It seems like every year there is a new “hot” super food. Last year it was the Acai berry and maybe this year it’ll be Chia seeds. Yup, you remember the commercial, Ch Ch Ch Chia; the same seeds you smeared on your Chia pet may be the newest health craze. No, they aren’t purposed to grow new hair, but for a tiny seed Chia has a pretty impressive resume.
One ounce of Chia is 137 calories, and has12 grams of total carbohydrate, 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat. The best part is the 4915 mg of Omega-3 (Alpha-linolenic acid) and 1620 mg of Omega-6 (Linoleic acid.). Chia is purposed to promote a healthy heart and cardiovascular health, good mental health, healthy hair, skin, joint and immune system and be high in antioxidants. It is also Gluten-free, kosher and relatively inexpensive. It sounds pretty amazing to me.
My husband Chris first introduced me to the Chia seeds after he read Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but Chris says it’s a great book. McDougall focuses on the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico and searches for the answer to what makes them such phenomenal ultra-distance runners. The book delves into things like their running stride, choice of shoes and diet. Their diet consists of basically no animal protein, and is high in complex carbohydrates. A staple of their diet is corn, and it’s probably no surprise to find out their diet includes Chia. Chia absorbs nine times its weight in water, so when it’s mixed in liquid it turns into a gel like substance. The Tarahumara created a mixture with it called Chia Fresca, which they take on their runs. Similar I guess to our gels or sports drinks. We ordered our first bag of Chia seeds online a few weeks ago and have been really impressed. Chris mixes his in with his grits in the morning; I put it in my yogurt, salad, smoothies and have even tried it in my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The seeds have a mild taste and a slight crunch; you don’t really notice them. You don’t have to grind them up like flax seeds and they don’t give you gross fish burps, like fish oil.
Throughout my cycling career I ate pretty well balanced meals, but I didn’t dwell on nutrition too much. In general, I stuck to the theory everything in moderation. I still follow that motto, but I am starting to give more thought to all the processed foods, pesticides and other chemicals in the American diet. I am meeting more and more people who are eating organic and raw, and it makes me wonder if eating a much purer diet would have helped in my cycling career with things like recovery. Recently Chris and I have started making small changes in our diet, one thing at a time. Our hope is, overtime, to be eating healthier
There are some foods which are really beneficial and for what it’s worth, my new favorite super hero food is Chia. The typical American diet is low in Omega-3 and Omega- 6 fatty acids. Adding Chia to your child’s diet is a great way to increase his intake of these important lipids. Try this at home, sit down with your family and pick one thing you can add, substitute, or take away from your diet to make it healthier. Each month for the rest of the year add, substitute or take away one more thing.
Erin Mirabella is a two-time Olympic cyclist and children’s book author. For more information please visit www.erinmirabella.com