Maybe you never gave much consideration to these little black seeds, but now’s your chance to start. Chia seeds are packed full of nutritional benefits for your overall health and, more specifically, for your eyes. All seeds are loaded with nutrients that benefit your health, but chia seeds add some extra bang for your buck. They’re easy to find, easy to prepare, and they take on the flavor of whatever you add them to. Here are some eye-healthy reasons why you need to start eating chia seeds. Plus, we’ve included a deliciously healthy recipe to get you started!
Benefits of Chia Seeds
Seeds, in general, are often overlooked in diets even though they pack a punch full of nutrients. Chia seeds, which are considered a superfood, specifically have more than you’d expect for being so small. In only two tablespoons (one ounce), there are 11 grams of fiber, four grams of protein, five grams of omega-3 fats, and a ton of vitamin B. Wow! Incorporating one serving of chia seeds into a meal can dramatically increase your daily intake of these nutrients.
Chia seeds are also packed with antioxidants which are critical to your vision and eye health. Antioxidants are responsible for preventing free radicals from attacking your cells and causing premature aging. Free radicals can cause macular degeneration, leading to vision impairment and vision loss. It’s important to consume antioxidants every day to prevent free radicals from damaging your eyes and the rest of your body.
Antioxidants are also beneficial for lowering high blood pressure and maintaining cardiovascular health. Since your eyes contain lots of tiny blood vessels, when your cardiovascular health is in good shape, your eyes will be too.
Another important property of chia seeds is their high levels of zinc. Zinc is a mineral that fights inflammation in the body and protects your cells from damage. As you age, your skin is vulnerable to damage from lots of different sources – the sun, air pollution, scarring, skin inflammations, etc. Zinc assists in the structure of your cell membranes to ensure they are strong enough to withstand rough conditions. The conditions it protects your cells from can affect your eyes as well, so it’s important to consume enough zinc in your daily diet.
If you’re interested in cleanses and detoxes, chia seeds are an excellent natural option. When they enter your stomach, these little superfoods absorb the stomach acid and turn into a gel-like texture. This gel cleanses your digestive tract as it passes through, helping to remove toxins that don’t belong in your body.
How to Eat Them
You can eat chia seeds raw and dry but be aware that if you put them in liquid they will puff up into soft, gel-like balls. You can add them to your smoothies, juices, yogurt, or oatmeal. Or, you can even sprinkle them over a salad as a topping or bake them into bread and muffins.
A common way to prepare chia seeds is by soaking them overnight before you use them. This causes them to puff up and form a gel consistency. It’s beneficial to the seeds because it maximizes the nutrients you can absorb from them. The gel texture is easier for your stomach to break down and absorb nutrients from.
Soaking Directions: In a small bowl or other container, add a couple tablespoons of chia seeds and equal parts water. Stir it around and place in the fridge overnight. If you’re in a rush, you can let it sit for 2-3 hours in the fridge and then use. For different recipes and uses, you can soak them in liquids besides water like milk, almond milk, warm oatmeal, etc. Check out the recipe below for a yummy way to eat chia seeds!
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What to Look For
Chia seeds are available in the natural food section of most grocery stores; if they’re not at yours, try a specialty natural food store. Some will claim to be organic, but unless they have the certified-organic logo, don’t trust it. Many marketing tactics will use the word “organic” on the package just to catch the eye of healthy eaters. Different states and countries have their own organic certification boards, so make sure you know the logo to look for and that it’s on the package.
You should also keep an eye out for labels such as “chemical free” and “non-GMO” because these will ensure you don’t eat chia seeds that bring unwanted toxins into your body.
Chia seeds typically come from the tequila plant in South America, however many farms in North America grow them as well. Good quality chia seeds will be a mix of black and white in color; they should not be brown or grey, that’s an indication of unripe seeds. Buying local is an excellent way to support your local economy and help the environment.
Vision Boosting Recipe of the Month: Vanilla-Cinnamon Chia Seed Pudding
Do you have a sweet tooth? Are you trying to cut down on desserts and sugary cereals? This recipe is perfect for you! Enjoy the sweetness of natural sugars as well as the health benefits of chia seeds mentioned above. It’s the best of both worlds. You can eat this pudding as a pre-made breakfast or as a healthy option for dessert.
This recipe makes four servings and only takes about five minutes to prepare.
- 2 cups of vanilla almond milk (or unsweetened for a healthier option)
- ½ cup of chia seeds
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly
- Make sure to cover all chia seeds with the mixture – no dry seeds!
- Cover with a lid or plastic wrap
- Refrigerate for a minimum of two hours, preferably overnight
- When you remove from fridge, stir pudding and place in a bowl
- Top with more cinnamon
- You can also garnish with fruits, nuts, or other seeds
Hope you enjoy! Let us know in the comments below if you have any healthy chia seed recipes.