Oh! The tiny but potent chia seed! Multiple treasures are packed inside this little seed in the form of zinc, potassium, phosphorus, copper, calcium, protein, fiber, omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats.
All vitamins and minerals are important to the overall health of your brain and your body; however, calcium and omega-3 fats, are too important not to mention. As I mentioned in my article, The Importance of Calcium in Brain Health, calcium is essential to the life of a brain neuron and eases anxiety, depression and irritability. We have all been fed a line through advertising throughout our lives that American life cannot flourish without dairy. It is simply not true. If you stop and think about it; there is a very large Eastern culture that has managed to thrive for thousands of years without the intake of dairy. If billions of people manage to get by without it; I think we can too! All we have to do is seek out plant-based options and the chia seed is a viable choice.
Should we consume vast quantities? No. Moderation is always the key. My family typically uses chia seeds in the following ways:
- Egg substitute in baking
- Added to yogurt or kefir
- Added to oatmeal
Chia seeds are inexpensive and simple to use. A little goes a long way! Another reason why chia seeds nourish your mental health: Omega-3 fats! I can’t stop writing about these fatty acids because they are vital to excellent mental health. Americans don’t get enough of them. So, when you search out healthy fats; think omega-3’s, as we all get more than enough of the omega-6 fatty acids in our diet. Omega-3’s calm the brain, ease the nervous system and reduce inflammation. Our bodies cannot produce omega-3’s on their own. We have to consume the fatty acids.
According, to The University of Maryland Medical Center, “Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.”
Chia seeds are similar to other plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts, ground flax seed) in the sense that they are in the form of ALA, which does not easily convert into the needed DHA/EPA. But don’t let that stop you! Get your chia on!
*Side effects: Chia seeds become gel-like once they hit water. Great for baking without eggs; not so great if you are eating them and have difficulty swallowing. Drink lots of water…but you should be doing that anyway!