Chia seeds are an integral ingredient in the Mexican drink chia fresca, in which the seeds are mixed into lime or lemon juice with a sweetener – sugar, honey, agave or maple syrup.
Chia seeds, native to Mexico and South America, are a member of the mint family and was used by Mayan and Aztec cultures for supernatural powers.
Chia seeds, which are used in their whole form, do not need to be ground to be absorbed by the body and help with hydration due to their ability to absorb up to 9-10 times their weight in water.
The humble black seed – which is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and is a good source of fibre, protein, calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc among many other nutrients – has a rich history too.
Aztecs used the seed to stimulate the flow of saliva and to relieve joint pain. Aztec warriors survived on rations of chia seed – it was light, easy to carry in small pouches, and provided them energy and endurance. These seeds were also valuable enough to be used as trade currency and potent enough to prevent infections.
The health benefits of chia seeds are numerous. The omega-3s in chia seeds can help reduce inflammation, enhance cognitive performance and reduce high cholesterol. Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 18% of the DRI for calcium, 35% for phosphorus, 24% for magnesium and about 50% for manganese. These nutrients can help prevent hypertension and maintain a healthy weight, and are important for energy metabolism.
When combined with liquid, chia seeds swell and form a gel. This mixture is often used as a substitute for eggs in baked goods. Chia’s ability to gel also makes the seeds a fine substitute for pectin in jam.
Chia Fresca Recipe:
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 2 cups water
- 1 lemon or lime, juiced
- 1 tbsp sweetener of your choice (honey, maple, agave syrup or sugar can be used)
- Place all ingredients in a drinks container or mason jar and mix. Leave to stand for 15 minutes or place in the fridge. The drink looks quite pretty as the seeds expand in water.
- Stir well and serve
Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable lifestyle and living, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com