Chia Seeds For Managing Diabetes? Research Says Yes
Nutritional seeds once prized by Aztec warriors because of their healing properties are now known to help manage diabetes.
Most of us became familiar with these seeds being spread on figurines called Chia Pets. Though they are native to Mexico and Guatemala, chia seeds are finally being recognized in the U.S. and elsewhere for the dietary powerhouses they are.
Chia and Diabetes
With diabetes you are frequently are asked to eliminate certain foods from your diet, but your doctor or nutritionist may approve of chai seeds. When eaten, the seeds form a gel in our digestive system. Scientists think the gel slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, allowing our body to process sugar more slowly, with less fluctuation in glucose levels.
Several research studies have validated the value of chia seeds for managing diabetes. One study revealed that the seeds reduced the risk of cardiovascular problems in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Other scientists discovered chia seeds normalized insulin resistance in diabetic rats and simultaneously reduced the cholesterol and fat in their bloodstream.
Other Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are packed with protein. About 20 percent of a seed's makeup is protein, which is why the seeds were once considered "Indian Running Food." They are also dripping with essential fatty acids, including a good balance of the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids so vital to our physical and mental health. Chia seeds are the best-known plant source of ALA or alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 proven to lower stress hormone levels, reduce our risk of heart disease, and help prevent cancer.
Consuming an ounce of chia seeds provides significant percentages of our daily requirements for calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and dietary fiber. It boosts our intake of zinc, potassium and copper as well.
Ways to Use Chia Seeds
Many people sprinkle chia seeds on their cereal or add the seeds to smoothies – and you can eat them right out of the package. However, there are plenty of other uses for these seeds in the kitchen, such as:
- Use chia seeds to thicken gravies and soups. In lieu of cornstarch or other thickening agents, simply add two tablespoons of chia seeds (regular or powdered) at a time until you reach the desired thickness.
- Use chia seeds to thicken meatballs. Instead of thickening meatballs with breadcrumbs, add two tablespoons of chia seeds for every pound of meat. You can also use the seeds to thicken meat loaf.
- Use chia seeds to bread chicken or fish. Chia seeds make a nutritious, crunchy breading for poultry or fish. You can also mix the seeds with almond flour and garlic powder for breading variety and flavor.
- Use chia seeds as an egg substitute in baked goods. For each egg that the recipe calls for, finely grind one tablespoon of dry chia seeds in a processor, blender or coffee grinder, and add it to the mixture with three tablespoons of water.
Chia Seed Pudding
Another tasty recipe idea is a chia seed pudding. Put the following ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Place the pudding in the fridge for 10 minutes to thicken, and enjoy.
- 2 cups coconut milk (or other kind of milk)
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 2 to 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder (optional, but who would want to leave it out?)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 Tbsp. (or more) sweetener (e.g. honey or a few drops of liquid stevia)
Chia pudding variations: Leave out the vanilla and cocoa, and put in a cup of strawberries. Or, add nutmeg and cinnamon for flavoring.