Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Forgotten Health Discovery from the Aztecs

There's a forgotten discovery from the Aztecs that's making a resurgence, and with good reason. It's filled with vital omega-3s, minerals, and fiber. In fact, I think it's the answer to some of the biggest dietary challenges we face today—since it gives you so much of what the modern American diet is missing.

The food I'm talking about is chia seeds. It amazes me that such tiny seeds, scarcely bigger than a pepper grind, can have such a huge impact on your health.

But back in the 1980's, eating chia never crossed my mind

You might remember, as I do, back in the 1980's watching those late-night commercials and hearing "Ch-ch-ch-chia!" advertising those little terra-cotta Chia pets. The last thing that crossed my mind was eating those chia seeds. Little did I know just how nutritionally rich they are.

For decades, I traveled extensively throughout Mexico and Central and South America in my investigations. One of my favorite areas is in the southern part of Mexico next to Guatemala, which also happens to be where chia, Salvia hispanica, was first cultivated. These beautiful purple-flowered plants produce one of the richest foods known to nature—chia seeds.

But while I've long-known chia seeds were the Aztec and Mayan cultures' secret to good health—we can actually thank Dr. Wayne Coates, a retired research professor at the University of Arizona for "rediscovering" them. He spent 17 years researching the benefits of chia seeds, and bringing their health benefits to the forefront—and I'm more convinced than ever that this is the type of "miracle food" we should all be eating.

They're filled with more vital omega-3s than any other plant food

Omega-3s are vital fats that support your heart, blood pressure, brain function, immune system, joints, and more. But unfortunately, the average person today gets just one-sixth the omega-3s as people in the 1800s.

But eating the right fats is only one part of it—you also need to eat them in the right ratio. Most of us are eating far too many omega-6s, and not enough omega-3s. But until chia seeds became available, the oils from flaxseed, fish and marine algae were considered to be the only other viable sources of dietary omega-3s.

While I still use and recommend fish oil and flaxseed— chia seeds give you 3.4 grams of omega-3s per serving. In these tough economic times, it's nice to find a single food that gives you so many of these healthy oils. Plus, in my opinion chia seeds give you one of the best ratios of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids you can find in nature.

Just two tablespoons give you an amazing supply of vital nutrients—and energy!

Chia seeds supply many valuable nutrients, including vital fats, vitamins, and minerals. In just two tablespoons of chia you get 177 mg of calcium, which as you know is important for healthy bones. Plus, chia gives you vital minerals like phosphorous and magnesium. Chia seeds are also about a 16% complete protein, supplying you with all of the vital amino acids.

But the benefits don't end there. These tiny seeds are also an energy-boosting powerhouse. The outer layer of the chia seed is made of soluble fiber, which slows down the release of glucose into your bloodstream. Glucose is the primary energy source used by your brain, nervous system, and muscles.

The other reason chia seeds provide long-lasting energy is that they are 31% fat, which as I mentioned earlier is from healthy oils. These beneficial oils are digested much more slowly than carbohydrates or simple sugars.

But when it comes to buying chia seeds—you need to separate the facts from the hype

While there's no doubt that chia seeds give you a lot of bang for your buck nutritionally, there's also a lot of misinformation out there. But after much searching, I found an excellent source of black chia called Raw Goodness Chia which comes from Ruth's Foods in Canada.

Not only is Ruth's chia extremely high-quality and gives you all the health benefits I just mentioned, it's also an excellent value! I keep a supply on-hand to mix into my yogurts and smoothies.

The only downside is that right now, Ruth's Chia can be tricky to find. So, the team at Mountain Home contacted them directly to get a supply for you. Click here to place your secure order online.

Take care,

Dr. David Williams