Need Endurance Energy? Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!

Chia seeds up close and personal

Did you have a Chia pet growing up? I didn't, but I always remember wanting one. If you aren't familiar with Chia pets, they are terra cotta figurines that you moisten and spread with seeds from the Saliva Hispanica plant, aka, Chia.

Known as the running food, Chia's use as a high energy endurance food has been recorded as far back as the ancient Aztecs. It was said the Aztec warriors subsisted on the Chia seed during their conquests. The Indians of the southwest would eat as little as a teaspoonful when going on a 24 hr. forced march. It is said that Indians running from the Colorado River to
the California coast to trade turquoise for seashells would only bring the Chia seed for their nourishment.

If you try mixing a spoonful of Chia into a glass of water and leaving it for approximately 30 minutes or so, when you return, the glass will appear to contain not seeds or water, but an almost solid gelatin. This gel-forming reaction is due to the soluble fiber in the Chia. Research believes this same gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach when food containing these gummy fibers, known as mucilages, are eaten. The gel that is formed in the stomach creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.

In addition to the obvious benefits for diabetics, this slowing in the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar offers the ability for creating endurance. Carbohydrates are the fuel for energy in our bodies. Prolonging their conversion into sugar stabilizes metabolic changes, diminishing the surges of highs and lows creating a longer duration in their fueling effects.

Studies have suggested that incorporating common chia into chicken feed may improve the nutritional value of chicken products by increasing the omega-3 content and decreasing the cholesterol content of the meat and eggs.
Rodent studies have shown that Salvia hispanica may lower serum cholesterol, LDL (low density lipoproteins), and triglycerides while increasing HDL (high density lipoproteins). Furthermore, Salvia hispanica has been demonstrated to exhibit anti-tumor activity.

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