Chia is back, and in a whole new way

Chia is back, and in a whole new way

I remember around 10 to 15 years ago, we started talking about fiber, protein and omega-3’s as the three things we most need to add to our diets, according to Nutrition Myth Buster Jonny Bowden, CNS, Ph.D. But back then, there was never a single food containing appreciable amounts of all three to use as an example. Now, there are chia products containing all three nutrients: protein, fat and fiber. That’s the nutritional trifecta!

Who knew chia could be so good? 

There was a time when most consumers only knew of chia as sprouts grown on terracotta figurines. It turns out that chia is a great source of protein and dietary fiber, as well as ALA omega 3s. I wish I could have included chia in the latest edition of my book, “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth” but I researched that book in 2016 and 2017 before Seeds of Wellness (SOW) introduced this amazing line of chia foods.

I was recently featured as one of the leading health experts in the new documentary “Fat Fiction,” which examines misconceptions about dietary fats, especially healthy fats, I was particularly excited by chia’s ALA content.  ALA is the only omega-3 that is considered biologically an ‘essential’ fatty acid because the body can’t make it on its own. You must get it from your diet. Having an easy way to supplement your diet with omega-3s becomes especially important if you’re not a fish eater.

Everyone should be consuming these plant-based powerhouses 

Chia is trending. I immediately honed in on the SOW brands because they are natural, non-GMO and sustainably produced. SOW also uses special processing to ensure that each of its products retains all of the chia’s nutritional goodness. I am a huge proponent of healthy, nutrient-rich dietary fats, so first on my list of chia products to try was the oil.  The flavors of many better-for-you oils are too strong for smoothies. And you can’t put fish oil on a salad! These are places where chia oil shines because it has a mild, slightly nutty flavor. One teaspoon of SOW Chia Oil contains 3 grams of omega-3 ALA. Plus there’s evidence that chia oil supports the immune system, is anti-inflammatory, promotes cardiovascular health, is neuroprotective, and promotes healthy skin, hair and nails.

I also give a a thumbs up other sources of omega-3 fatty acids including tuna, salmon, mackerel and salmon.

And while many people generally avoid carbs, he admits: that many of us still crave them! Even people following the keto diet want to take a break once in a while and enjoy some pasta. Chia pasta is a gluten-free pasta that actually tastes good. Each one-cup serving gives you 205 mg of ALA, 4 g of fiber, and 5 grams of plant-based protein.

Other better-for-you carbohydrates include bananas, because of its medium glycemic load, the occasional banana, particularly one that’s not overripe, is really not a problem for most people.

Chia is also found in the dairy case. Some people either can’t drink milk or have decided not to consume dairy products. They should be careful because many milk alternatives have tons of sugar and no flavor. My go-to milk alternative now is SOW Chia Beverage. It has just a few ingredients so it’s clean label. In addition to omega-3s, fiber and protein, it is an excellent source of calcium. All for just 21 calories per cup!

Other plant-based calcium sources include broccoli, almonds and chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Everyone should have variety in their diets. Chia is another way to get a lot of nutrition in foods that are already familiar to you and your family.

Biography: Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, also known as “The Nutrition Myth Buster” ™ is a nationally known board-certified nutritionist and expert on diet and weight loss. He has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS as an expert on nutrition has contributed to articles in The New York Times, Forbes, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair Online, Men’s Health, Prevention, and dozens of other print and online publications.

Follow him @jonnybowden

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