Superfoods never looked so good…
By Pat Lupica on September 15, 2021
With a string of holidays around the corner, along with access to abundant goodies that tend to include unhealthy fats and sugar, maintaining a healthy diet may be in the back of your mind - especially as it pertains to the unwelcomed extra pounds that hang around well after the holidays. With this in mind, the hunt is on for nutrient-dense foods that curb cravings, feed the microbiome, and ultimately energize the body while making it easier to enjoy some of those holiday treats without (too many) adverse effects. Wouldn't it be great to get to January 2022 without health or weight loss concerns?
Chia Seeds are one of the most nutrient-dense foods around. While the Chia Seed is trending in the natural foods space, this tiny nutty flavored seed is not new; it has been traced back to the Aztec and Mayan civilizations and was considered a super food in ancient times. It is traditionally soaked or cooked in liquid (rather than eating dry) because it expands as soon as it comes in contact with moisture, and a little goes a long way.
This tiny wholegrain gluten free seed caught my attention because of its amazing nutritional profile...One ounce of Chia Seeds has 10 grams of Fiber, 5 grams of Protein, and has more Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon.2
While fiber is not a nutrient, it is vital for digestive health; consequently, fiber is linked to weight loss and maintenance. Chia seeds primarily contain soluble fiber, which can slow digestion and prevent sugar spikes - think See's candy, pastries, and other sweets around the holidays. "Fiber intake is inversely associated with body weight and body fat…. the addition of dietary fiber generally decreases food intake and, hence, body weight". 4,5 Once you include fiber as a mainstay in your daily diet, you will find that those rich holiday foods will be less tempting. Your body will have a better chance of processing the rich foods, and elevated blood sugar levels can be better managed.
Protein plays a role in a large range of functions in the body including making red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body, building muscle, and immune system support.3 This tiny chia seed can be incorporated in many foods to give you a boost of protein. This is precisely why we included this nutritional powerhouse in our Plant Pantry Panang Vegetable soup.
Omega-3s, polyunsaturated fat, influences many functions in the body to include energy creation, improves cholesterol levels, and supports healthy heart function.1 Chia seeds are also a rich source of antioxidants and they help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins - A, D, E and K.6 You need healthy fats every day but it is especially important during the holiday season when your food choices may not be the best.
If you have not guessed already, Chia Seeds are an important ingredient in OUR pantry. Our Panang Vegetable soup is made with Chia seeds along with other great ingredients like cauliflower, root vegetables, coconut milk, savory herbs, and Ayurvedic spices to include turmeric, ginger, and nigella (black cumin). This flavorful Thai inspired soup could easily be incorporated at the start of dinner - providing all the benefits already discussed or enjoyed at lunch - before hitting the potluck tables.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Armed with her aunt’s amazing recipes, Pat founded Plant Pantry to put the wellness back in soups. She was raised on a plant-based diet but it wasn’t until she was well into adulthood that she realized the significant role nutrition plays in quality of life. Plant Pantry soups are incredibly creamy plant-based soups that are just as delicious as they are nutritious. In her spare time, Pat studies Nutrition Science - most recently at Stanford University. When she is not studying nutrition, you can find her cooking with her granddaughters, hiking, or enjoying the beach.
- AMA, Polyunsaturated Fat, (nd). https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/polyunsaturated-fats, accessed 7/28/21.
- Gunnars, K.(2018). 11 Proven Health Benefits of Chia Seeds, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds#section1
- MedlinePlus, nd. What are proteins and what do they do? What are proteins and what do they do?: MedlinePlus Genetics
- Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients 2013, 5, 1417-1435; doi:10.3390/nu5041417, Nutrients | An Open Access Journal from MDPI.
- Slavin, J. (2005). Dietary fiber and body weight. Science Direct, Nutrition,
Volume 21, Issue 3, Pages 411-418,https://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/S0899-9007(04)00304-1/abstract?code=nut-site.
- Link, R. 2019. Chia Seeds Benefits: The Omega-3, Protein-Packed Superfood. https://draxe.com/chia-seeds-benefits-side-effects/