Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Chia seeds - Food of the (Running) Gods

Chritopher Mcdougall's excellent book 'Born to Run' talks about a miracle food, that has left me confused, excited, sceptical and hungry, all at once. This super food is the Chia seed, an ancient Aztec food that packs such a high nutritional punch that it provides enough energy for endurance runners to keep going on little else.

I wanted to put forward some of the key benefits for you to have a read over, there are tonnes of benefits out there, this really does seem like a miracle food.

The nutritional make up of the seed speaks for itself really. Tonnes of protein, fibre, calcium, omega-3 make it a runners best friend for obvious reasons, but I will explore this in a bit more detail.

The Protein in the Chia seed is fantastic for athletes, because every time you go out for a run, you are putting tiny wears and tears in your muscles. In order for this tissue to reform and grow, you need a source of protein. High Protein content in your diet will also mean you feel fuller for longer, great if you are trying to maintain a healthy diet.

Chia seeds are high in dietary fibre, which again make you feel fuller for longer. Fibre is also great for lowering cholesterol. Fibre is a vital element of a healthy diet, so the fact that Chia seeds are stocked full of the stuff is great.

Chia seeds have a lot of calcium, great for runners as it helps build up strong bones. This is essential for people who do a lot of running, as you put a lot of strain on your legs. We dont want broken/sore bones, so calcium is essential! The other cool thing about Chia is that it contains the mineral boron. Boron acts as a catalyst which speeds up and increases the way calcium is absorbed in to the body. Antoher great plu point of Chia!

The seeds are also full of Omega 3 - these fatty acids are great for runners because they give you a healthy Heart. They reduce inflammation and swelling (meaning your muscles will not be as sore after long runs). Omega 3 has also been linked to a healthier brain, and has been said to increase focus, meaning you can stay motivated and focused on your running goals!

oooo Chia - is there anything you can't do? It would appear not!

Once digested, Chia acts as a barrier between carbs and the enzymes that break them down. This is really cool because it effectively slows the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar, meaning you will feel fuller for longer, and your carbs will be released as energy slower. Great for runners. Also great for Diabetics!

These tlitte miracle workers also absorb up to 12 times there weight in water. This means that they make for a perfect source of slow release energy, keep you hydrated and energised throughout your long run. If you mix Chia seeds in water, give it a stir and leave for 10 minutes, it will form a jelly like substance. If you add some lime juice to this and knock it back, you will be drinking something very similar to the Iskiate drink that the Tharahumara tribe drink, the Tharahumara are the subject of the book 'Born to Run'. These are the guys who are dubbed as being some of the best distance runners in the world, and this is what fuels them.

I don't know about you, but I am ready to try some Chia seeds and see if I turn in to a super athlete too - can't do any harm...can it?

If you are already eating these seeds in your diet, let me know. Has it affected your performance at all? Is this all just a big joke? Why do we all not eat these every day at every meal?
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