According to researches, ancient Mexicans domesticated chia seeds in 2600 B.C. Ancient Mexican civilizations used chia seeds in daily nutrition due to their tremendous nutritional and health benefits. Archeologists found that the Aztec warriors called these seeds “running seeds”, and that they survived only because chia seeds and water. Mayas, on the other hand, cherished chia seeds, along with corn, beans, and amaranth, as the most important crop. After Spanish conquest, chia seeds were banned and the production stopped because they played a significant role in many religious ceremonies. Wayne Coates introduced chia seeds in North America in 1991 when he started researching their benefits that could place them as an alternative crop in northern Argentina. These white, dark brown and black seeds, although tasteless, have numerous health benefits. Today, chia seeds attract significant attention of both the scientist and the consumers.
Why are they so important for us?
Seeds are rich source of fiber that is important for lowering cholesterol level. Another important benefit of fiber is inflammation reduction and regulation of bowel function. Given that one ounce serving of chia seeds has 11 grams of dietary fiber, which is about a third of the recommended daily intake for adults, Chia seeds are lucrative healthy food.
Omega–3 fatty acids
Chia seeds are composed of 60 percent of omega-3 fatty acids – they are necessary for enhancing cognitive function and performance. In fact, chia seeds are one of the richest plant-based sources of fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid. One ounce serving has nearly five grams of fatty acids.
Loaded with antioxidants, chia seeds protect the body from harmful free radicals and boost the immune system. Antioxidants are also very important for combating cancer and premature aging.
Chia seeds contain 18 percent of calcium, 34 percent of magnesium, 35 percent of phosphorus, and 50 percent of manganese. These minerals are important for metabolism, DNA synthesis, and healthy weight. One needs these minerals to prevent hypertension.
Chia seeds have no gluten or grains; therefore, they are included in gluten-free diets.
Fiber, protein, and gelling action of the seeds contribute to satiating effects. When eating chia seeds one feels full and uninterested for food craving in between meals. Tryptophan in chia seeds, an amino acid, is responsible for appetite regulation and regular and healthy sleep.
Due to all these nutrients and compounds, chia seeds
Maintain healthy and strong bones
Promote strong teeth
Lower LDL cholesterol
Increase HDL cholesterol
Contribute to healthy weight
Peruvian Raw Maca
Pumpush people of Junip in Peru domesticated this radish-like root vegetable and subsisted on it as their main crop. Native Indians used it as a medicine as well – this usage goes back to around 3800 B.C. Raw Maca was very popular crop due to the essential vitamins and minerals. The Spanish explorer Captain De Soto received maca root as a gift in return for his help with animals in 1549 A.D. Although cherished by native Indians it was not until 1843 that the scientists studied this plant. In the same century, the root was given a botanical name Lepidium meyenii, while the first person who described this plant was German Botanist Gerhard Walpers.
Its ability to promote optimal functioning of the hypothalamus is confirmed by many studies. This root vegetable contains 60 phytochemicals and unique alkaloids that improve overall functioning of the endocrine system. Maca is known as “Peruvian ginseng” because people used it to increase energy and stamina, as well as sexual function. As a tonic, maca is considered an aphrodisiac and a natural remedy that improves fertility. Maca contains significant amount of amino acids, carbohydrates, and minerals such as calcium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. As for the vitamins, maca has vitamin C, E, B1, B2, and B12. Maca root is called an adaptogen, a term used to describe the ability to increase the body’s defense against both physical and mental weakening and potent illnesses.
Maca’s health benefits are numerous for both men and women.
For men, maca is a powerful remedy that can
Increases energy (Chronic Fatigue)
Treat sexual dysfunction (Loss of Libido)
Increase stamina & athletic performance
Nourish glandular system
Improve physical and emotional well being
Promotes mental clarity
For women, maca can
Treat PMS (Mood Swings)
Treat menopause symptom relief (Hot Flashes)
Be a sexual stimulant
Nourish glandular system
Increase stamina & athletic performance
Increase energy (Chronic Fatigue)
Maca is used in powder form – it can be added to juices, shakes, and smoothies. It is also available as a nutritional supplement, in liquid or pill form.
As for the side effects, little is known about the safety and side effects of both short –term and long-term usage.
Traditional Asian medicine used goji berries for over 5000 years. Chinese medical practitioners used goji berries because they are related to increasing vital life energies, the “chi”. According to Chinese medicine, these berries have the ability to strengthen the body and the mind, which can lead to longevity.
Known as wolfberries, these reddish-orange berries, with sweet and slightly sour flavor, have numerous health benefits, and some are almost legendary. In traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries are used as a tonic that strengthens the immune system and blood. Due to the high amount of antioxidants, berries are known for their anti-aging properties as well. People use goji berries to treat various conditions – diabetes, fever, high blood pressure, eye problems etc.
According to the studies and researches, goji berries are good for
Insomnia and healthy sleep
Berries are eaten raw or dried. One can enjoy them in smoothies, tonics, and raw elixirs. Goji berry powder is also available and can be used in juices, teas, or water. One can add them to salads, desserts, cupcakes, ice creams, puddings, etc.
As for their side effects, goji berries may cause discomfort when used with other medications (diabetes and blood pressure drugs). Apart from that, goji berries are safe.
Allen, D. (2010). Chia Seeds. Woodland Publishing.
Hoffman, C. (2007). Goji Berry: Fruits of Paradise. Woodland Publishing.
Ley, B.M (2003). Maca: Peruvian Ginseng: The Hormonal Regulator. Bl Pubns.
Wolfe, D. (2009). Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future. North Atlantic Books.