Q: What are chia seeds, and how should they be used as part of a healthy diet?
A: Most people know chia seeds as being responsible for producing a furry green friend called the Chia Pet. However, more recently this seed has gained popularity because of the health benefits it provides. Serving as an excellent source of omega-3s, fiber, protein, minerals and antioxidants, chia seeds can easily be incorporated into your diet in drinks, snack items, raw or combined with water to substitute for an egg. Because widespread consumption of chia seeds is relatively new, conclusive research on the exact health benefits is still developing. Emerging research with small sample sizes suggest possible cardiovascular benefits like lowered cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, as well as the promotion of weight loss.
Q: Lately, my goal has been to eat healthier snacks during the day, since I’m a big fan of chips and candy bars. What do you guys recommend as alternatives?
A: We get asked this quite a bit, so we definitely have some favorites. If you want something similar to your candy bar, you could certainly go with a sports nutrition bar. The main difference is that the sports bars are a bit more balanced with additional protein and less fat. They also typically have more vitamins and minerals as well. As a result, they make for a better meal replacement than a traditional candy bar. If you want some “real foods,” which we recommend, check out the short list below:
• Celery and carrots with low-fat dip.
• Plain yogurt with granola and blueberries.
• Whole grain crackers with hummus
• Cottage cheese with apple slices.
• Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts
• String cheese and a banana.
• Half of a whole grain bagel with peanut butter.
• Low-sodium beef jerky.
• Rice cakes with lean ham or turkey.
• Edamame (soybeans in the pod).
Joe Nguyen is the club owner at Anytime Fitness in Norwalk. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at JoeN@anytimefitness.com.