Coconut and chia seeds have been main staples of peoples in the world because of the many nutrients they provide. Coconut has been so important to the Asian Pacific community it has been called the “tree of life.” And equally revered for their life giving properties, the chia seeds were named “chia” meaning “strength” by the Mayans. This pudding is primarily made up of the two superfoods, coconut and chia seeds, both of which provide fats that are especially beneficial for brain health.
When we eat fats, they are broken down into glucose, a type of sugar, providing energy for our bodies. Our brains use 20% of our daily energy input. It’s main fuel is glucose. Brain cells can’t store energy and will only live a few moments without it which is why even it you intervene in a brain stoke early, the damage to the cells can leave a person very debilitated. Coconut oil and human breast milk are the two significant sources of easily broken down medium-chained triglycerides (MCTs) that the liver can break down into ketones that readily cross the blood-brain barrier providing instant energy to the brain if glucose is not readily available at any given time of the day. Alzheimers is sometimes called type 3 diabetes because the brain cells have become insulin-resistant and die because they don’t get the glucose they need. Coconut oil is being researched to see if this back-up energy would prevent or slow down both Alzheimer’s and dementia.
This “tree of life” is good for cardiovascular health, digestion, and inflammation, and it is an excellent source of minerals that are important for regulating the body, and, because of its other healing properties, coconut is used in skin products.
The chia plant grows natively in South America. The seeds have a history of being a dietary staple because just 2 tablespoons of the seeds provide 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (5 of which are Omega-3s), a significant amount of calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus, as well as some of the zinc, vitamin B1, B2, and B3, and potassium that our bodies need.
Chia seeds release glucose slowly so there is a steady supply of sugar in the blood rather than spikes and deficiencies. Three other benefits chia seeds offer the brain is their antioxidants which protect the brain from free radicals, a complete protein with nine essential amino acids to keep your mood stable and your brain working well. We’ve been all made aware that there is a ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol that removes the bad (LDL). But you don’t hear too much about the role cholesterol plays in the body’s cells. Among a number of structural things cholesterol does, it secures the protein in our cells needed for cells to communicate with each other and it adds firmness and integrity to the plasma membrane of the cells of our bodies preventing it from becoming overly fluid. Chia seeds have Omega-3 which the body makes into the DHA fatty acids that is also part of the structure of cell membranes enabling it to function properly.
Because they are involved in the integrity of the cells of our body, fats are critical components to anti-disease and anti-aging.
Vanilla Chia Pudding
- 1 can coconut milk (melted and blended)
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey, agave syrup or stevia to taste)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 7 tablespoons black chia seeds
If you purchased coconut milk without gar gum, the coconut meat will be separate from the water and, unlike the cream floating to the top of un-homogenized milk, this can’t be fixed by shaking it. Pour the content of the can into a small sauce pan and warm over very low heat until the lumps have melted, then blend in a NutriBullet or blender until creamy. Pour into a bowl and add the water, sweetening, vanilla and chia seeds. Whisk, let rest for 10 minutes and whisk again or use a fork to break up any large lumps. Leave in a bowl or spoon into serving dishes and chill for at least 2 hours or until pudding consistency.
If you have chilled the pudding in serving dishes, decorate them with fruit. If you chill it in a bowl, spoon into serving dishes or clear cups layering the pudding with fruit like peaches, mangoes, berries, kiwi, pomegranate seeds or sliced bananas and/or decorate with a mint leaf.
Photos courtesy of Flickr