Chia seeds have become very popular as a superfood today but they have been around for several thousand years. They were first eaten by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, they were also used for medicinal purposes. They are easily accessible worldwide today so we can now all benefit from the addition of these little seeds into our diets.
Chia seeds are small, oval-shaped with a shiny smooth texture. The colour can range from white to black. Because of the bland flavour, chia can be added to pretty much everything. They can be eaten raw or soaked but soaking them before eating is optimal. Chia seeds deliver a massive amount of nutrients with very few calories, they contain no sugars or starch.
They are easy to add into your daily diet. I make chia puddings for breakfast or dessert (my no-fuss breakfasts), they make an excellent egg replacement (1 Tbsp chia soaked in 3 Tbsp water), I also make chia fruit jams/spreads and I like adding them to my smoothies (try my Spearmint Smoothie). They can be used to thicken stews or gravies (I ground down chia seeds in my blender to use as a thickener but not necessary). I add them to many of my bread recipes, as they bind the ingredients together well, you can also add chia to your hamburger patties to help them hold together better. There are endless ways to include chia into your meal planning.
Chia seeds contain one of the highest known sources of Essential Fatty Acids. Our diets today don't seem to have the right ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fats. Omega 3 is harder to come by, they are in chia seeds, flaxseed and fish like salmon and sardines. Omega 6 fats are found in foods that come from plant sources, so these fats are readily available, for example, nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, olives, avocado, vegetable and nut oils that are liquid at room temperature. Both are essential oils needed for good health but we need to increase our omega 3, as it is easy to consume plenty of omega 6.
The enzymes in chia aid in the digestion of food. It is excellent for healing gut and digestive issues. The fibre in chia can also help with constipation (drink plenty of fluids when eating chia).
Some recent studies have shown that insoluble fibre can help reduce the risk of colon cancer and chia is 80% insoluble.
Antioxidants help fight free radical damage in our bodies.
Plant-based omega 3 is vital in lowering the risk of cardiovascular heart disease.
Chia is one of the highest plant sources of protein. You need protein for your muscles, it's perfect for athletes as it contains 19 amino acids.
Chia seeds contain calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and protein, which are all needed to help keep our bones healthy, strong and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It also contains strontium, which has benefits in strengthening cartilage.
Chia seeds can help in supporting your body to detoxify, support the liver and digestive system, reduce inflammation and repair cells.
Chia can help with regulating and stopping the spikes in blood sugar levels. When liquid is added to the seeds it forms a gel substance, it keeps you fuller for longer with the added bonus of being low-carb.
A natural beauty food. The nutritional combination of omega 3 fats, protein, and minerals in chia keep your skin, hair teeth and nails healthy.
Perfect for those with Coeliacs disease, a wheat intolerance or those wanting to reduce inflammation due to gluten and grains in their diet. Being very low in carbs chia can be helpful if you are trying to lose or maintain your weight. Almost all the carbs in chia are fibre.
Chia is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin E and folic acid. It's an excellent source of calcium and manganese, it also contains magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, zinc and potassium. Chia contains 19 amino acids (protein).
Chia seeds might not be much to look at but they are a powerhouse packed with incredible amounts of nutrition, try adding them into your diet daily.
By Susan Joy