Chia seeds are another food which has made its appearance fairly recently in the western diet although it has long been a staple of South American peoples. Chia seeds can be traced back to Aztec and Mayan times and it is said that Chia seeds were part of the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors, and that minimal amounts could sustain a man for 24 hours!
Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a species of flowering plant from the mint family Lamiaceae, which is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. Chia is now grown commercially for its seed. Chia seeds are typically small,(about 1 mm diameter), oval shaped and mottled (brown, grey, black, and white) in colour.
Chia seeds are now being promoted as a powerful, functional, and nutritious superfood. They are particularly popular amongst raw foodists.
And with good reason!
Chia seeds are high in protein, full of vitamins and minerals, a good source of fibre, packed with antioxidants, and a particularly good (plant) source of omega-3 fatty acids.
So why should you make Chia seeds part of your diet?
Chia Seeds are packed with nutrition
As mentioned earlier these little seeds are high in protein, omega-3, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. They contain 20% Omega 3 (Alpha- Linolenic Acid), making it a super food for the brain and heart. Chia has eight times more Omega 3 than salmon!
The seeds are about 20% protein, which is a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids. Chia are particularly high in Calcium, Potassium, Iron and Vitamin C.
Chia seeds help to balance blood sugar.
They have an extremely low GI (glycemic index) and so slow down the absorption of complex carbohydrates and thus help stabilise blood sugar levels, making them an ideal food for diabetics. This slow release of energy also prevents the blood sugar highs and lows known to prompt food cravings.
Chia Seeds Are Easily Digestible
Chia seeds do not have to be ground up before you eat them unlike other seeds such as flax or hemp. When the seeds are added to liquid, they absorb large amounts of water and become gel like. The gel-forming property of chia seed tends to slow digestion and sustain balanced blood sugar levels. Whole, water-soaked chia seeds can be easily digested and absorbed.
Chia Seeds Are Gluten free
This makes them an ideal food for Coeliacs and those who are intolerant to wheat and oats.
Chia seeds are extremely versatile
The seeds can be sprinkled directly onto salads, breakfast cereals, soups and sauces. You can also add them to smoothies, shakes and other fruit drinks. Alternatively, chia seeds can be soaked in water to form a gel that can be used as a base for a range of desserts or to thicken drinks.
My favourite way to eat chia seeds
Chia porridge with fruit
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
Almond milk (or other nut milk) – about 200 mls
Fresh fruit – e.g. strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, banana
- Place almond milk in a bowl
- Mix chia seeds into milk and leave to thicken for at least an hour or overnight
- If the porridge is too thick add more liquid (milk or water)
- Add sweetener such as agave or honey if desired
- Top with fruit
Have you tried Chia seeds? Why not give them a go?