A while back, I talked about how I had discovered chia seeds whilst learning more about eating healthily. Today I want to share with you what I’ve learnt about chia seeds. What are chia seeds, what are their health benefits, nutrition and how do you use chia seeds? Chia seeds are an ancient South American seed that has been used for centuries. They are full of essential nutrients, making them a superfood!
Chia seeds are high in omega-3’s; in fact, they are the richest plant source of omega-3’s (essential fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation, keep your blood from clotting and can help to prevent cancer). Typically, we think of oily fish like salmon as being a high source of omega-3’s. Well, gram for gram chia seeds have more omega-3’s than salmon.
Chia seeds don’t only compete with salmon. A 2tbsp serving of chia seeds has twice the iron and magnesium than a cup of spinach, as much potassium than 1/3 of a banana, as much calcium as half a cup of milk, more than twice the fibre of a cup of porridge [source] and more antioxidants than blueberries. Pretty impressive for such a tiny seed!
That’s not all. Chia seeds are around about 20% protein and contain all eight essential amino acids, making them great for helping you to build muscle and tone up. They’re also very high in fibre, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. However, the high fibre content does mean that eating too many chia seeds could lead to an upset stomach. You really only need 1 to 4tbsp a day.
Chia seeds are able to absorb ten times their weight in fluid. This helps to prolong hydration by retaining water in your body. They can also help to absorb and remove toxins from your body, cleansing your colon and keeping it all healthy. Also, when soaked in water, the chia seeds form a gel which forms in the stomach and slows down the body converting carbohydrates into simple sugar. This helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable, keeping you fuller for longer and reducing your appetite. Mixing 1tbsp of chia seeds to 3tbsp water forms a gel that can be used as a substitute for eggs in baking recipes where the egg acts as a bonding agent, such as cakes and muffins. Their high antioxidant content means that they do not spoil easily and so have a long shelf life. Handy for keeping in your cupboard for adding to recipes!
The seeds have a very mild taste that make them great for mixing into things! I sprinkle 1tbsp onto my porridge in the mornings, but you can sprinkle them onto cereals, yogurt, and salads. Try drinking them mixed into juices, smoothies or water. Remember though if you do add them to water, they will form a gel so drink your water quite quickly. You can also add chia seeds to cake, muffin and bread recipes as well as pancake and waffle batter.
So, what do you think of their superfood status? Will you try chia seeds? If you have already tried them, how do you eat them?
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