Chia seeds, they’re tiny little nutrient packed things aren’t they?
The only time I’d seen and heard the word chia was when it was in front of latte, ‘Chia Latte’. It was a few years ago now, but oh my gosh, it tasted amazing. Nothing to do with the added sugars, froffy milk, and festive mug mind you.
I didn’t pay too much attention to the word ‘chia’ again until I completed my studies in sports nutrition. I learned that chia seeds were a superfood with an inordinate amount of health benefits. But before I tell you all about the health benefits, lets look at what chia seeds are.
Chia seeds are really small, I mean tiny. When I think of seeds, I think of sunflower seeds, so when I opened the packet, it caught me off guard slightly. I thought, similar to sunflower seeds, I would add them to salads, which you can do, but initially I felt a little confused. They made me think of the seeds of dragon fruits, and sesame seeds.
Chia seeds derive from the plant Salvia Hispanica, a flowering plant, which is part of the mint family. The plant originates from South and Central America, and were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayans. The word chia is the ancient Mayan word for strength, sold!
Chia seeds are rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. They’re also a rich source of anti-oxidants.
A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains (1, 2):
Fiber: 11 grams.
Protein: 4 grams.
Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.
The omega-3 keeps you mentally alert and assists in maintaining a healthy heart, the fiber helps your body eliminate toxins and keeps you regular. The protein content contains all the 9 amino acids to assist with the growth and repair of blood cells, tissue and muscle collagen. And the antioxidants help prevent disease and boost energy. Chia seeds also helps control blood sugar levels by providing a prolonged release of energy rather than the high and low spikes we get from carbs.
I personally try and add chai seeds to as many of my meals as possible. They’re relatively tasteless so blend easily into smoothies, porridge, quinoa, rice dishes, most meals generally. Last night I added them to my evening fruit and yogurt snack.
There are three main ways of preparing chia seeds. You can soak them; this makes it easier for them to be digested and also allows your body to access the dense nutrients inside the seeds. To soak chia seeds mix them in a 1:10 ration chia seed to water (1.5 tablespoons chain seed to one cup of water). They need approximately 30 minutes, up to 2 hours, for the absorption to be complete, so be sure to allow plenty of time.
Chai seeds can be ground, and are gluten-free, so can be added to your baking recipes like flour. They can be used to make pancakes, muffins and breads. It might be worth sourcing white chai seeds if you are going to use them to bake with, purely from an aesthetics perspective.
The final method is consuming chia seeds whole. They are relatively tasteless so blend easily into smoothies, porridge, quinoa, rice dishes, most meals generally. Last night I added them to my evening fruit and yogurt snack. But be warned, they stick in your teeth!