Chia, meaning ‘strength’ in Mayan may be the ‘it food’ of the moment, but Aztec civilisations have been using chia seeds for thousands of years. These nutty, gluten-free seeds are packed full of the essential vitamins and minerals our body needs, making them the ideal superfood.
From athletes to lifestyle bloggers, celebrities to mums, everyone seems to be talking about chia seeds. So what is all the fuss about?
Loads of nutrients, very few calories
Chia seeds may be small, but they’re packed full of nutritional value, making them one of the most nutritional food sources in the world.
Just one ounce (28g) of chia seeds contains 11g of fibre, 4g of protein and 5g Omega-3 fat. Not forgetting a hearty helping of zinc and vitamin B1, B2 and B3. All that in one ounce, and at only 137 calories.
They’re vegan and allergen friendly
Chia seeds are free from gluten and most other common allergens. They offer vegans and vegetarians a great sources of omega acids and protein.
When mixed with water, chia seeds make a great replacement for eggs in vegan recipes. Simply mix 3 tablespoons of water with 1 tablespoon of ground chia seed to make the equivalent of one egg.
Encourages strong healthy bones and teeth
With a higher calcium content than most dairy products, chia seeds are perfect for those following a dairy-free lifestyle, or those just simply looking to increase their calcium intake.
Just a tablespoon contains 8% of your recommended daily allowance of calcium in just one gram, these tiny seeds can help play a vital role in the health of your bones and teeth. Don’t forget, chia is the Mayan word for ‘strength’, and they weren’t kidding.
Promotes beautiful skin
So we know that chia seeds are full of wonder nutrients, but what effect do they have on our skin? Wellitamin E, the antioxidant which combats inflammation and wrinkles, omega 3 which not only benefits your skin, but also promotes hair growth and nail health, zinc which has long been known as a great anti-ageing essential and finally, protein which helps make skin, nails and hair feel stronger.
Can help conquer cravings
It may sound gross, but bear with us here… Thanks to the seeds high fibre content, when chia seeds are exposed to water, it forms a gummy coating, meaning that each seed is increased in size and weight, therefore making you feel fuller, fight cravings and slow digestion. Chia seeds are particularly good for trimming the waistline as they contain fewer carbs to feed these fat cells. Pass us the chia seeds now!
Not only do they make you feel fuller, but chia seeds can help keep you hydrated. Absorbing 10-12 times their weight in water, that gel-like substance is a key provider for the utilisation of fluid within the body. Who’d have thought it?
Natural energy booster
Thousands of years ago, it’s said that Aztec warriors would consume a tablespoon of chia seeds once a day. They called it ‘running food’ and they weren’t joking…
Sustained by chia seeds, the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico were renowned for their barefoot, long-distance running abilities and developed a tradition of running 200 miles over just two days, in order to get from one settlement to the next. Their hunting practices stand out in time; chasing down their prey until it was so exhausted to escape.
That’s thanks to the complex carbohydrates which break down slowly to maintain energy, improving stamina and endurance. It’s no surprise that chia seeds are a popular superfood amongst athletes today.
Promotes lean muscle
Any gym-goer will tell you that to build lean muscle, you need protein… and lots of it! As chia seeds are 20% protein, they’re the perfect post-workout snack.
Can help lower cholesterol
High cholesterol is a common problem that effects people all around the world, chia seeds may be able to help. High in omega-3 fatty acids and ALA, these essential fatty acids increase HDL (good cholesterol) and decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides.
Study: The Promising Future of Chia (2012), Norlaily Mohd Ali, Swee Keong Yeap, Wan Yong Ho, Boon Kee Beh, Sheau Wei Tan and Soon Guan Tan
Helps blood sugar regulation
Many studies have looked into the effect of chia seeds on blood sugar regulation. Thanks to the low glycemic index of chia seeds, blood sugars don’t spike and crash as they do with refined carbohydrates. Meaning blood sugar levels remain at a more constant level. This is particularly important for diabetics.
Study: Supplementation of Conventional Therapy With the Novel Grain Salba (Salvia hispanica L.) Improves Major and Emerging Cardiovascular Risk Factors (2007) Vladimir Vuksan, Dana Whitham, John L. Sievenpiper, Alexandra L. Jenkins, Alexander L. Rogovik, Richard P. Bazinet, Edward Vidgen and Amir Hanna
Last but not least… you can use them in tonnes of ways
Thanks to the mild taste, chia seeds can be enjoyed in a number of ways; sprinkle them on salads, add them to smoothies or even substitute them for eggs! Here are just a few of our favourite recipes.
Jamie Oliver’s overnight chia seed pudding recipe
¼ cup chia seeds
1½ cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons pure (vegan friendly) maple syrup
1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (about 8) frozen or fresh pitted cherries
¾ cup water
1 star anise pod
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
In a bowl or glass jar, combine the chia seeds, almond milk, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and the vanilla. Stir, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
In a saucepan, combine the cherries, water, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and star anise. Bring it to a boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer until the water has reduced and has thickened slightly, probably about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the star anise.
In a dry frying pan over medium heat, toast almonds until golden.
To serve, pour cherry compote over chia seed pudding and top with toasted almonds.
Blueberry & chia seed smoothie
Combine chia seeds and ½ cup almond milk and stir thoroughly to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Throw all the ingredients into the blender, along with the chia seeds and milk blend until smooth.
Chia oatmeal cookies
1½ tablespoons chia seeds
¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 ripe bananas, mashed
¾ cup oats
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup chopped dates
¼ cup dark chocolate chunks
1 tablespoon almond butter
Pinch of cinnamon
Stir together the chia seeds and almond milk and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes.
Pour the chia seed gel into a mixing bowl and add in the mashed bananas, oats, coconut, almond butter and cinnamon until well combined.
Gently stir in the dates and chocolate chunks.
Scoop out dough (about 1-2 tablespoons worth) onto a baking sheet and shape to form cookies.
Place in a pre-heated oven of 180°c and bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the bottom of the cookies have browned a tiny bit.
Take them out, cool and enjoy.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to source the most up to date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that remedies in our articles are effective, when in doubt, consult your GP or a qualified Medicinal Herbalist. Remember also that herbal remedies can be dangerous under certain circumstances therefore you should always seek medical advice before self-treating with a homemade remedy, especially if you are pregnant, breast feeding or suffer from any known illness which could be adversely affected by self-treatment.
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