Many of you would have heard about chia seeds after all the hype they have received being touted as a superfood. Considering all the amazing properties of this tiny seed, it becomes apparent that everyone could benefit by including chia in their diet.
Chia is native to Mexico and Guatemala and it is now grown commercially in Australia (in 2008, Australia was the world’s largest producer of chia). Black and white seed varieties are available, with both seeds having virtually the same nutritional properties. Chia is the richest plant-based source of Omega 3, dietary fibre, protein and antioxidants. The fibre is 80% insoluble and 20% soluble which is an optimal ratio to aid healthy digestion and promote bowel regularity. Chia also contains beneficial amounts of potassium, phosphorus, folate, zinc, iron, manganese and calcium.
Chia seeds are digestible without having to grind them so you get all the healthy benefits when consuming the whole seeds. They can be sprinkled onto salads, muesli, porridge, stirfrys, smoothies or muffins. You can also make a gel by mixing one part chia seeds to nine parts water. Leave the mixture to sit for 20 minutes and then stir thoroughly. This gel can be stored in an airtight container in your fridge for 2 weeks. Add a tablespoon of this gel to your food each day.
The availability of chia oil is important for those people wanting to increase their intake of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. The oil can be consumed straight from the spoon or added to salads or smoothies. You can also get chia bran, which is ideal for people requiring more fibre in their daily diet. Two tablespoons of bran will provide over half of your recommended daily fibre intake. If you want to use ground chia in your cooking (for breads or biscuits) you can put the seeds into a coffee grinder.
The consumption of chia can provide numerous health benefits owing to its dense nutrient composition. These benefits include increased energy, improved digestion, improved colonic health and bowel regularity, better skin tone, improved cardiovascular health and improvements in blood sugar issues such as diabetes and insulin sensitivity.
- Journal of Food Science: Chia Seed as a Source of Oil, Polysaccharide, and Protein
- Ecology of Food and Nutrition: The nutritional and chemical evaluation of Chia seeds
- Natural News: The Chia ‘Cheat Sheet’ and Ten Raw Chia Recipes
- The Chia Co: Chia Recipes