Chia Seeds Many WaysMar 28, 2023
Chia seeds are the edible seeds of Salvia hispanica, a flowering plant in the mint family. They are native to areas of Mexico and Guatemala but are commonly cultivated in many areas in North and South America. They have increased in popularity over the years and become a staple in the diets of the health conscious. Is it possible that this is just another super food fad or should we all be implementing this seed into our diet?
Not only can they be enjoyed in a variety of ways, but chia seeds also come packed
with a slew of health benefits. A common dosage recommendation is about 1.5 tablespoons of chia seeds twice per day. Chia seeds contain the highest fibre out of all the seeds and it is important to drink plenty of water to prevent any digestive side effects or dehydration. Chia has long been highly valued for its medicinal properties and nutritional value and the benefits are even greater than scientists initially realised; chia means “strength” in the Mayan language. According to Ayurveda, chia seeds can help nourish the blood and promote digestive regularity thanks to their ability to absorb water in the gastrointestinal tract, forming a gel-like substance.
28 grams of chia seeds contain approximately:
- 137 calories
- 12.3 grams carbohydrates
- 4.4 grams protein
- 8.6 grams fat
- 10.6 grams dietary fibre
- 0.6 milligram manganese (30 percent DV)
- 265 milligrams phosphorus (27 percent DV)
- 177 milligrams calcium (18 percent DV)
- 1 milligram zinc (7 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram copper (3 percent DV)
- 44.8 milligrams potassium (1 percent DV)
In addition to the nutrients listed above, chia contains some vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin E and vitamin D, plus minerals such as iron, iodine, magnesium, niacin and thiamine.
Some of the benefits:
- Antioxidants to support healthy skin
- Fibre to promote digestive health
- Omega 3 for improved heart health
- Balance blood sugar and preventing spikes
- Helps maximise the storage of glycogen in the muscles and liver to optimise endurance and boost exercise performance
- Loaded with calcium and manganese, two minerals that can reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Increasing your intake of protein can help promote weight loss by curbing cravings and cutting caloric intake
- Full of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and zinc, which helps promote dental and oral health
Flax and hemp seeds are also extremely popular and the use of all three can be very beneficial for getting more nutrients when eating vegan or vegetarian. Flax has been linked to protection against cancer and heart disease; in order to reap their full benefit they need to be ground which takes more time. Hemp seeds contain the highest plant based protein however, they contain a much higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids; a nutrient that most of us get too much of already. You can find chia seeds in supermarkets in many types such as black, white, milled and pre-hydrated. It is possible to find them in the form of oil for holistic purposes and the seeds can also be grown at home.
Here are some ways to implement them into your diet:
- Smoothies - add texture and nutrients to your fruit and veggie smoothies
- Salad Dressings - avoid the artificial ingredients found in many salad dressings by making this chia seed vinaigrette; it combines chia seeds with honey, Dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar
- Pudding - all you need to make vanilla bean chia pudding is almond milk, chia seeds, and any other toppings to add flavour
- Baked Goods - if you’re not a fan of chia seeds’ gelatin-like texture, try adding them to baked goods; chia gel helps keep baked goods moist and may be used in place of eggs or as a thickener
- Granola, Protein Bars, or Energy Bars - try making chia seed energy bars made from dates, coconut oil, chia seeds, vanilla, and any add-ins you choose such as dark chocolate, coconut, and dried fruits
- Chia Drinks - expensive chia drinks are all the rage in health food stores and juice bars. Save money and make your own by adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of chia seeds to 2 cups water or coconut water and 1 cup fruit juice or pureed fresh fruit. Let the mixture sit until thickened, and stir before drinking.
- Popsicles - if you’re looking for a way to sneak nutrients to picky eaters, add chia seeds to homemade popsicles; most store-bought popsicles are loaded with sugar, artificial colours, and artificial flavourings, so creating your own is a healthier choice
- Breadcrumbs - a great low-carb substitute in recipes that use breadcrumbs as a binder, you will typically need to use less chia than breadcrumbs; for most recipes, 1 to 2 tablespoons is all it takes
- Jam - the seeds serve as a natural gel thickener, chia seed jam is thinner than traditional jam, but easy to spread on toast and muffins, or drizzle over yoghurt, hot cereal, and ice cream
- Eggs - scramble your eggs as normal and add a tablespoon or two to the pan for an extra punch
Because of their high fibre content, eating too many chia seeds may cause constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, and gas. Chia seeds may also cause flare-ups with inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn's disease. Dry chia seeds absorb water, which causes them to swell up and become gelatinous. Chia seeds deserve a place on any superfood list so we do recommend adding them to your diet slowly. Start with once or twice a week in the mornings to work it into your diet gradually so that you don’t experience any of the negative side effects. Be sure to drink plenty of water especially when increasing your fibre consumption.
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