Superfood series - C H I A

 Chia seeds

Chia seeds

The best part about Chia seeds for me, has got to be how fibre rich they are and how easy they are to use. You can add them to smoothies, sprinkle them on your morning porridge or on salads and even use them as an egg substitute in baking. They are pretty much tasteless which makes them a fantastic fibre supplement instead of the alternative, rather disgusting, and choke worthy - psyllium husks. I have about 1-2 tablespoons of Chia almost every day. A tablespoon on my porridge for breakfast and another in my smoothie after lunch.

Chia was first used by the Aztecs and Mayans as early as 3500 B.C. They were used in many ways, mixed with water, other foods or in medicines, drunk as a beverage, ground into flour or pressed for oil. The aztecs also offered chia to the gods during religious ceremonies.

The ancient civilizations believed that the chia seed provided supernatural powers. In Mayan, “chia” means “strength.” This probably has to do with the large amounts of energy provided by chia seeds. Ancient warriors attributed their stamina to this tiny seed. This still holds true for certain groups of people today. The Mexican Tarahumara tribe is famous for their runners. These runners drink a mixture of chia seeds, lemon, and water called Iskiate. After drinking this, they are said to be able to run hundreds of miles.
— ancientgrains.com

The power of Chia lays in its impressive nutrient profile for such a tiny little seed. They are incredibly rich in plant based omega-3, dietary fibre, protein and antioxidants. They contain about, 37% dietary fibre, 20% omega 3 ALA, and 20% protein.

The protein in chia contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a ‘complete’ protein. This is incredibly rare for a plant based source of protein, and makes chia particularly beneficial for vegetarians and vegans. Amino acids are the building blocks of our bodies, and are essential for healthy muscles, hair, skin and nails. Omega-3 is a vital nutrient for brain function and overall health and vitality, while chia’s high levels of both soluble and insoluble fibre can aid digestion, helping you to feel fuller for longer and can also help maintain healthy levels of cholesterol.
— The Chia Co

Fibre is also beneficial in building and maintaining good gut bacteria which is very important in fighting disease. By adding a tablespoon of chia to your daily diet your getting 3g of omega-3 ALA and 6g of dietary fibre. They also contain a healthy dose of calcium plus iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper and magnesium.

The Chia Co writes about the health benefits of Chia in depth here and here. In brief Chia seeds provide...

  • Increased energy levels

  • Aid in mobility and muscle repair

  •  Improve digestion, bowel regulation and intestinal health

  •  Lower bad cholesterol and promote heart health

  •  Help with satiety and weight management

  •  Provide slow release energy, balance blood sugar and mood

  •  Benefit brain health with good fats

  •  Promote the health of hair, skin and nails

  •  Anti-inflammatory, gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, low saturated fat and OMS friendly

  •  Antioxidant rich - cell protective and anti-aging

  •  Affordable and available in the health section of your supermarket

For vegan baking you can try this easy chia egg recipe.

CHIA EGG RECIPE

This recipe equals 1 normal egg

  • Add 1 tablespoon of Chia Seeds to 3 tablespoons of water

  • Mix well or blend in a blender

  • Place in the fridge to set for 10 minutes
  • The Chia seeds will absorb the water and go all gooey
  • Add all of it to your desired recipe