Chia seeds have been widely promoted as being one of the latest ‘superfoods’.

Chia SeedsThe seeds come from salvia hispanica – a summer herbaceous plant that is part of the mint family and native to South America. It’s rumoured the Aztecs used to eat chia seeds as a preferred source of sustainable energy before hunting or going into battle!

Although the seeds are small, they can swell up to 12 times in size when used in cooking or eaten and don’t have to be ground or cooked.

 

What’s All The Fuss About?
Chia seeds are classed as a complete protein – containing all nine of the essential amino acids that are considered necessary for humans.

Complete proteins generally come from animal foods, which makes these seeds a potentially important part of a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Let’s take a look at some other notable benefits of chia seeds:

  • fairly low in calories – 137 cals per ounce
  • good source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids
  • excellent fibre content – 11 grams per ounce
  • virtually all chia seeds’ carbs are fibre
  • useful protein content – 4 grams per ounce
  • rich in the important minerals manganese, phosphorus and calcium
  • high in antioxidants
  • can help reduce appetite and cravings
  • some studies have linked the seeds to helping with weight loss (as part of a healthy diet)
  • a particular study on type 2 diabetics found chia seeds helped to lower their blood pressure and reduce inflammation

Useful Ideas for Using Chia Seeds

Apart from their impressive nutritional benefits, chia seeds have many other potential uses, and can be:

  • an alternative to an egg mixture – mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tbsp of water. Sit for 10 minutes to allow mixture to thicken
  • added to porridge
  • sprinkled on cereal
  • a topping for yogurt
  • added to cooked rice
  • sprinkled into servings of veg
  • an alternative to breadcrumbs
  • used to thicken gravies and sauces
  • sprouted to use in salads
photo credit - Nuytsia@Tas (flickr)

photo credit – Nuytsia@Tas (flickr)

Recipe Ideas
Chia seeds feature in many recipes – particularly for breakfast, puddings and smoothies. A few recipes I personally like:

Chia Seed and Coconut Pudding

Chia Seed Porridge

Overnight Chia Seed Pudding with Star Anise Cherries

Super Chia Squares

Chia Seed and Coconut Smoothie