charming chia - is it all it's cracked up to be?

 
They are teeny-tiny in size, but enormous in their health benefits. Chia seeds seem to be all the rage in health food circles right now and for good reason. They bring a whole range of health benefits ranging from building strong bones, reducing the signs of ageing, to promoting healthy hearts. They are also extremely versatile ingredients in a whole host of different dishes and drinks. However, do chia seeds really warrant their superfood status? Let’s explore these tiny black or white seeds and see whether they are all they have been cracked up to be.
 

Chia seeds are nutrient dense

 

When it comes to nutrient density, chia seeds certainly pack a powerful punch. When looking at the nutrient profile, we can see that they include many beneficial vitamins and minerals.[i] Some of their key positive qualities include being a good source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, dietary fibre, protein, omega 3 ALA and a host of antioxidants.

 

Chia seeds are considered a whole-grain food and they are really easily absorbed by the body, meaning your body will benefit from all the nutrients they contain when you eat them.

 

Chia seeds are energy boosting

 

Chia seeds weren’t known as runner’s food by the Mayans for no reason! Just one tablespoon of chia seeds can be extremely powerful, providing endurance, strength and energy when added to the diet. Chia seeds have the ability to slow down sugar absorption which means that they slow the process of converting sugar and carbohydrates into energy. In this way they provide a sustained energy boost without adding any sugar, which is perfect for enhancing exercise performance for athletes or anyone who likes to work out.

 

Chia seeds are high in antioxidants

 

Chia seeds have some of the highest levels of antioxidants of any food.[ii] Our body benefits from antioxidants as they help to minimise free radical activity in our cells, which can cause disease and illness. Antioxidants are also necessary to protect and repair our skin from damage caused by inflammation and free radicals, meaning that chia seeds have the power to slow down ageing of the skin.

 

 

Chia seeds are high in fibre

 

One ounce (28g/2 tbsp) of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fibre, meaning just one serving provides the daily recommended intake. We need fibre in order to have healthy digestion, as well as for keeping our blood sugar levels balanced. Another benefit of eating a fibre-rich diet is that it helps us to feel full for longer, thus curbing appetite. The soluble fibre in chia seeds means that when they expand in the gut, they work as a prebiotic that supports the growth of healthy bacteria needed for good overall health and digestion.

 

Chia seeds are high in calcium  

 

One ounce of chia seeds has 18% of the recommended daily amount of calcium, which is essential for bone strength and for maintaining healthy bone mass. It also contains boron which is a mineral that assists the body to metabolise calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. This combination of calcium and boron make chia seeds great for healthy bones, teeth and muscle development

 

Chia seeds are high in protein

 

One of the reasons that health-conscious people love chia seeds so much is that they are high in protein. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contain four grams of protein, making them a top plant-based protein source. This make means they are perfect food for athletes or people who want to put on lean muscle.

 

 

Chia seeds help make healthy hearts

 

Consuming chia seeds can be good for your heart due to their highOmega-3 fatty acid content which means they can reduce inflammation in the body, reduce bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure. [iii] They also help to reverse oxidative stress which makes them a truly heart-healthy food.

 

Chia seeds are versatile

 

Chia seeds are extremely neutral in taste, and can be eaten raw, soaked to form a gel, ground into a flour, or sprouted. They expand to 21 times their weight when soaked, turning them into a paste known as chia gel. This chia gel can be used as an egg replacement in baking, a thickener in sauces and smoothies, as well a key ingredient in overnight oats and puddings. Ground chia can be used as a flour in baking, and they can also just be sprinkled whole onto cereal or added into drinks.

 

Chia seed drawbacks

 

The only downside to chia seeds is that they need to be soaked before eating them whole, so that they are easier for your body to digest. They can make your body slightly dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water when eating them, just because they are so great at absorbing liquid[iv].

 

There really are so many benefits to your health in eating chia seeds that it seems they do live up to all their hype. With so many easy ways to incorporate chia seeds into your diet there is no excuse not to give them a try for yourself and to experience the many health benefits that consuming them can bring.

 

Why not try our deliciously rich chocolate and banana chia pudding to get you started?

 

 


[i] http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2

[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24811150

[iv] http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20141021/use-chia-seeds-with-caution-researcher-warns

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