Don’t be fooled by its size, because this tiny seed is highly nutritious. It is a complete protein, contains good amounts of the omega 3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), soluble fibre, antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus and manganese.
Being a complete protein means chia seeds contains all the amino acids (protein building blocks) that your body needs for optimal health. Although you don’t get as much protein from it as you would from animal sources like meat, eggs and dairy, it still may be useful for keeping energy levels sustained across the day, because protein offers slow release energy and keeps blood sugar levels steady, and supporting weight loss.
Omega 3 is an ‘essential’ fat – our bodies need it but cannot synthesize it, so it has to come from our diet. It has many functions, such as keeping cell membranes supple, controlling inflammation and supporting mental wellbeing, but many people are deficient. The type of omega 3 in chia (ALA) is not as useful to our bodies as the omega 3 in oily fish (EPA and DHA), but if you don’t eat oily fish, or limit your intake, then chia is worth considering for its omega 3, and it is thought to be a better source than flaxseed.
The slightly unusual gelatinous texture of soaked chia seeds is down to its high soluble fibre content and amazing ability to absorb 27 times its weight in water! Soluble fibre is gentle on the gut, it has been found to keep us fuller for longer and may support weight loss, reduce constipation and promote healthy cholesterol levels. Pregnant women suffering with constipation may find them particularly useful. If you have your chia seeds raw and do not soak them before eating though you should increase your water intake to benefit fully from their fibre.
When we talk about bone health we usually just think about calcium, but there are a number of other nutrients needed for strong bones, including manganese and phosphorus, all of which chia seeds are a great source of. Pregnant women, kids and anyone concerned about osteoporosis may benefit from adding chia seeds to their diet. Do not give kids more than 1tsp of dry seeds and always soak them well first.
As chia seeds are flavourless and incredibly versatile, there are a number of ways you can use them in your cooking:
- Sprout them, which makes them more nutritious – rinse and spread out on some wet kitchen paper, change the paper every 12 hours and in a day or two they should sprout. Delicious in salads.
- Use to thicken jams or soups.
- Add texture to breads and cakes or use in gluten-free baking as a binder.
- Soak overnight with coconut milk, fresh fruit and a little coconut sugar if liked for a filling breakfast or make-ahead pudding.
- Add to smoothies to increase protein and calcium content, or sprinkle over fresh juices (try our raspberry fresca below).
Follow this link if you would like to learn how to make a Red Raspberry Chia Fresca
Save on chia seeds Bespoke Nutrition in the Kitchen
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