Superfood portrait 2: Chia seeds

chia heart

Chia is one of the healthiest, nutrition-packed food around and it has to be one of my favourite superfoods. Chia is an edible seed from a flowering plant native to Mexico and Guatemala. Research is confirming that the Aztecs were right about the medicinal properties of Chia seeds…those tiny little seeds are pretty amazing!

Chia is gluten-free. It contains high levels of protein (all 8 essential amino acids!), sodium, calcium, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and is the richest plant source of heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (it contains 8 times more omegas than pink salmon)! Those vital fats protect your body from inflammation such as arthritis and heart disease, and are supportive of your cardiovascular health. Chia also offers an excellent alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids for vegetarians and people allergic to fish and fish products. The Chia seeds contain 18% of the recommended daily intake of calcium, 27% phosphorus and 30% manganese.

Chia means ‘oily’ in the Nahuatl language, a Mexican dialect of the Spanish language. That is why it is not surprising to learn that Chia seeds have a unique ability to absorb roughly 10 times their weight in water (See Chia pudding recipe below). Because of this ability, the seeds form a gel in the stomach that slows down carbohydrate absorption to keep you feeling fuller longer. The Chia gel is extremely satiating and will therefore reduce your food cravings. The gel made by the Chia seeds equally slows down the carbohydrate conversion into sugars, indicating that those tiny but super powerful seeds have great benefits for diabetics.

Chia seeds are also an excellent source of dietary fiber which supports the healing of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and other digestion issues. Chia also helps to soothe heartburn and has a calming effect on the gastrointestinal system.

Due to its high amount of calcium (the calcium content of Chia seeds is about six times that of milk), Chia is a good way to get some calcium for your bones, especially if you eat a vegan diet or avoid dairy products.

Consuming Chia seeds daily is an excellent complement to your healthy diet and intake of vegetables. It has 3 times the iron content of spinach, twice as much potassium as in bananas, 15 times more magnesium than broccoli, and 9 times more selenium than flax seeds. Nutritionists recommend an intake of 15 to 20g (1 to 4 tablespoons) each day. Make sure to drink plenty of water as Chia is high in dietary fiber.

There are two varieties of chi seeds: black seeds and white seeds. Research has shown that there is no significant difference in nutritional content. White seeds are more expensive as they are rarer, and they contain slightly less antioxidants. You can find organic Chia seeds at your health shop.

 

How to use it

• sprinkle on salads, smoothies, yogurt, porridges, puddings, stir fries, breakfast cereals

• sprinkle on top of any dish really; chia has a mild nutty flavor

• in the Central American drink “chia fresca”, which includes chia, water, lemon or lime juice

• you can also soak them in your organic and natural favourite fruit juice

• chia pudding

Chia seeds are very easy to digest and do not need to be ground. You can, however grind them into a flour and use it in your bread, baked goods, or as a soup thickener, if you wish.

 

Recipe for chia pudding

It is very easy and so delicious! All you need is:

• 2 tbs chia seeds

• 1/2 cup of vegetal or nut milk such as rice/almond milk or coconut water

• 1 tsp cinnamon

 

Optional

• 1 tsp raw honey

• shredded coconut

• some blueberries

• 1 tbs cacao powder

Mix the Chia seeds with the coconut water or nut milk. Stir well and let sit for 10 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients.

Yummy Chia PuddingLet it sit and thicken to your desired consistency.

 

Enjoy! For more yummy recipes, click here.

 

 

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