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Chia seed puddings have kind of catapulted chia seeds into the healthy food bracket. Today they are one of the most popular superfoods on the shelf and widely available in bespoke and large food stores. But what are the health benefits of eating chia seeds? Yes they are versatile and great for a wide variety of recipes, but are there any negatives? Read on to learn more.
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds originate from Mexico and look a lot like black sesame seeds. Like most other superfoods, they consumed by local cultures for thousands of years for their medicinal properties and nutrient value. Dating back to Mayan and Aztec times, these seeds were apparently consumed by warriors for energy. In fact, the word chia itself means ‘strength’.
What are the Health Benefits of Eating Chia Seeds?
There are lots of health benefits of eating chia seeds making it a great addition to today’s diet. They contain a variety of minerals, vitamins, proteins and fats.
- Energy Boost: The Aztecs were said to eat chia to keep hunger at bay helping their endurance and energy levels. Fibre is essential to help with blood sugar balance and chia sure has a lot of it! This also means adding chia seeds to meals help you to feel fuller for longer and get a more steady state energy release.
- Health skin and anti-ageing: Chia seeds are one of nature’s highest sources of antioxidants and also contain healthy fats and skin loving vitamin E
- Healthy fats: chia seeds are a great source of alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid (omega 3 fats) along with fat soluble vitamins A, E and D.
- Thyroid/metabolism support: Chia contains iodine which the thyroid loves, meaning it also helps with metabolism since thyroid is the master hormone in this department.
- Gut health: With the good fibre content, chia helps to keep everything moving through your gut in a timely manner. With its gel-like texture, chia has also been considered to be a good prebiotic.
- Bone and dental health: Chia seeds are a good source of calcium, fundamental in bone health, bone strength and mass.
Note of caution!
Chia seeds can absorb up to ten times their weight in water. While they can be great for hydration, it can also absorb water from you during digestion. So just make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated if you are consuming them.
Chia seeds require a specific growing environment to maximise the omega 3 content. This includes temperature, weather and sunlight. Always buy organic and look for mostly black seeds with a few white speckled through. Avoid brown.
Recipe Ideas for Chia Seeds:
As mentioned at the start of this article, chia seeds are incredibly versatile in cooking. Chia seeds have a mild and nutty taste. While they can be eaten raw, the best way to obtain the full mineral and vitamin profile is to soak and pre-digest the seed. This is essentially sprouting the seed and neutralising the enzyme inhibitors. To soak chia seeds, simply mix about 1.5 tablespoons chia seeds in one cup of water.
Here are just a few suggestions:
- The famous chia seed pudding. Just type it into google and you will get thousands of recipes to try out at home; vegan, low carb, high fat, keto and more.
- Chia seed jam: Make your own jam/compote from fresh or frozen berries and add chia to thicken it up
- In stews/soups: A very easy add to main meals likes soups and stews
- Add it to smoothies: Add chia to smoothies for a little texture and thickness.
- Topping: use chia seeds as a topping on salads, porridge, fresh fruit, in yogurt.
So there, you have it – what are the health benefits of eating chia seeds, what to watch out for and how to enjoy them!