If you're looking for a healthy snack or some additional sources of protein and fibre in your diet then look no further.
These tiny powerhouse seeds have been around for a very long time but many people are not aware of the benefits they provide or how easily they can be enjoyed.
Over the last few years, Chai seeds have gained the status as a true superfood and for good reason. The seeds come from a plant called “Salvia Hispanica”, native to Central and South America and although they're tiny, they are packed full of important nutrients.
From fibre, protein and omega3, this tiny seed contains so much goodness to support health. There are even reports of both the ancient Aztec and the Mayan warriors consuming chia seeds on the battlefield as a quick form of energy due to how densely packed it’s nutrients are.
We've put together a list of the top 4 benefits and some ways you can start incorporating chia into your diet today.
1. Loaded with antioxidants
Surprisingly chia seeds have an extremely high antioxidant content. When we talk about antioxidants most people think of blueberries and herbs like turmeric but chia provides its own unique profile of antioxidants to support your health.
Antioxidants are important molecules in food that scavenge and neutralise free radicals in your body. Free radicals contribute to cellular ageing and DNA damage that is the root cause of most chronic disease.
2. Solublefibre for gut health
Chia seeds are a great source of fibre and are very low in insulin spiking carbohydrates.
A 28g serving (roughly 2 tablespoons) provides 10g fibre which provides 40% of your recommended daily intake.
Chia seeds can absorb up to 12x their weight in water so they help to keep you feel fuller for longer.
Almost half of a 30g chia seed is carbohydrates (13g), what’s important though is that 12 of those 13 grams are soluble fibre which slows the digestion of the energy.
Fibre is very different from other carbohydrate types (like sugar) as it doesn’t raise your blood sugar levels. This means you don’t experience a rapid energy level spike and instead can enjoy a more sustained release of energy from your food.
Further, this type of carbohydrate does not require insulin to be processed by your body and supports the growth of good bacteria in your gut acting as a prebiotic.
Chia is packed with protein! Around 14% of the chia seed is protein, which is far higher than other plants.
The benefits of chia seed protein come from its amino acid profile. Amino acids are what protein is built from and the different ratios dictate the quality of the protein and how our body can use it. Most plant sources of protein lack a complete amino acid profile for our bodies to use. Chia seeds, however, contain a complete amino acid profile similar to meat, making them an excellent source of protein to help keep your body strong.
Protein also suppresses your appetite and keeps you feeling fuller for longer, meaning it can reduce your desire for snacking which is always helpful.
4. Chia seeds are packed with important minerals!
Chia seeds provide high amounts of many minerals, specifically:
Manganese: Most whole grains and seeds are rich in manganese, which is an essential nutrient involved in many chemical processes in the body, including processing of cholesterol, carbohydrates, and protein.
Phosphorus: Phosphorus is the second most plentiful mineral in your body. The first is calcium. Your body needs phosphorus for many functions, such as filtering waste and repairing tissue and cells.
Copper: Copper helps the body form collagen and absorb iron, and plays a role in energy production. Too little copper can affect how the brain works. Impairments have been linked to Menkes, Wilson's, and Alzheimer's disease
Iron: A 28g serving of chia contains 12% of your daily required iron. As a component of hemoglobin in red blood cells, iron is involved in the transport of oxygen throughout the body.
Magnesium: Often lacking in the Western diet, it produces energy and regulates blood sugar and chemical reactions in the body.
Calcium: The most abundant mineral in your body, calcium is essential for bones, muscles, and nerves.
How to use chia seeds:
You can buy chia seeds from most health food stores and some supermarkets. They can be added to smoothies, mixed into your breakfast cereal or oatmeal. They also go great with salads if you like some extra crunch.
One of our favourite snacks is chia pudding and is so easy to make! When you soak the seeds in liquid they expand and soften.
Follow these 3 easy steps to make your own:
Stir 4 tablespoons of chia seeds with 1 cup of coconut milk and add a small amount of water to help it stir.
Once mixed well, let the bowl rest for 5 minutes and then give it another stir before storing it in the fridge. This will break up any clumps that form. We want the pudding to set for at least 2 hours, but ideally overnight.
After resting and setting the chia pudding should be thick and able to wobble like a jelly. If you have a runny pudding just add more seeds and if it gets too thick you can add some more water.
They are not only great in a pudding however! Chia seeds are small and have a mild flavour, so it’s really easy to add them to almost any dish.