We've had buckwheat, kamut, faro and quinoa, and now it seems we can add the benefits of chia seeds to our ever-growing list of wholegrain foods. Although ‘chia’ is technically a seed, health advisors are going crazy about the health benefits, diversity and ways to use chia seeds.
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica which grows mainly in South America. The word "chia" comes from the Mayan word meaning "strength." Ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs and the Mayans used the seeds as a source of energy and power.
Chia seeds are a rich source of nutrients and healthy fats. Just one ounce (28 grams) of these seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 5 grams of Omega-3s. In addition, it delivers 18% of your recommended daily amount (RDA) of calcium, 30% of manganese RDA, 30% of your magnesium RDA and 27% of phosphorus RDA; along with zinc, potassium and B-vitamins—all in only 137 calories.
If you are going to be stranded on a desert island, a supply of chia seeds could be your salvation!
The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
We've already covered some of the health benefits of chia seeds, but they have many more uses. Those on a weight-loss program will find chia seeds are high in quality protein which reduces the appetite and temptation to snack. They are high in fiber which slows down digestion and leaves you feeling fuller for longer which can all help you lose weight.
As the chia seeds pass through the digestive tract, they feed the good bacteria, yet another boost to health. Brimming with omega-3s, another benefit of chia seeds is that it has more omega-3, gram for gram, than salmon! With all these positives, it’s no wonder that chia seeds are promoted by healthy specialists for being heart healthy, lowering triglycerides and the risk of diabetes.
Ways to Use Chia Seeds in Your Diet
Ways to use chia seeds are almost as numerous as the benefits of chia seeds. Grind one tablespoon in a food processor and add 3 tablespoons water to replace one egg in baking recipes. Blend the seeds with coconut milk, natural sweetener and cocoa powder then leave in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to make a delicious thick pudding.
Use chia seeds to thicken soups and gravies. Just sprinkle on top, or use ground chia seeds in place of breadcrumbs. Finally, eat in salads like beansprouts or just chew on them whole as a snack.
With so many excellent ways to use chia seeds, you'll wonder how you ever managed without them.