Chia seeds are among the healthiest foods on the planet. They are loaded with nutrients that can have important benefits for your body and brain.
You may have seen chia seeds added to your bread, muesli, salads, or drinks, but not known much about them. Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica, which is related to the mint, and are native to South America. Chia is actually the ancient Mayan word for energy.
Gram for gram, they pack a powerful nutritional punch. One their own, they are relatively bland, but they can be added to many different foods to add nutrients. Chia seeds are gluten free, whole grain and are usually grown organically.
High in fibre
Almost all the carbohydrates in chia seeds are fibre, which your body does not absorb as calories. The fibre helps you feel fuller for longer and aids healthy digestion. They are able to absorb 10-12 times their weight in water, so can add bulk to dishes (see below for a healthy breakfast idea). They can be used to thicken sauces and even used as egg substitutes in recipes. They can also be mixed with water and turned into a gel.
High in protein
Chia seeds are high in quality protein, much higher than most plant foods. Protein is the most weight-loss-friendly macronutrient and can help reduce appetite and cravings.
Rich in essential vitamins and minerals
Chia seeds are high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and protein. All of these nutrients are essential for bone health.
Other than making an excellent egg replacer in recipes chia seeds can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, added to porridges and puddings, or added to baked goods. You can also sprinkle them on top of cereal, yogurt, vegetables or rice dishes.
Chia seeds are available in the bulk foods section of many supermarkets.
For a healthy breakfast in warm weather; try a chia ‘porridge’.
Soak 2 tbsp of chia seeds in 1/3-1/2 cup of almond or coconut milk – or you could use regular milk and a small splash of sweetener such as maple syrup). Add a splash of vanilla essence and leave for 15 minutes for the liquid to absorb. (Start with 1/3 of a cup of liquid, stir after a few minutes and add more liquid depending on the texture you desire.)
Sprinkle with chopped raw nuts, fresh fruit and even a dollop of yoghurt for a filling and highly nutritious breakfast.