Chia Seeds Tiny but Mighty
These tiny seeds are loaded with nutrients and are easily incorporated into your every day diet. These seeds are great all-rounders, and are rich in plant based omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fibre. Chia seeds are one of the richest known sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body uses to create DHA and EPA — two different types of omega-3 fatty acids. These two fatty acids are essential for proper immune function, reducing inflammation in the body, normal brain function and mental development. As the body can not create EPA or DHA from any other type of fatty acid, the consumption of ALA is essential.
These black and white seeds pack a protein punch! They are one of the few plants to contain all essential amino acids — which are the building blocks your body needs for daily repair and growth. Try including chia seeds with your breakfast to help you sustain your energy through to midday and keep morning munchies at bay.
Chia seeds have the unique property of swelling up when mixed with fluid, this is because they contain a large ratio of soluble fibre. Soluble fibre has the ability to add bulk to your stools and aid in proper elimination, and it also slows the absorption of sugars. By slowing the absorption of sugar, chia seeds help us to maintain even blood sugar levels, which helps with weight gain, moods, and concentration.
The swelling property of the soluble fibre in chia seeds also has another important role to play. It is able to trap fatty acids — such as cholesterol, and unwanted hormones. Once trapped these substances can be safely excreted. Recent studies indicate that daily consumption of chia seeds can decrease LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol levels, and increase HDL (‘good’) cholesterol levels, which helps to reduce; inflammation in the body, and the risk of heart disease.
Chia seeds are a good source of calcium, phosphorus and contain potassium too, all nutrients which are needed for healthy bone growth and maintenance.
HOW TO USE CHIA SEEDS
Chia Seed Pudding
- Mix 3 tablespoons of chia seeds with coconut or almond milk, and one tablespoon of honey (optional), leave over-night to swell and enjoy topped with fruit or granola for breakfast.
- Mix chia seeds into your porridge or cereal for an extra nutrient hit.
- Add to, or sprinkle on top of smoothies.
- Add a few tablespoons of chia seeds to your favourite green juice, shake it up and enjoy.
Chia Seed Jam
- Mix 2 tablespoons of chia seeds into 1 cup of blended berries, store in a jar in the fridge. This Chia Jam is a great alternative to the sugar laden supermarket varieties.
- Mix it into yoghurt, serve on top of granola, or with home-made pancakes.
Chia seeds can be planted into a shallow container and left on the kitchen bench to sprout. Use the nutrient dense sprouts to garnish soups, salads and sandwiches.
Words on Wellness by Jessica Gilijam-Brown
New Zealand based Holistic Nutritionist (BSc) @wellnessbyjessica