It seems every week there’s a new super food which will completely revolutionise our diets and the food of the moment currently is the chia seed. This tiny little super food has become one of the most popular ways of adding a healthy boost to meals without drastically altering their taste. Rich in omega-3 fats and fibre they can be added to anything and are fast becoming the most popular super food consumed by thousands across the UK.
Chia seeds are originally from a flowering plant in the same family as mint that is native to Central American countries Mexico and Guatemala. There is even evidence to suggest they played a key role in the diets of the ancient Aztecs. Chia seeds have continued to be regularly eaten in their native countries throughout the centuries but it wasn’t until Dr Wayne Coates began his study of chia as an alternative crop for Argentinian farmers.
The seed has since become widely lauded and despite the fact that human trials are relatively limited anecdotal evidence suggests chia seeds offer many positive health benefits from boosting energy to stabilising blood sugar and lowering cholesterol. The seeds themselves are smaller than grains of rice and come in white or dark brown colours have a fascinating nutritional profile too. Each tiny seed contains manganese, phosphorus and calcium as well as providing omega-3 fats. They can be eaten whole or milled which gives them an added benefit over other seeds such as flax which only release their health benefits when ground.
Adding Chia Seeds
Once you’ve received your seeds and are dedicated to including them in your diet, the next step is to work out exactly how to do so. It actually couldn’t be simpler. Coates and other experts recommend adding chia seeds to everything. They have no taste and therefore won’t affect the flavour of your meals. They can be sprinkled onto toast, tossed atop salad or even milled and adding into smoothies. It’s completely your decision and whatever you do they’ll have the same positive effect.
Why do it?
Now let’s take a closer look at the actual benefits of adding chia seeds to your diet and therefore why you should ensure they become part of your daily eating habits.
We’ve previously spoken about how diet can help you dodge diabetes and there is evidence that suggests chia can make a difference too. Research is being conducted to see if chia could actually be a natural treatment for type-2 diabetes as it can actually slow down digestion.
A single 28g serving of chai seeds has a huge 11g of dietary fibre and that’s a whole third of your recommended dietary daily intake. Fibre intake across the board is quite low in British adults and therefore simply sprinkling chia seeds on your meals could help to guarantee you’re getting the right amount of fibre every day.
Strong Teeth and Bones
A single serving of chia seeds has 18% of your recommended daily intake of calcium. This puts you ahead of the game already for keeping your bones and teeth in check. It also helps stave off painful conditions including osteoporosis.
Chai seeds are highly valued for their protein levels due to the fact that they don’t have any cholesterol. This means that a single serving of chai seeds provides around 10% of your daily value of protein without all the cholesterol in other protein-heavy food products such as red meats.
Full of Phosphorus
Phosphorus is used by the body to help process protein to be used for the growth and repair of cells and tissue. Chia seeds contain 27% of the body’s recommended phosphorus in a single serving and this again helps with healthy bone and teeth maintenance.
Not many people understand or know anything at all about manganese. It’s very important for your health as it supports the use of other nutrients in the body including essential ones such as thiamine. One single serving of chia seeds gives you 30% of your recommended manganese intake and is it isn’t commonly found in many foods, it’s a great way of ensuring you’re getting enough.
Keep your Brain Healthy
As mentioned chia seeds are packed full of omega-3 fats with nearly 5g in a single serving and these fats are integral to keeping your brain healthy. Research also suggests that chia seeds convert omega-3 fats better than other so-called super foods such as the flax seed.
Battle the Flab
Chia seeds are also known for their stabilising qualities – keeping blood sugars stable and therefore fighting insulin resistance which can be a cause of increased belly fat. Insulin resistance can be detrimental to your overall health too so to avoid it, munch those chias.
Fill Up Fast
Chia seeds have been found to contain tryptophan, an amino acid which is commonly found in turkey. Tryptophan is known for regulating the appetite, sleep patterns and also improving mood. It also helps you control your appetite and feel fuller more quickly.
Chia seeds keep your heart happy in many ways. Chia seeds have been shown to improve blood pressure in diabetes and it has been suggested they increase healthy cholesterol too, whilst actually lowering total triglyceride cholesterol. All these combined make for a happy, healthy heart.
This is the first time a super food could be added to your diet without it having an adverse or even any effect on flavour. Chia seeds can be sprinkled on anything and your body will feel better for it.
by Emma Dillon
by Kath Webb
by Kath Webb
by Laura Briggs
by Jessica Ward