If you are not familiar with Chia seeds, you are missing out on a very valuable source of nutrition. Even if you are not eating a vegan diet, they make a very healthy addition to any eating plan.
Despite their small size, chia seeds are full of important nutrients. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, and they provide fiber, iron, and calcium . Omega-3 fatty acids help raise HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol that protects against heart attack and stroke.
They are also higher in protein than most plant foods making them an excellent choice to include in the vegan or vegetarian diet.
If you are not vegan, check out this blog to find out more about why plant based living is worth considering
Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contains:
- Fiber: 11 grams.
- Protein: 4 grams.
- Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are omega-3s).
- Calcium: 18% of the RDI.
- Manganese: 30% of the RDI.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDI.
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDI.
- They also contain zinc, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2.
This makes them one of the world’s best sources of a number of important nutrients, calorie for calorie.
Sixty percent of the oil in chia seeds is from omega-3 fatty acids and they have a high antioxidant content. Antioxidants fight the production of free radicals, which can damage cell molecules and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer
These antioxidants also protect the sensitive fats in the seeds from going rancid. Chia seeds last longer than other nutritious seeds, such as sunflower and flax. This is because the antioxidants prevent spoilage. In fact you can happily store chia seeds for several years in your pantry, although like anything, the seeds will be less nutritious over time.
Chia seeds are high in quality protein, which makes them a healthy addition to the diet, especially for people who eat little or no animal products.
A high protein intake lowers appetite and the desire for night time snacking. Although not proven, Chia seeds may help in weight loss due to the appetite suppressant properties.
Chia seeds do not act alone to improve and maintain human health, but may contribute to disease prevention when incorporated as part of a varied plant based diet along with other healthy lifestyle behaviors.
How can you use chia seeds?
Chia seeds have little if any distinctive flavor, so they don’t compete with other flavors in a dish. They also soften in the presence of liquid and become a less detectable texture. Commercially, they are added to cereals, crackers, beverages, breads, and other baked goods to boost their nutritional value. So chia seeds can be added to any dish as long as there is moisture to hold the seed in place.
- Chia seeds are incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet.
- The seeds themselves taste rather bland, so you can add them to pretty much anything.
- They also don’t need to be ground like flax seeds, which makes them much easier to prepare.
- They can be eaten raw, (as long as they are added to food with some moisture -don’t eat chia seeds dry as they will swell up and in vulnerable people could caused choking), soaked in juice, added to porridge, pudding, smoothies or added to baked goods.
- You can also sprinkle them on top of cereal, yogurt, vegetables or rice dishes.
- Because of their ability to absorb both water and fat, they can be used to thicken sauces and as egg substitutes in recipes.
- They can also be mixed with water and turned into a gel.
- Adding chia seeds to recipes will dramatically boost their nutritional value.
Simple Chia Pudding
A chia pudding is simple to make and you can add different ingredients to flavour it and to give it variety depending on your mood or what time of day it is. I often make a chia pudding as a breakfast. It takes a couple of minutes to make and then goes in the fridge overnight. This is so easy and a tasty breakfast is waiting for you in the morning!
How to make:
- 3-4 tablespoon of chia seeds – use 4 for a thicker pudding
- 1 cup of either almond, cashew or coconut milk
- Combine the seeds with the milk in a mason jar or other container
- leave to stand for 5 minutes and then stir to ensure all the seeds are combined with the milk. This will break up any clumps so the pudding will absorb the milk evenly without lumps.
- Cover and store in the fridge overnight or until the pudding is set
- Add fruit such as berries, maple syrup, vanilla and spices such as cinnamon.
- If you dont like the texture, you can always blend the mixture after it sets