An introduction to Chia Seeds
Small, dark and mild-tasting, chia seeds have definitely came to the forefront in recent years, becoming famous for their high content of fibre and protein and often used as a vegan-friendly alternative. However, even thousands of years ago chia seeds were placed on a pedestal back in their native country, South America. A part of the same plant family as mint, chia seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant and it’s believed that Mayans and Aztecs prized them for their energy-boosting properties.
Normally when someone refers to chia seeds, they’re talking about the small dark black chia seeds, but in actual fact there is another type of chia seed, white chia seeds. While white chia seeds look a lot like their black counterparts, they do not share some of the same nutritional values and white chia seeds do not function the same way as black chia seeds when it comes to forming the famous chia jelly prized by chia pudding enthusiasts.
Chia seeds are famous for their nutritional properties, with just 28g containing around 42% of your daily dietary fibre intake.1 They also contain ALA, an omega 3 fatty acid that can be converted into DHA, your body’s preferred type of omega 3, which can then be utilised for a wide variety of health purposes.
These small seeds also contain a decent amount of protein and calcium, making them a very satisfying option as a quick snack. They’re also rich in phosphorus, manganese and zinc, making chia seeds quite beneficial for your skin and cognitive function.
28g serving of chia seeds contains:
137 kcals, 4,4g of protein, 265mg of phosphorus, 177mg of calcium
Since chia seeds are so rich in antioxidants and omega fatty acids, they are thought to positively impact a number of different bodily functions. Your skin, for example, benefits from the antioxidants in chia seeds as antioxidants help to fight the free radical molecules responsible for premature ageing and inflammation.
You also have to consider that the antioxidant and omega intake in chia seeds can be very useful for your cardiovascular health too. The levels of linoleic acid in chia seeds helps with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D & E while also reducing inflammation and even lowering unhealthy LDL cholesterol and increasing healthy HDL cholesterol.2
The fibre content of chia seeds can also be helpful for the digestive system as well, helping to balance your blood sugar levels and preventing digestive problems like constipation. Also, since chia seeds absorb quite a lot of water and expand in your stomach they are thought to be good for satisfying hunger cravings and your appetite, keeping unnecessary snacking at a minimum!
Finally, it would be impossible to talk about the health benefits of chia seeds without elaborating on one of their biggest perks! The ancient Aztecs may have been on to something when they regularly included chia seeds in their diets for energy-boosting purposes. According to research, chia seeds can help to support your metabolism and even enhance your exercise performance, working as an alternative to the traditional sugary fare of most athletes, who turn to energy drinks to boost their performance!3
Chia seed recipes
Coffee Chia Puddings
Cinnamon & Chia Seed Energy Balls