Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia! Why You Should Be Putting Chia on Your Plate
The good news is that chia and chia seeds, might not be as unfamiliar to you as it is to others, but you might not be aware of this little seed’s significant health benefits, or the fact that it can add taste and flavour to a wide range of meals. Other seeds include flax seeds.
What Is Chia?
Chia seeds come from the chia plant, which is native to Mexico and other areas of Central America. These seeds have been consumed by indigenous peoples of these areas for millennia, and they pack a huge nutritional wallop. In fact, their very name comes from the Mayan word for strength. The plant is actually closely related to mint, although the seeds don’t have a minty flavour.
The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
While the Mayans and Aztecs might have known a lot about the health benefits of these tiny seeds, it’s taken the rest of the world a little while to realise just how important they can be, and how they can benefit a wide range of different health conditions. While there is actually very little evidence that the seeds can keep you feeling full or reduce your appetite, they can be highly beneficial in a number of other instances.
One of those is the way that chia can benefit diabetics and even help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in some patients. When eaten (or soaked in water), chia seeds create a gelatinous, viscous liquid. This coats the inside of the digestive tract, slowing down digestion and the absorption of sugars, which in turn helps to control blood glucose and insulin.
Another benefit here is that chia seeds can help improve bone and teeth health. A single serving of chia seeds actually contains almost 20% of the RDA of calcium, and when combined with other superfoods in your diet that help your body absorb more of the calcium you take in through your diet, can foster stronger bones and teeth.
Chia seeds also offer quite a bit of protein. Just a single serving (a little under a tablespoon) can give you almost 10% of your RDA of protein. It can also offer 27% of your daily intake of phosphorous, as well as 30% of your RDA of manganese.
The Nutritional Makeup of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are rightly called a superfood due to their serious nutritional components, including:
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B2
These little seeds are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as fibre. However, they do pack in some calories. A single serving contains 137 calories (although that number does include omega-3s). The fact that most of the carbohydrates contained by the seeds are in the form of fibre is also a benefit. There’s also the benefit that your body can actually digest these seeds, unlike flaxseeds.
Getting Chia Seeds on Your Plate
Most sources recommend two servings of chia seeds (about an ounce each) per day. You can add that to your plate in any number of ways. Many people like to sprinkle them over a salad, where they add a light, nutty flavour and some crunch. Others recommend using them in bread in place of other whole grains, and they can be turned into a spread, added to puddings, and used as toppings for everything from yoghurt to meat dishes.