­Chia seeds come from the salvia hispanica plant, which is a member of the mint family. It’s commonly sold under its common name “chia” as well as several trademarked names. Its origin is Central America where the seed were a staple in the ancient Aztec diet.
Chia seeds have recently gained attention as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid. They are also an excellent source of fiber at 10 grams per ounce (about 2 tablespoons), and contain protein and minerals including as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
Chia seeds are mostly eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes. I love to sprinkle whole chia seeds on my breakfast or ground up on my kids brekky, quinoa, yogurt or vegetables.
You can also soak your chia seeds in fresh pressed fruit juice or water. Chia seeds are very absorbent and develop a filling and gelatinous texture when soaked in water making it easy to mix them into cooked cereal or other dishes.
My personal tips are to serve on organic yogurt, in smoothies or juices, mixed into pasta sauce or soups (add in just before serving), sprinked on your sandwich or lunchtime salad and even add it to your deserts like mixed berries to kill a sugar/sweet tooth craving!
There is ground-breaking studies highlighting that chia seeds as part of a healthy diet may help improve cardiovascular risk factors such as lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
The amazing health benefits of Chia:
1. High levels of tryptophan, which is the amino acid precursor of serotonin (happy hormone) and melatonin (sleep/anti-cancer hormone).
2. It lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and high blood sugar (all 3 symptoms of a metabolic syndrome) after consuming a meal. If suffering a metabolic syndrome – chia seeds are a MUST HAVE in your diet.
3. It is simple to consume, you do not have to ground up like other seeds/grains (i.e. flax), it can be consumed whole (easily digested through our GI system) – too easy!
4. It improves our insulin sensitivity. By lowering insulin levels it helps lifestyle diseases (ie diabetes) and assists with the reduction of fat storage around your mid-section caused by excess insulin (and cortisol).
5. It stabilises blood sugar levels. The consumption of chia seeds slow the effect at which glucose enters the bloodstream, making it ideal for diabetics and for those wanting to prevent diabetes.
Along with a balanced diet, managing blood sugar is essential to a good behaviour, attention span and your child’s mood, helping the most hyperactive children calm down.
6. It’s packed full of fiber. It has far more fibre than wheat bran that won’t bloat your tummy leaving you uncomfortable later on. Best yet – it’s GLUTEN-FREE!
7. It’s full of healthy fats and high in Omega 3’s. It was recently reported to contain the highest omega-3 levels out of all natural foods – AMAZING!
They are the greatest plant source of a fatty acid called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).
8. Finally, chia seeds are a nutrient powerhouse. They contain calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorous, folic acid and more.