What are Chia Seeds?

Enter the ‘superfood – chia seeds’ into a Google search and you’re sure to be bombarded with articles and mentions of these powerful little seeds and any medical concern you can think of. Chia seeds are high in protein, fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. It is the punch that we’re wanting in our balanced meals, so let’s break it down and get the chia seed facts!

History

Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) date back to the Aztecs of Mexico in 3500 B.C. being used in every angle of their diet due to the high nutritional profile, mainly supporting long travels they endured. The Mayans, a pre-Columbian civilization, were recorded to incorporate these powerful seeds in their diet as well as naming their land from the word Chiapan, meaning river of chia. These seeds with the mild, nutty flavour are still grown and eaten in South America, from Mexico all the way to Argentina. Now chia seeds are grown in Australia, which has become the foremost producer.

Nutritional Profile

In my presentation Superfoods for Health, I emphasize that combining these high-profile, nutrient dense foods into our daily diet can be good for us, but they shouldn’t be valued as a ‘silver bullet’ food. Chia seeds are rich in the essential omega -3 fatty acid linoleic acid (ALA). ALA can help decrease inflammation in the body. For a plant, they are high in calcium and iron. Although, studies are still preliminary, chia is high protein and fibre which should assist in satiety, helping us monitor the feeling of fullness after eating. As for chia being a ‘silver bullet’ food, discuss it with your dietitian and see how you can add it to your meal plan.

Chia Pets

Chia pets were extremely popular during the ’80s and ’90s. The terra-cotta animals are spread with chia seeds that over time sprout and create a green, grass-like carpet of fur. The company that began making the pets in just animal shapes, continues to release new shapes and products to this day. But did you know that the seeds used for chia pets are actually edible?

Sprinkle, Crush, Mix or Bake
Chia can be eaten raw as whole seeds. They can be purchased at most health food stores or at your local food market. With only 1-2 tablespoons per day needed to achieve the recommended omega-3 ALA amount, chia seeds can be used in a number of ways.

  • Try adding a teaspoon to your morning yogurt, porridge or to a fruit smoothie for that 3 pm snack attack.
  • Sprouted, chia can be added to salads and sandwiches, similar to alfalfa.
  • Chia flour can be purchased to add into muffins and cookies.
  • If you have an egg allergy or intolerance, it can be mixed with water to create a chia gel, replacing the egg in a recipe.

Experiment and Enjoy!