by Dr Reetu

Chia seeds are a member of the mint family and were reportedly first used by the Aztecs. Although tiny, they are nutrient-rich and hailed as a superfood. When incorporated into a balanced diet, they are considered beneficial for health and well-being and a great way to assist in filling nutritional gaps, especially for people with restrictive diets such as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. Among other benefits, chia seeds can potentially assist with joint, heart and brain health, help with weight loss and provide longer-lasting energy.

Here are some things you may not know about these amazing little seeds:

  1. Chia seeds are a great source of soluble fibre.

    Soluble fibre helps with gut health and passing stool. Chia seeds have around 30% RDI of dietary fibre; this is higher than that of flaxseeds or sesame seeds.

  2. Chia seeds are a complete protein source.

    Chia seeds are a complete protein source, contain all nine essential amino acids. Protein is essential for muscle building and repair as well as providing sustained energy. Protein also helps you feel full for longer, curb your snack cravings and therefore assist with weight loss.

  3. Chia seeds are high in Omega-3s.

    Chia seeds are one of the richest plant-based sources of Omega-3s and are very high in the Omega-3 fatty acid ALA. Please note, however, that humans are not good at converting this into DHA, the most important Omega-3 fatty acid. In order to get the DHA for your heart and brain health, you still need to regularly either consume fatty fish, fish oil, or take a DHA supplement if you are vegan or vegetarian. Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any supplements.

  4. Chia seeds are high in calcium.

    Chia seeds are high in calcium, which is extremely important for bone health.

  5. Chia seeds are full of antioxidants.

    Antioxidants help keep our cells free from the production of free radicals that lead to inflammation and disease.

  6. Chia seeds contain important vitamins and minerals.

    Chia seeds contain important vitamins and minerals, including iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium, vitamin B1, B2 and B3.

  7. Chia seeds make a great egg substitute.

    Chia seeds in a 3:1 ratio of water to chia seeds make for a great egg substitute in vegan recipes.

  8. Chia seeds are best consumed once soaked and expanded in liquid first.

    Chia seeds quickly swell after absorbing liquid, so they are best consumed once soaked and expanded in liquid first. Soak the chia seeds in a 10:1 ratio of liquid (e.g. water/juice/almond milk) to chia seeds for at least half an hour to form a gel added to a smoothie, cereal or pudding or oatmeal easily, or eaten as is. Anyone with difficulty swallowing or other digestive issues should not eat chia seeds dry.

 References

Clemons, R, and Pivcone, L (2020). Chia seeds – superfood or fad? Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/nutrition/superfoods/articles/chia-seeds-superfood-or-fad

Zimmerman, R, (2014) Chia Seed Alert: Superfood, Yes, But They Landed One Man In The ER. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2014/10/24/chia-seed-alert-superfood-yes-but-they-landed-one-man-in-the-er

Gunnars, K ( 2018) 11 Proven Health Benefits of Chia Seeds. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds

The Nutrition Source – Chia Seeds. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/chia-seeds/

Santora Zimmerman, J, (2017) Health Benefits of Chia-Learn About Its History, Nutrient Composition, and Current Research Regarding Its Health Benefits, Today’s Dietitian, Vol. 19, No. 1, P. 44. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0117p44.shtml

Kulczyński,B, Kobus-Cisowska, J, Taczanowski,M, Kmiecik, D, and Gramza-Michałowska, A. The Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds—Current State of Knowledge. Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627181/