Food Focus: Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
The chia seed is a true superfood
Chia is the richest plant based source of Omega 3 fats, protein, dietary fibre and antioxidants. It contains three times more iron than spinach; five times more calcium than milk; twice the potassium content of a banana and seven times more vitamin C than oranges. Unlike other sources of this Essential Fatty Acid (eg. Flax or fish oil), it is in a highly stable form due to its powerful naturally occurring antioxidants.
The plant originates from the central Americas. It is heat loving and can grow in virtually desert conditions, which means it grows well in parts of Australia. It’s available in two colours but with little nutritional difference between them.
The high fibre content of chia seeds, along with plenty of water, helps move food through the digestive tract and keeps your colon hydrated. People who eat chia on a daily basis typically report easier and more frequent bowel movements. Chia has both soluble fibre (which forms the outer gel), and insoluble fiber. Both types of fibre are healthy for the digestive system. The insoluble fibre helps cleans the intestinal tract. The soluble fibre can act as a prebiotic and help feed the good bacteria in your digestive system.
How to use chia seeds
Sprinkle these seeds on salads, cereals, smoothies, stir-frys, in bread, muffins and soups. They are so adaptable due to their small size and neutral taste. Including chia in the diet has a positive impact on blood sugar control due to the fibre content and helps lower cholesterol. It also helps with a sustained release of energy throughout the day, aids intestinal health, including regular bowel function and reduced risk of colon cancer. Because the fibre is bulking and therefore filling, it can give you a full feeling and help with weight loss.
So what are you waiting for? If you haven’t tried chia yet or you’ve got some sitting in your cupboard but don’t use them, get them out and add a tablespoon to your meals on a regular basis. Or try this great Chocolate Chia Pudding.