Chia seeds have recently gained popularity due to their high omega-3 fatty acid content. But these teeny-tiny seeds can do much more than just provide you with a healthy dose of fatty acids. They’re also a fantastic source of protein, fiber, disease-fighting antioxidants, and other important nutrients. You’ve probably already heard quite a bit about the benefits of chia seeds but don’t know how to incorporate them into your diet. Luckily, their mild nutty flavor makes them a great addition to almost any type of meal. To get you started with making chia seeds a part of your daily meals, here are a couple of chia facts and chia seed meal ideas.
About chia seeds
Chia seeds come from the Salvia Hispanic L. plant which is categorized under the mint family. The seeds are considered a traditional food in central and southern America and were consumed by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. The seeds are almost as small in size as poppy seeds and ripe chia seeds are black and white in color. A unique property of chia seeds is that they form a gel-like coating when soaked in water and can hold 10 to 27 times their weight in water. They’re mostly appreciated for their high oil content. The seeds contain up to 40% oil out of which at least 60% is omega-3 fatty acid, and 20% is omega-6 fatty acid. In addition to this, chia seeds contain up to 25% of protein and up to 30% of dietary fiber. The health benefits they provide are plenty so if you’ve wondered how to protect your heart or how to improve memory – then chia is the way to go.
How to eat chia seeds
Chia seeds were traditionally pressed into oil or ground into flour. However, they can be eaten raw in their natural state or soaked in liquids. You can make your pudding by soaking the seeds in milk, yogurt, or juice. You can add sweeteners and spices to your chia pudding as these seeds have a fairly neutral flavor. Some like to sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds over their smoothies, Greek yogurt, salads, and oatmeal. You can also include them into loaf recipes, cakes, and in bread crumbs for fried meals – the options are endless. Whether you eat the seeds ground or whole doesn’t matter because they’re easily digestible and the digestive tract easily absorbs the many nutrients in chia seeds. They’re also easy to store and can last for months.
The health benefits of chia seeds
Chia seeds are labeled as the superfood of the moment and for good reasons also. Chia seeds contain more omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds, and they also contain all 9 essential amino acids. Studies show that Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids. This imbalance is believed to be partially responsible for the rise in chronic diseases we see today. Chia seeds are one of the rare foods that contain a healthy omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. This property of chia seeds has the potential to protect against heart disease. One study published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism even found that rats given chia seeds had lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol measurements. Vegans and vegetarians also appreciate the amino acid content in chia seeds.
Chia seeds necessary precautions
Do not swallow a spoonful of chia seeds on their own. Although this is probably not dangerous for most people, Rebecca Rawl, from Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. warns that people with swallowing problems may obstruct their food pipe by doing this. If some of the seeds get stuck in the gullet, they may expand there and removing them can pose a problem. This type of scenario has happened to a 39-year-old man with a history of asthma and allergy problems. The case was reported at the American College of Gastroenterology’s annual meeting in Philadelphia in 2014. Other than that, chia seeds are labeled as safe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as they don’t contain any toxins and heavy metal analyses also deem them to be safe. Chia seeds are also gluten-free and are vegan.
As more and more people are becoming aware of the importance food plays in our health, we will probably be witnessing a rise in popularity of superfoods such as chia seeds. The most popular feature of the chia seed is their healthy omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids ratio. But these seeds are packed with other nutrients as well. Including them into your meals is fairly easy. All you have to do is sprinkle them onto your meals or add a spoonful to your favorite beverage. If you’re feeling particularly creative, you can add them to your dishes and desserts and make them a permanent part of your daily meals.
Sophie Addison is an enthusiast blogger and writer. She is very passionate about writing general health and fitness. She has posted articles on skincare problems, joint pain treatment, weight loss and woman’s health. Apart from work she likes gardening and listening to music. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.