Chia: The Tiny Seed with Huge Nutritional Value!
Growing up, Saturday morning cartoons wouldn’t have been the same if they weren’t occasionally punctuated by the jingle for Chia Pets. While most of us have long-since said goodbye to leisurely Saturday mornings glued to the tube and probably haven’t mindlessly hummed “ch-ch-ch-chia” in at least a decade, we’re still being wowed by those tiny-yet-mighty chia seeds!
You may already be an avid chia user and well-aware of their high-fibre content (clocking in at a whopping 10.6 grams per ounce!). But along with fabulous fibre, chia seeds also have the distinction of being protein powerhouses (at 4.4 grams per ounce), and outstanding sources of omega-3s and other antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Chia seeds are an exceptionally easy way to get more of the good things your body needs as their versatility and mild, nutty flavor makes them a great addition to baked goods, soups and sauces, cereals and smoothies, desserts, and more!
If you’re new to chia, try aiming for a tablespoon or two a day to give your body time to adjust to the extra explosion of fibre.
5 reasons to include chia in your diet
1. Promote regularity!
Constipation can be a painfully common occurrence and chia can help prevent it. Serving as a stool regulator and gut prebiotic, chia seeds’ mucilaginous properties also help to cleanse, soothe, and lubricate the colon, and strengthen peristaltic actions (the waves that move food through your digestive tract).
2. Strong bones and teeth!
Chia’s got calcium, baby! And lots of it! At 177 milligrams per ounce (18 percent of your daily intake), chia seeds have five times more calcium than milk making them an ideal addition to our diets! Chia’s also a great source of manganese, a helper with bone maintenance, and zinc, which helps fight tartar build up and halitosis!
3. Heart healthy!
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a fantastic way to raise those HDL cholesterol levels (the good ones!) and prevent heart attacks and strokes. Plus, chia is excellent at fighting inflammation, taking some of that extra strain off of your blood vessels.
4. Blood sugar balancer!
The high-fibre content in chia helps to slow sugar absorption in the bloodstream, which means you’ll feel fuller longer and they can help keep blood sugar levels balanced to prevent diabetes and insulin resistance.
5. Perfect for pregnancy!
Chia is a great source of nutrients, antioxidants, and boosts energy levels—all of which are especially key if you’re busy growing a baby. Plus, chia is easy to keep down when you’re feeling a little green behind the gills!
Egg-ceptional egg substitute!
Just like flax eggs, chia seeds make a great vegan egg substitute in baking! To substitute one egg, simply mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 2.5 tablespoons of water and let sit for 5 minutes!
Like other seeds, chia benefits from soaking to make all those amazing nutrients more bioavailable! Try a quick 5-minute soak and watch those tiny seeds soften and expand into gelatinous balls, or let them sit overnight for a gloopy, glorious glob! You can also sprout chia seeds the same way you would any other small seed. Simply soak an unglazed terra cotta plate (or even a plant saucer), drain and evenly coat plate with chia seeds. Cover seeds with a clear glass pie plate or bowl large enough to completely protect the seeds and place in a sunny location. Using a mister, spray the seeds twice daily until sprouts appear. After about a week, they’ll be good to go!
Whether you like them soaked, sprouted, ground, or dry, chia seeds should always have a special place in your pantry. So sprinkle, fold, and whip to your heart’s content!