What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds may be tiny, but they are packed with nutrients which benefit mind and body.
The small seeds, which can be white or a dark brown/black color, come from the flowering plant Salvia Hispanica, which is in the mint family. The plant is native to Mexico and Guatemala, and evidence suggests that Aztecs and Mayans valued the seeds as a food crop which provided sustainable energy and strength.
Chia seeds can be eaten whole or milled, and with their mild taste, they are easy to incorporate into a variety of recipes, from crunchy snacks like granola to sweet beverages and even desserts like puddings, as seen in the recipe below.
Despite their long history as a staple crop, only in the past few years have chia seeds become hailed as a superfood, rapidly increasing in popularity and finding their way into stores and pantries around the world.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have an extensive nutritional profile, notably providing an excellent source of manganese, phosphorus, calcium and omega-3 fats. In addition, eating chia seeds can give these added benefits:
Fiber – Just one ounce of chia seeds contains 1/3 of the recommended daily intake of fiber, about 11 grams. Fiber is integral to the health of the digestive system. Chia seeds are 40% fiber, by weight, making them one of the best sources of fiber in the world.
Protein – Chia seeds are relatively high in protein compared to other plants, with one 28-gram serving containing 4.4 grams of protein, or 10% of the daily value. This also makes them a great source for vegetarians, and anyone else, to meet their daily protein needs.
Heart Health – As shown by the Cleveland Clinic, chia seeds improve blood pressure in diabetics, and can also increase healthy cholesterol while lowering total, LDL, and triglycerides.
Bones and Teeth – One serving of chia seeds contains 18 per cent of the recommended daily intake of calcium, helping you maintain bone and oral health, and preventing osteoporosis.
Diabetes – Chia is being researched as a potential natural treatment for type-2 diabetes because of its unique ability to slow down digestion. The gelatinous coating which chia seeds develop when exposed to liquids can also help prevent spikes in blood sugar.
Pomegranate Almond Chia Seed Pudding Recipe
Makes 1-2 servings
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup chia seeds
honey or sweetener of your choice, to taste
a few drops of vanilla extract
pomegranate seeds and soaked, slivered raw almonds for garnish
Stir together almond milk and chia seeds. Keep in a covered container in the refrigerator overnight. Soak almonds in water overnight in a separate container [note: raw almonds should always be soaked and peeled before consuming]. The next day, peel and sliver the almonds. To the pudding, stir in vanilla and sweetener. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and almonds.