Friday, November 12, 2010

Miracle Food of the Moment: Chia Seeds

You may have seen them sold as 'salba', but now chia seeds are virtually everywhere and claim to be the miracle food we've been missing. So why should you pay attention to these tiny black and white seeds? There are a number of reasons - in fact I bet you'll go out and buy some after you read this!

I'm not sure if you ever had a chia pet back in the 90s (wow, so fun!) - I personally missed the boat on that one - but funny enough, these are the exact same seeds. Instead of sprouting them, you just eat the seeds whole or cracked. They might be tiny (smaller than a sesame seed), but they pack an even bigger and badder punch than flax seeds when it comes to their omega-3 content, plus they're very high in fibre, low in calories and extremely versatile. Chia seeds are perfect and acceptable for the prevention and management of diabetes, dyslipidemia or hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) and heart disease.

Just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains only 50 calories, but 2.3 g of Omega 3 essential fatty acids, 2 g of easily digestible and high quality protein containing all essential amino acids, 5 g of highly soluble Fibre, 70 mg of Calcium and has an ORAC (antioxidant) Value of 960! The seeds are also a good source of phosphorus, and a very good source manganese as well as being very low in sodium and cholesterol. Thanks to this particularly impressive nutrient profile, chia seeds can help reduce food cravings, improve your glycemic response and enhance regularity. In addition, studies have shown that chia seeds can improve systolic blood pressure and reduce other risk factors for cardiovascular disease in people with Type 2 diabetes. In other words, the proof is in the pudding.

Speaking of pudding, the seeds can be sprinkled on foods, used as an ingredient in baked goods, mixed into a glass of water or - if you're feeling particularly ambitious - just eat it from a spoon! So how many of you are about to go buy some chia seeds? I've already got mine!


Unknown said...

Do chia seeds have to be ground to be effective? I know that's the case for flax seeds - that they have to be ground in order for us to digest them correctly. Is it the same for chia seeds or can they be eaten whole?

healthnut said...

Great question - You're on the right track. When you grind up chia seeds, they can absorb much more water than when they are whole, so you get a lot more soluble fibre out of them that way. Try putting 1 tbsp ground chia seeds in a glass, then add about 1/2 a cup of water to them and stir. In no time, you'll have a gelatinous 'drink' reminiscent of metamucil. That doesn't happen when they are whole.