Your Guide to Chia Seeds

There are so many super foods on the market these days it’s no wonder so many of us are confused about nutrition. Some people say this one is essential and others will say the same food has no proven healing qualities at all. So what’s the deal with chia seeds? 
 

A few years ago a journalist asked me what I thought of Chia. I didn’t know very much about them about these mysterious little seeds at that stage and I was a bit over hearing about ‘super foods’. ALL foods are super I thought to myself. Sure, some more than others and doesn’t that have to do with the level of anti oxidants and omega oils a food contains? Why else would it be considered super if it didn’t kill free radicals (the bad guys) and reduce inflammation in our body.

So I started on my mission to find out why Chia Seeds were the ‘IT’ food. Now I'm a daily user!

Firstly, I love being able to answer that inevitable question one gets asked when people discover you don’t eat dairy – ‘but where are you getting your calcium from?’ From ‘chia seeds’, amongst other things.

Calcium. The average 16-54 yo woman’s RDI of calcium is 800mg. Chia seeds contain 500mg of calcium per 100g. (1 tablespoon = 20g). To compare, almonds contain 233mg whereas quinoa has 141 mg and cows milk 119mg.

Omega 3 Oils. Where are you getting this essential nutrient if you’re not eating 3 serves of oily fish a week? Chia seeds are also the highest plant source of omega 3 fatty acids. They convert their ALA’s (alpha-linoleic acid) to EPA and DHA (omega 3) in the body. (Other plant foods that do this are hemp, seaweed, walnuts and flax seeds.) Fish oil needs no conversion so is already a good source of omega 3 but we need to consider the sustainability of the seafood we buy (and order), and in times like these when our oceans have been depleted by over fishing thanks to poor fishing practices we need to look at alternative sources.

Protein These tiny seeds are also a good source of protein, so as you cut down more and more on your intake of meat add plant sources of protein like chia seeds to your diet. These health- giving little seeds are also a great source of antioxidants and fibre. They are either black or white and both have a pretty similar nutritional profile, although the white ones have a little more omega 3 fatty acids and the black a bit more protein and antioxidants.  You can buy the two mixed together. Isn’t that convenient?

How to include in your diet. The easiest way is to sprinkle 1 teaspoon onto your morning cereal, muesli or porridge, or add them to your smoothies. Sprinkle them on yoghurt for your morning or afternoon snack or dessert. Top with a little fruit, flax oil and walnuts for a powerhouse of omega 3’s, protein, calcium and antioxidants. Add them to your muffin mix, muesli slice or Bliss Balls, and for babies add it to their mashed veggies, fruit or cereal. You can also add it to risotto, curry, casseroles and soups. Heating doesn’t bother its nutrients too much.

If you have a low fibre diet or have any gut problems like IBS, Chrone’s Disease or just general bloating and discomfort, start on a low dose, perhaps 1 tsp every 3-4 days. If you’re feeling good then increase the amount to 1 tablespoon every 1-2 days.

So, yep, go ahead start including Chia into your diet. Yes it’s possible to have a balanced diet without eating animal products. Just look to our plant kingdom.

For more recipes using Chia Seeds, and more info on these little beauties - head to my website and use the 'search my site' button - www.janellapurcell.com

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