Chia seeds are the the talk of the world right now. We’ve heard about them, we’ve seen them popping up everywhere, we’ve read about every celebrity chia proponent and still, we’re not really sure what all the fuss is about. From New York to LA to London, chia is taking over our kitchen pantries, but what makes these tiny seeds so important to us?
Chia, which is the Mayan word for ‘strength’ is a member of the mint family. For thousands of years chia has been a staple crop in both Mayan and Aztec civilisation and rightly so. Chia seeds are chock-full of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids helping our bodies to combat daily aggressors while also providing us with tons of dietary benefits.
They're an ideal superfood for athletes, but a perfectly healthy choice for your every day girl-on-the-go. What's more, these nutritious seeds can be incorporated into any meal without changing it's flavour! Add them to soups, salads, yoghurts, cereals... anything. You name it.
Top celebrity nutritionist, Madeleine Shaw says: “Chia seeds have become the new blueberries. These incredible tiny seeds are totally gluten free, vegan friendly and are packed full of omega 3 fats, antioxidants and fibre."
But before giving our reasons to go cray for chia, here are a few quick-fire facts about the humble chia seed (and don’t say you’re not impressed). They contain...
• 5 times the amount of calcium that milk has.
• 3 times the amount of antioxidants that blueberries have.
• 3 times the amount of iron in spinach.
• 2 times the amount of fibre in porridge.
• 2 times the amount of protein of any other bean, seed or grain.
• 2 times the amount of potassium in a banana.
1. They help conquer your cravings.
Chia seeds are jam-packed with fibre making them a great choice for keeping full and curbing those nasty cravings. While they're easily digestible, they work to create a feeling of fullness keeping you satisfied for longer while also helping you maintain a healthy appetite. To really benefit from their all-round goodness, eat them at the start of your day.
For a belly filling smoothie or delicious addition to your cereal try Chia Bia’s new chia mixes with added antioxidants. There's also Chia Bia Bars available for time-pressed gals on the go (so there’s no excuse to skip).
2. They’re totally versatile.
The great thing about these power seeds is that their flavour is very mild. While some claim they have no taste, others reckon they have a slight nutty flavour. Whatever it is, they're tasty!
Madeleine says: "I love adding them into smoothies or in my raw desserts, I like them best in the morning, sprinkled over porridge or muesli – their slow carbohydrate to blood sugar conversion rate means they keep you fuller for longer, so you’ll last all the way through till lunch! You can sprinkle them over salads too to give a bit of crunch!"
Get sprinkling! Add a couple of tablespoons of chia to any snack or meal and start greatly enhancing the nutritional value of what you eat (without changing the taste). If you're not the breakfast type, invest in natural products like Chia Pods from The Chia Co.
3. They support hydration.
Chia seeds are a hydrophilic colloid so when they're exposed to liquid they form a gel like substance that forms the underlying elements of living cells. Because of this, the seeds absorb and retain 10-12 times their weight in water prolonging hydration. As a key provider for the utilisation of body fluids, “They have been found to support hydration and electrolyte balance which may be helpful for those who are busy and active and lose fluid through sweat,” says Lorna Driver-Davies, Nutritionist at NutriCentre.com. Start munching ladies!
4. You don’t have to rely on oily fish anymore.
It doesn't take much convincing to tell you how beneficial omegas are to our health. (You should already know, but we'll say it anyway.) Not only do omegas make our skin glow and our hair shiny, they’re also extremely supportive of our central nervous system, cell functions and all of our vital organs too. Lorna says: “Research has shown that chia seeds have more omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant making them an excellent alternative for fish haters."
Perfect for vegans and vegetarians.
5. They protect us from the damaging effects of the environment.
Protecting ourselves from environmental risks such as pollution, alcohol, cigarette smoke and UVA/UVB rays should be a priority for our health. Aggressors like these can cause DNA mutations, protein damage, skin damage and many other detrimental effects. Sounds a bit scary, right? It’s serious stuff.
For optimal protection consume chia daily. They’re powerful nutrients help destroy free radicals and help reduce the effects of oxidative stress. Chia seeds also have a longer shelf live than most other superfoods (such as flax seeds) meaning they’ll stay fresher for longer.
6. They’re a natural energy booster.
If you’re looking for something to perk you up for the day or in search for the perfect pre-workout snack then chia is your best option. With twice the potassium of banana and two times the amount of protein in any seed, grain or bean it’s a no-brainer among athletes today. Its 20% protein out beats all other foods making it a high quality superfood you just can’t say no to. Sound near-perfect? Almost, and we're not even done!
7. They keep your waistline trim.
Dubbed the “dieter’s dream food”, chia seeds are also a great way to maintain a slimming waist. The gummy fibres created with liquid are also formed when the seeds reach your stomach lining. With their hydrophilic colloid coating chia seeds are able to keep hunger pangs at bay, fight cravings and also help slow the digestive process meaning fewer carbs feed the fat cells around your waist. Hurrah.
8. They help build muscle.
With it's ample energy-boosting benefits, high fibre, perfect digestible protein for muscle, and tissue regeneration, chia is our number one fuel food for fast energy and quick muscle growth.
For an effective post-workout shake try Purition. The all-natural formula of freshly ground seeds and nuts makes it easily digestible and full of protein power to keep you going.
9. They help with joint pain relief.
Suffering from achy joints? Omega-3 fatty acids are touted for their anti-inflammatory properties and chia seeds are full of’em! Over time, daily use of chia will significantly reduce or even banish joint pain. Take it from the Aztecs warriors - they swore by it to relieve knee pains and injuries.
10. They’re cleansing.
The detoxing properties of chia works as a bowel regulator and cleans out your intestines all 100% naturally. Think of chia as a vacuum - while giving us rainbows of vitamins and minerals it also works by sucking up all the nasties and cleansing your digestive system.
Officially impressed? Officially obsessed? We are!
To get an easy effective dose of chia everyday try The Chia Co. Chia Oil or Chia Seeds. Note - Chia seeds come in black and white, but they both share the same nutritional value so take your fancy. (Personally, we'd go for white to avoid the embarrassing food-stuck-in-your-teeth moments - just saying!)
Are you sold by the superpowers of chia? Tweet us @sofeminineUK