Chia seeds – health benefits from a Nutritionist

chaiRecently Ive been cooking (experimenting) with Chia seeds. They aren’t the easiest ingredient to find here in the UK or Europe due to being approved only in 2009 as a Novel Food. In the States, South America and Australia though, they are hugely popular. I buy mine from here.

What are Chia seeds?

They are magical tiny seeds, coming from the plant Salvia hispanica. Salvia in Latin means to ‘feel well and healthy’, or ‘to heal’. They are the latest superfood ingredient with good reason.

What are they used for?

They can be used in drinks or foods to increase nutritional value or as a thickener or natural healthy bulking agent. They are mucilaginous which means they will help to line the digestive tract and ease digestive pain from food not moving through it smoothly. They have a gelatin-like consistency when soaked in water or even thicker liquid or wet ingredients such as yoghurt. They expand to approximately 100times their size and eventually break apart into a gel. Fascinating and funny to watch!

What are the health benefits of Chia seeds?

Containing 35% fatty acids they are a great source of omega 3. Omega 3 is useful for heart health, inflammation, nerve and skin. They have high levels of the minerals Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorous and Zinc.

Some studies have been done on the benefits. One study showed a positive affect on blood sugar levels after eating. That could mean that Chia seeds, when eaten with a meal, can help reduce blood sugar spikes and possibly cravings. Another study showed a reduction of triglycerides and blood sugar levels. More study needs to be done but so far its all good stuff for the heart health, weight management and metabolic syndrome.

What can I do with Chia seeds?

You can add them to home made muesli, puddings, overnight oats or make jam with them. Yum!

Let me know of any tasty recipes you’ve made with Chia seeds.

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About the author

Emma Wight-Boycott MSc is a natural health advocate with a passion for simplifying the science. Emma works with postnatal mums, weekend runners and those with digestive issues to rediscover their health mojo!

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