They may be tiny and unassuming, but chia seeds pack a mighty punch. Just one tablespoon per day delivers three grams of omega-3 fatty acids, six grams of fibre and a cartload of essential vitamins, minerals and also antioxidants.
They’re also a perfect source of plant protein, containing all of the nine essential amino acids.
What type of food are they?
As well as being exceedingly good for you, chia seeds tick the following boxes:
* Sustainably farmed.
Where do they come from?
Chia seeds are harvested from a gorgeous flowering plant in the mint family called Salvia hispanica. Although native to Mexico and Guatemala (ancient Aztecs and Mayans once feasted on their goodness), we now grow some of the world’s finest chia right here in our own sunny backyard.
What are they good for?
The impressive cocktail of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, plant protein and healthy fats makes chia seeds a powerful, all-round good-health companion. They can help to:
* Improve digestive health (fibre keeps you regular, potentially lowering the risk of irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer)
* Regulate blood sugars (ideal for people who have Type 2 diabetes)
* Lower bad cholesterol and improve heart health
* Promote a feeling of fullness and aid weight loss
* Prevent free-radical damage, which in turn helps guard against illness, disease and premature ageing
What do they taste like?
Pretty much nothing at all! That’s a huge part of their appeal – you can do anything with them. They add a little crunch, kind of like poppy seeds, but if you’re not a fan of the texture, chia seeds are also available in ground form and as a cold-pressed oil.
How can I use them?
Add chia seeds to salads, soups, smoothies, stir-fries, stews, yoghurt, cereal and juices. Sprinkle them on peanut butter and jam or Vegemite toast, or even use chia gel as a substitute for egg in pancakes and almost any baked-goods recipe – great news for vegans and those with egg allergies.
Chia seeds absorb up to 16 times their weight in water, making them a fantastic low-kilojoule, filling food when added to a glass of water or juice and left to soak for about 15 minutes. The seeds become a bit gelatinous – almost like tapioca, but so much better!
Chia gel egg substitute
To replace 1 egg, simply mix 1 Tbsp whole or ground chia seeds with 3 Tbsp water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes or until the mixture turns jelly-like. Try it when making your next batch of banana bread or pancakes!
Black or white?
Mature chia seeds are either black or white; there’s no nutritional difference between the two so it’s a matter of personal choice. Why not mix ’em up?