Chia seeds, derived from the plant Salvia hispanica, have gained significant popularity in recent years as a superfood due to their impressive nutritional profile and various health benefits. These tiny seeds, native to Central and South America, have been consumed for centuries by the Aztecs and Mayans for their energy-boosting properties.
Nutritional profile of chia seeds
Chia seeds are an excellent source of fibre, protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients, making them a wonderful addition to your diet. However, it's essential to consume chia seeds in moderation, as they are calorie-dense, and excessive intake may lead to digestive issues. A recommended daily intake of chia seeds is about 1-2 tablespoons, as per Healthline.
This Healthline report also states that per one-ounce (28-gram) serving, chia seeds contain approximately
- Calories: 138
- Carbohydrates: 12 grams
- Dietary fibre: 10.6 grams
- Protein: 4.7 grams
- Total Fat: 8.6 grams (including Omega-3 fatty acids)
- Calcium: 177 milligrams
- Magnesium: 95 milligrams
- Phosphorus: 177 milligrams
- Potassium: 44.8 milligrams
- Zinc: 1.0 milligram
- Iron: 1.6 milligrams
- Vitamin C: 1 milligram
Health benefits of chia seeds
According to WebMD, here are the main health benefits of Chia Seeds:
- Rich in fibre: Chia seeds are an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fibre. The high fibre content aids in digestion promotes bowel regularity, and may help prevent constipation.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Chia seeds are one of the richest plant-based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain health, heart health, and reducing inflammation.
- Plant-Based Protein: Chia seeds contain a notable amount of protein, making them an excellent addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet to meet protein requirements.
- Antioxidants: Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants, such as flavonols and quercetin, which help protect the body from oxidative stress and free radicals.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: The high fibre content in chia seeds may aid in stabilising blood sugar levels, making them beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes.
- Weight Management: Due to their ability to absorb water and expand in the stomach, chia seeds can promote a feeling of fullness, potentially helping with weight management by reducing appetite.
- Bone Health: Chia seeds are a good source of essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which are vital for maintaining strong bones.
- Heart Health: The combination of Omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and antioxidants in chia seeds contributes to heart health by reducing cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of heart disease.
- Hydration: Chia seeds can absorb up to 10-12 times their weight in water, helping maintain hydration and electrolyte balance.
5 simple and delicious chia seed recipes to try
1. Chia seed overnight oats
Chia seed overnight oats are a delicious and nutritious breakfast option that can be prepared the night before for a quick and easy morning meal. Overnight oats are popular for their convenience and versatility, and adding chia seeds boosts their nutritional value.
2. Chia seed smoothie bowl
Chia seed smoothie bowls are a delicious and nutritious way to start your day. Smoothie bowls are thicker than regular smoothies and are typically served in a bowl with various toppings. Chia seeds add a nutritional boost to these bowls, providing extra fibre, protein, and healthy fats.
3. Chia seed energy balls
Chia seed energy balls are nutritious and delicious snacks that provide a quick boost of energy. They are easy to make, require no baking, and can be customised with various ingredients to suit your taste preferences.
4. Chia seed salad dressing
Chia seeds can be a fantastic addition to salad dressings, providing a healthy boost of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and other nutrients. They can also help thicken and add a unique texture to your dressings.
5. Chia seed fruit parfait
Chia seed fruit parfait is a delightful and healthy dessert or breakfast option that combines the goodness of chia seeds with layers of fresh fruits and yogurt. This colourful and nutritious parfait is not only visually appealing but also rich in fibre, protein, and essential nutrients.