Sustaining a healthy lifestyle is often a challenging feat. Since most convenience foods seem to typify the antithesis of health, extra effort is required to strategically map out nutritionally-rich preparations that fit within our busy lifestyles.
Seeking out nutritionally-dense ‘superfoods’ aids in simplifying the quest towards optimum health. It alleviates some of the strain involved in trying to consume considerable amounts of salubrious nourishment, often not readily available on-the-go.
One such ‘superfood’ is the Chia seed, which packs a punch so strong that it is virtually unmatched in its nutritional profile.
Chia (salvia hispanica L) is a tiny little seed that is packed full of goodness! It is a gluten free wholegrain, in fact, the only wholegrain that you can eat raw, exactly as it comes from the plant. It looks much like a poppy seed, and comes in black & white. Despite the colour variations, they are nutritionally very similar.
Chia seeds are a natural source of Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3 & 6), soluble and insoluble fibre, antioxidants, protein & essential minerals (calcium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper and potassium) as well as vitamins A, B & E.
Rarely for a vegetarian source of protein, the Chia seed is complete with all 8 essential amino acids. They are also a great source of antioxidants, assisting in the proper function of bodily organs and tissues and protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease through the removal of damaging free radicals.
Difficulty maintaining bowel regularity? Chia is known for its easy digestibility. Each seed is coated with soluble fibre, which aids in the gelling action, maintaining healthy digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
Absorbing more than seven times its weight when placed in water, Chia seeds form a gel that, when eaten, produces a physical barrier between carbohydrates and digestive enzymes in the stomach. This process effectively aids in the regulation of blood sugar levels.
The exterior of the seed is protected by insoluble fibre, which helps keep food moving smoothly through the digestive process.
How do I use Chia?
When including Chia seeds in your diet remember that EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids) are destroyed by heat. Many of the other health benefits will remain once heated but the EFA’s are gone. For the optimum health benefits of Chia - RAW is best.
Luckily, Chia seeds generally do not have a taste and when mixed with other foods , it does not change the flavour at all.
Chia seeds can be found at good quality health food shops.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate Chia seeds into your diet:
§ Mix in through yoghurt
§ Sprinkle it on salads
§ Stir it through juice
§ Add it to your cereal
§ Add it to a fruit salad
§ Put a tablespoon in a smoothie
§ Sprinkle it on top of the icing of a cake