What Are Chia Seeds?
Due to their South American origins, the original Spanish name for Chia seeds is “Salvia hispanica”. The seeds were initially grown by the Aztecs in Mexico and various parts of South America. Chia seeds grow into plants which are part of the mint family; but as we’ll discuss, it’s the seeds that have all of the nutritional benefits. It is thought that chia seeds played a major role in the Aztecs’ diets, and the resurgence of their popularity started in the 1980’s. In the last few years, demand for chia seeds has skyrocketed, firstly in the US and now in the UK and Europe.
Why Should You Eat Them?
Here are some of the awesome benefits of eating chia seeds:
An excellent source of Omega-3. Benefits of Omega-3 include reducing plaque in the arteries and improving the health of bones, joints and skin. When you think of Omega-3 rich foods, you probably think of foods like salmon. Chia seeds actually contain more Omega-3 than salmon!
An excellent source of protein. Unlike many sources of protein, chia seeds are actually cholesterol free. Protein is an essential part of the diet, and is used to repair and build new tissues. The seeds are made up of over 20% protein.
Fibre can be found in natural, plant-based foods, such as oats and root vegetables. Chia seeds contain over 40% carbohydrates, almost all of which is fibre. Many people do not get enough fibre in their diets. Eating fibre-rich foods such as chia seeds can improve your digestive health and reduce your risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Weight Loss. A diet that is rich in Omega-3, Protein and Fibre can help you to reduce your weight. When combined with regular exercise, consuming sufficient amounts of protein can promote lean muscle gain. Fibre-rich foods help to keep you feeling full for prolonged periods of time, which can reduce your overall calorie consumption.
How Can They Be Used In Cooking?
There are many different ways in which chia seeds can be incorporated into your diet, here are a few to get you started:
Mixed in to bread and other types of baked foods (prior to baking).
Mixed in to a salad or a couscous.
To “breadcrumb” fish or meat before cooking.
As a natural thickening agent for gravies.
There are many other uses, including making drinks or gels.
These natural, versatile seeds contain many different health benefits and can easily be incorporated into your diet. What we love about chia seeds is that there are so many different ways to eat them, and you can find lots of recipes online. Combined with regular exercise, healthy foods such as chia seeds can help you to reach your fitness and weight loss goals in the shortest possible time.