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These tiny seeds pack a real nutritional punch
Chia seeds have become a household name in recent years and for good reason! You probably know these little guys are good for your health, but that’s about as far as your chia encyclopedia goes. FIT are shining the superfood spotlight on them so you can get your facts straight when it comes to this wonder seed. If you’re not already a dedicated chia fan, we can guarantee you’ll want to incorporate them into your diet after reading this.
Chia seeds are an ancient superfood that played an important role in the diets of the Aztec and Mayan civilisations. It is believed they consumed chia to support times of high physical exertion, such as running between tribes and hunting expeditions. The seeds grow natively in South America on the Salvia Hispanica plant, which is a relative to mint. That these seeds have long been prized for being a sustainable energy source is evident in the name “chia”, which means “strength” in Mayan.
So what exactly makes chia seeds an ancient and modern day “superfood”? It comes down to the fact that they are a nutritional pocket-rocket, providing highly concentrated nutritional benefits in a small and low calorie serving.
Chia seeds are a plant-based source of complete protein, meaning they provide all 8 of the essential amino acids in one go. Additionally, chia provides antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and are a rich source of omega-3 vs omega-6 fatty acids. In fact, by weight, chia seeds contain more omega 3 vs omega 6 fats than salmon, and higher levels of calcium than full cream milk. Celebrity nutritionist and best selling author of The Beauty Detox Solution Kimberly Snyder is a huge fan of chia’s benefits; “Because they are so nutrient-dense and filling, chia seeds can help reduce cravings and keep you on track with your diet. I eat them daily,” she says.
Almost all the carbohydrate content of chia seeds is made up on fibre, which the body doesn’t digest, therefore chia seeds are very low glycemic and are good for blood sugar regulation. Chia seeds contain a high level of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which both play an important role in overall digestive health. Due to the high-fibre content, chia seeds can swell up to 15 times their size when mixed with liquids, creating a filling, nutritious and slow energy release gel substance.
“I’ve experienced that its ability to keep you full and provide optimal energy has helped my clients ward off sugar and other cravings, especially later in the day when they are stalling to workout and want to eat a treat instead!” explains Kimberly.
The easiest way to incorporate chia seeds into your diet are by adding them into your smoothies. Blending them up also makes the nutrients inside easier for your body to absorb. Try adding 1 tablespoon into your next smoothie or check in to the FIT smoothie bar and try one of our delicious chia-containing blends, such as our 'Fuel' and 'Replace' smoothies.
Chia puddings are another quick and easy way to get your dose of chia seeds, and they make a delicious and nourishing breakfast, snack or dessert. You can grab your chia stash in store at FIT where we stock Honest to Goodness Organic Black Chia Seeds and get creating. As a general rule of thumb, mix a ratio of ¼ cup chia seeds to 1 cup liquid, such as coconut water or a non-dairy milk, and leave in the fridge to set for a few hours or overnight. You can also add in your superfoods and supplements, such as cacao or acai powder (both available in store). Top with fruit, yoghurt and/or a healthy granola for a delicious meal.
Other ways to incorporate chia seeds include by blending them into homemade dressings, sprinkled onto salads, in healthy pancakes and other baked goods, and in bliss balls.
Hot FIT tip: For a vegan egg substitute in cooking, stir 1 tablespoon of chia seeds into 3 tablespoons of water and stir vigorously for a few minutes until a gel “egg-like” consistency forms. Use it just as you would use an egg – easy!