Chia Seeds fact sheet
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are tiny black or white seeds that have a neutral taste and are rich in Omega 3’s. When soaked in water Chia seeds become a glutinous jelly like substance and can be used as a binding agent in cooking. The seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant which is a member of the mint /sage family. In recent studies, Chia seeds have proven to be an excellence source of Omega 3’s, fibre, essential minerals and slow release energy.
Where do Chia Seeds originate from?
Chia Seeds originate from Central and South America. They are believed to have been an Aztec superfood that provided Aztec warriors with great endurance and strength. It appears that there is some substance to this claim as studies have shown chia seeds are an ideal endurance athlete supplement. This primarily because it is rich in essential nutrients, fibre and omega 3’s that can be easily absorbed into the body.
What types of Chia Seeds are there?
There are two types of chia seeds that are all fairly similar in taste and texture. They differ only in the colour of the shells and moderately in their nutritional value. Black chia seeds are slightly higher in fibre content and contain anthocyanins due to their darker colour. Anthocyanins are found in many dark pigmented fruits and vegetables and are reported to aid in boosting immunity and fighting free radicals. White chia seeds are slightly higher in protein content.
Why are Chia Seeds so healthy?
Chia seeds may be tiny and tasteless, but they are packed full of nutrition. They are the only source of Omega 3’s that come close to rivalling flax seed. The bonus, however, is unlike flax seed that needs to be ground or activated to access the nutrients, the omega 3’s in chia seeds can be absorbed without any processing. Chia seeds are also a rich source of calcium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc and dietary fibre. Chia seeds are almost 53% fats, 11% protein and only 36% carbohydrates.
What foods can Chi Seeds be used as a substitute for?
Chia seeds are free of some of the common allergens such as gluten, lactose and nuts. Chia seeds are often used as an egg substitute in baking. 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds can be added to 3 tablespoons of water to make up the volume of 1 egg. Because of their high Omega 3 content, Chia seeds can be eaten instead of fish and are therefore ideal for vegans.
How to prepare Chia seeds
Chia seeds can be eaten raw and added to foods as a sprinkle, thickener or filler. Chia seeds can be soaked in almond or coconut milk and eaten as a breakfast cereal. They can also be added to smoothies or to freshly pressed juice to boost the nutrient content. Chia seeds absorb liquid easily and become jelly like when hydrated. They are a good binding agent for baking and provide a good texture for muffins, cakes, breads and biscuits. Toasted Chia seeds can also be used as a crumb crust instead or breadcrumbs.
How to store Chia seeds
Even once ground, chia seeds have a very long shelf life (1-2 years) as long as they are kept moisture free. Chia seeds also retain their nutritional value and do not go rancid. Store the seeds in a dry glass jar with a lid that seals well. Store chia seeds out of direct sunlight, in a cupboard that is cool.
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