Chia seeds: How to include them in your diet
Chia seeds are often called a superfood or functional food. Superfoods offer benefits beyond their nutritional value, such as lowering cholesterol or improving gut health, reducing inflammation, or lowering risk factors for heart disease. They are also free of gluten. Chia seeds, an excellent source of antioxidants, are also added to less nutritious items like pastries, to improve appeal to health-conscious customers.
Here is what our expert says
- Chia seeds are one of the ancient grains which originated in Central America. It was a part of the daily diet of the Aztecs.
- It is densely packed with four main nutrients which are omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, proteins, and calcium.
- Unlike other plant proteins which are considered incomplete, protein in chia seeds is complete but with lower lysine amino acid.
Health quotient of chia seeds
Chia seeds are known to reduce appetite and weight, lower triglycerides, and improve blood sugar levels in type-2 diabetes. More than 80% of the carb content is in the form of fiber. They are the best known plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids and are loaded with quality protein. Although they provide high amounts of minerals, chia seeds are a poor source of vitamins.
Chia seeds are highly versatile
Chia gel is used as a thickener in smoothies, puddings, and soups. They can be stirred into salad dressings, sauces, or cake batter and sprinkled onto salads. They can be added to anything, as long as the food item has moisture. Commercially, they are found in crackers, beverages, and baked goods to boost their nutritional value.
For salads and puddings
Chia sprouts: In a terracotta saucer, spread chia seeds. Spray with water and cover them with a transparent glass dish. Place in the sun and spray twice a day until sprouts appear. Use them in salads. Chia pudding: Combine 1/4 cup seeds with one cup milk or fruit juice. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving chilled with nuts, chopped fruits, or cinnamon.
For smoothies and cakes
Chia gel: Place 1/4 cup seeds in one cup of water, mix, and cover to make chia gel. Allow it to settle for 15-20 minutes. Add to smoothies for a thicker consistency. Egg substitute: Combine one tablespoon chia seeds with three tablespoons of water to substitute one whole egg. Allow the mixture to thicken for five minutes. Use it instead of eggs during baking.
Word of caution
It is best to eat chia seeds that have been soaked in liquid or are served with moist food. Do not eat dry chia seeds by themselves. They quickly swell after absorbing liquid, therefore can expand in the esophagus and cause blockage. People, who have difficulty in swallowing or other digestive issues, should eat chia seeds with care.