chia seeds

Chia Seeds

Chia means “strength” in the ancient Myan Language

Chia seeds are the small edible seeds that come from the Salvia hispanica plant native to Central America.   It is said that ancient Aztecs and Mayans used the seeds as a source of energy and often carried them with them, to snack on.  

As the seeds pass through the digestive system slowly, they release the energy we require gradually, keeping blood sugar levels stable and our energy levels constant.

In more recent times Chia seeds have become incredibly popular due to the abundance of nutritional qualities these little seeds possess. 

What are the health benefits of chia seeds?

High in protein content compared to other plant based foods

Chia seeds contain around 14% protein making them a great source for those who do not eat meat.  They are classed as a ‘complete’ protein, which means they contain all nine of the essential amino acids.  These are the amino acids which cannot be produced by our bodies and therefore must be obtained directly from our food.  

Vegetarians and vegans often struggle to incorporate enough protein into their diet, so to have a complete source of protein which is so easy to add to literally any dish is a big benefit.

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High in both manganese content and magnesium

Chia seeds contain (per 15g serving) just under 15% of the RDI of both magnesium and manganese. Manganese is an essential nutrient which is abundant in both seeds and grains. 

Magnesium performs multiple functions within the body making it extremely important that we incorporate enough of this into our diet.

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Great source of daily fibre

Chia seeds contain (per 15g serving) 20% of the RDI of fibre which makes them a great option to keep you fuller for longer. In fact about 90% of the carbohydrates in chia seeds are fibre, great for the health of your intestines and touted as one of the best sources of fibre available.

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Small things can have a big impact

Chia seeds, considering their size have an abundance of nutritional benefits in the shape of their mineral content. 

They do not possess a great deal of vitamins in their make up, however they do contain a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of ALA (alpha-linolelic acid) which is found mainly in plants whereas Omega-3 acids in the form of DHA and EPA are mostly found in fish and seafood.

As a result Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 for  vegetarians and vegans.  It is important for people who follow these diets to get enough of this in their diet.  

Although chia seeds are high in ALA the conversion from this in our bodies to EPA and DHA is relatively low.  As such vegans and vegetarians are also encouraged to top up on their intake of omega-3 through a supplement of Algae Oil.

Where can I get chia seeds and what can I use them for?

In the past Chia seeds would be quite hard to come by, but nowadays you will be able to find them in most supermarkets. 

They are highly versatile and can be used in desserts, breakfasts and salads. At Thyme To Feel Alive we encourage the introduction of these little power-houses into your diet and we will be introducing several recipes with Chia seeds incorporated into them over the next few weeks, starting with our Apricot Chia Pudding which you can find here.

So keep an eye out for some great ideas that will have your taste buds salivating and then start adding this superfood into your weekly diet.

Top tips

It is advisable to soak chia seeds in liquid prior to consuming as they do expand when they come into contact with liquid.  

As such, people with issues swallowing should exercise care when consuming this product and would be advised to make sure the ingredient is soaked in water or the smoothie that they are being added to before drinking.  

Otherwise a sprinkling of seeds on your salad or meal would be fine.  

Chia seeds can be used to make vegan ‘eggs’ for baking.  Add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to 3 tablespoons of water and leave for 5 minutes to set into a gel. Then simply use in your recipe as you would an egg.