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Spotlight on Chia Seeds

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Along with gluten and wholefoods, another word currently basking in its 15 minutes of fame is superfoods. Superfoods basically describes all foods thought to be nutritionally dense and therefore containing exceptional health benefits. I say thought to be, because the medical science jury is still out on this one.

As with any new trend in the food industry, there are conflicting opinions about whether superfoods really do what their supporters claim – I suspect because of the radicals picketing about how blueberries and cacao can heal cancer, and other masticating miracles. I’ll explore this in more depth in another post, but my take on it is that I do believe superfoods have amazing nutrient content and are awesome for your health, and you do look and feel healthier and more energetic when you consume them.

As to whether they can contribute to healing serious illnesses, that is something I plan to do more research on. My father – the eternal pessimist, bless him –  taught me at a very young age not to believe everything I read. While I got my mother’s sometimes irrationally optimistic genes, I do tend to view things with an initially healthy dose of suspicion until I’ve done my own investigation – something that I credit for my generally balanced outlook on life, until an end of summer shoe sale or a bowl of slap chips with salt and vinegar appears on the horizon. Then balance – and good health – be damned!

Anyway, chia seeds! Why are they awesome? For such tiny little seeds, they certainly pack a powerful nutritional punch. Along with flaxseeds, they contain the highest natural plant source of omega 3 fatty acids. They are also very high in complete protein (ie containing all 8 amino acids) – approx. 4 grams in 2 tbsp of chia –and serve up a wallop of fibre. Add to that a high concentration of antioxidants, which – if you’ve been living under a rock – are good for fighting disease and staving off wrinkles, and an impressive list of vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, zinc and several B vitamins. They also have virtually no carbs, making them a dieter’s dream.

Chia is native to South America. Legend has it that the Aztecs and Mayans used it to fuel their messengers for long distance running before sending them scampering off into the yonder mountains with news. Madder legend has it that one tablespoon of chia can sustain a man for an entire day, but being the regular meal lover that I am, I am not volunteering to check the validity of this statement.

The best way to eat chia seeds is by soaking them in water for an hour before using (or overnight if you want to add them to your morning smoothie). The seeds absorb up to 9 times their weight in water and form a gelatinous coating with a pudding like consistency. Soaked seeds are more easily digested by our bodies, meaning we can absorb the maximum amount of nutrients. A quick, tasty way to enjoy chia is to soak them in almond or oat milk for an hour, then add a teaspoon of cacaco powder and a tsp of honey. Quick and easy chocolate chia pudding – your body can thank you later!

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