Chia seeds are fast becoming one of the most popular and beloved superfoods out there, but where did they come from and what are the actual benefits?
Well, firstly they are mainly grown in South America so historically Chia Seeds were used as a valuable food source by Mexicans who prized them for their health and medical benefits. Aztec warriors even used them as a sustainable energy source, hence the name Chia being derived from the Mayan word for strength.
It’s a wonder we didn’t hear about them sooner, but thankfully they made it to our shores and exploded as one of the most sought-after superfoods to date. This is primarily due to the fantastic calorie to calorie nutritional value.
The Science behind Chia Seeds
So let’s look at the health benefits and start with how they can help our skin. Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants which protect us from free radicals and, therefore, help keep our lovely skin smooth and wrinkle free. Recent research has shown that Chia seeds can help stop up to 70% of free radical activity which is great news for skin of all ages.
Chia seeds are also great for digestive health. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics each ounce of Chia seeds contains 10 grams of fibre so it really is an excellent way of staying regular. Not only this but as fibre is essential for balancing the body's insulin levels recent studies have also shown it may even help with Type 2 Diabetes.
Are you looking at improving your exercise performance? Well, give Chia seeds a try instead of the usual sugary drinks. In a study conducted by Journal of Strength and Conditioning participants were given either an energy drink or 50/50 energy drink & Chia seeds and the performance levels were the same. Same workout, fewer calories!
Healthy bones and teeth are a major priority for many people. Just one Ounce of Chia seeds not only contains 18% of your recommended daily allowance of Calcium but also Boron which is an essential nutrient for bone health as it help metabolise the Calcium. Chia seeds also contain Zinc which helps prevent tartar and has an antibacterial effect to keep your breath fresh.
So Chia seeds can give you great skin, a healthy digestion, improve your fitness levels and help look after your smile. Not only this but they are super easy to prepare. Some people just use them as a topping on a salad, yoghurt or porridge. They do absorb liquid though so if you want to keep that crunchy nutty texture, add just before eating.
You can also soak them which gives them a kind of tapioca consistency. Use about a 1:10 ratio to water and leave overnight. You can then make delicious puddings and smoothies from them. Check out some great Chia seed pudding recipes here, which you can also keep and store in little mason jars.
Chia seeds are versatile, delicious and here to stay, which is great news as they really put the ‘super’ in superfoods.