The Benefits of Chia Seeds: Splurge or Save?
As far as budget foods go, Chia seeds aren’t really one of them. These tiny black seeds sell for approximately £24 per kg at UK supermarkets, making them really quite expensive. Chia seeds have been promoted as a ‘super-food’ in recent years, but are they worth the expense?
Nutritional content of chia seeds
Chia seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant that is native to South America. The seeds can vary in colour from black to white and are approximately 1 mm in diameter. They contain B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. Chia is also a rich source of omega-3, and if you’ve read our article on Fats and Oils, you will know that this type of fat is lacking in our typical western diets. 100g of chia seeds also provide 16.54g of protein, 34.4 g fibre and 486 kcal. These seeds might be small but they pack a mighty nutritional punch.
What do I do with them?
Chia seeds are hydrophilic, meaning that they absorb liquid – up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked for 30 minutes or so. After they have been soaked they develop a gel coating with a crunchy seed in the centre, a texture that can be an acquired taste. For this reason, if you are a chia virgin, it might be worth gradually increasing the amount of seeds that you use in your dishes.
Chia seeds are a fantastic protein addition to smoothies. You can pulse mix them into your smoothie once the other ingredients have been blended, then drink them before they have time to swell. This may have the added bonus of helping to fill you up and also increases the calorie content of your smoothies, especially if the smoothie is consumed as a breakfast or snack in its entirety.
Chia puddings are very ‘in vogue’ currently. At their simplest, make a fresh fruit puree, mix in a tablespoon or chia seeds and allow the pudding to stand for up to 30 minutes. Chia seeds make the perfect filling and healthy start to the day, why not get started with some of these breakfast ideas:
So in summary, chia seeds are expensive but highly nutritious and versatile. If you find you don’t like the texture of the soaked seeds, add them to smoothies for an extra nutritional kick. If you are happy with the cost and the gel-like texture then chia seed puddings can add a whole variety of new dishes to your breakfast and pudding repertoire, not to mention numerous health benefits.