LITERALLY everyone these days is using chia seeds in their meal planning, sprinkling it in their porridges, smoothies, parfaits and other yoghurt dishes, as the small seeds are said to be incredibly high in nutrients. But how good are they really? Nutritionist Keisha Black says the seeds, native to central and southern Mexico and a staple in the ancient Aztec and Mayan diets, are a rich source of vitamin B, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.
“The seeds may be added to your foods as a topping or put into smoothies, breakfast cereals, energy bars, granola bars, yoghurt, tortillas, flour and bread,” Black says. “They’re added to the multigrain breads we buy locally, and because they have this mild, nutty flavour, they’re not overpowering or unappealing to eat.”
She said chia seeds are good news for women who want to lose weight too — and they have been praised for inducing weight loss, because of the high concentration of dietary fibre.
In a 2015 Brazilian study, Chia induces clinically discrete weight loss and improves lipid profile only in altered previous values by Toscano et al, with volunteers who were overweight or obese, showed high waist circumference, hyperlipidemia and slightly increased blood glucose at baseline, the authors found that body weight significantly decreased in the chia study group after 12 weeks of intervention, where they consumed chia flour daily.
They concluded that dietary fibre may improve satiety, decrease caloric intake and promote weight loss, and the chia flour contained this. The dietary fibre in chia, they concluded, “have high viscosity leading to gel formation in the gastrointestinal tract that may confer to this food an additive effect on satiety”.
“The high content of omega-3 present in chia can help to reduce obesity by suppressing appetite, improving lipid oxidation and energy expenditure and reducing fat deposition,” the authors added.
Black said the good thing about chia seeds is that they can be sprinkled over any and everything.
“A single serving of two tablespoons, for example, will give you close to 20 per cent of your daily value for calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamins B1 and B3,” she said. “So just imagine how potent they are! They are also filled with antioxidants to protect your heart and liver and to keep cancer at bay.”
Here are four of your meals that Black said can be complemented by adding chia seeds.
Cornmeal or oatmeal porridge
A staple of the Jamaican diet, you can sprinkle a tablespoon or two on your freshly made and sweetened oats or cornmeal porridge as a topping, as you would your cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins or nuts.
Make parfait with your granola, yoghurt and fruit as usual, and sprinkle chia seeds in between each layer, and on top.
Baked goods and dumplings
Chia seeds can be baked in bread or pastries, so add them in the mix for your cookies and cupcakes, and sprinkle on top of the frosting for your cupcakes too. You can also add the seeds in your dough for making fried dumplings, fritters and pancakes.
Add the seeds to your smoothies too, for a nice punch. You can also add the seeds to your fruit salads, apple sauce, jello, and pudding snacks for your kids.