Are chia seeds really that super? + Chia pudding

the-almighty-chia

It seems that everyone is jumping onto the chia bandwagon, even champion surfer Kelly Slater, who’s also become a huge advocate

But, what’s so super about chia?

Chia seeds are gluten-free, and for its tiny size, chia packs a mighty nutritional punch — hence its superfood label. Interestingly, chia is the Mayan word for strength, and it’s derived from the Aztec word chian, meaning oily. The Southwest American Indians ate chia for sustenance during endurance contests. Latin Americas use them to treat constipation. [Source]

Chia’s etymology {origin of word} and historical uses give us great clues about its nutritional qualities.

A serving of 2 tablespoons {~28 grams/1 ounce} of chia seeds contains: 4 g of protein {which is complete}; 9 g of {healthy} fats, 10 g of fibre {about a third of the recommended daily intake [RDI] for adults}, and 18%, RDI of calcium. It’s also exceptionally high in antioxidants, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium and iron, as well as alpha-linoleic acid {omega-3 long chain fatty acids}. [Source]

Sure, chia is jam-packed with nutrients that make it super, but it’s not the be all and end all if you’re not eating well or looking after yourself overall.

I find chia seeds don’t really have a taste, but, in texture, they’re crunchy when dry, and slippery and gelatinous when soaked into wet ingredients {which can take a bit of getting used to}. It’s pretty expensive too. If you’d like to try it out, though, here’s an easy recipe.

Chia breakfast pudding

chia-pudding

Serves 1–2 | Prep time 5 minutes + soaking time | dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly, vegan

  • 1 cup milk of choice {e.g. dairy, nut or coconut milk}
  • 1 medjool date, pitted {or 1 tsp honey/maply syrup}
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ¼ cup chia seeds {black, white, or both}

The night before, in a blender, process together milk, date and cinnamon until the date has blended into the milk.

Pour the milk mixture into a clean glass jar and stir in the chia seeds. Mix well.

Place jar into the fridge.

Next morning, serve with any of the suggested toppings {or anything that takes your fancy}.

Suggested toppings

  1. tropical: pecans, banana slices, toasted coconut flakes
  2. superfood: cacao nibs + goji berries
  3. bircher: grated apple + toasted almond flakes

Variations

  1. choc-chia: when blending, add 2 tsp of cacao powder + an extra date or tsp of honey/maple syrup {to balance the cacao bitterness}
  2. berry chia: when blending, add a 1/3 cup frozen berries and replace the cinnamon with ¼ tsp vanilla powder/essence
  3. yogi chia: instead of milk, use ½ cup natural yoghurt and ½ cup coconut water to make up the 1 cup liquid portion

12 thoughts on “Are chia seeds really that super? + Chia pudding

  1. Donna says:

    Awesome post! Love that you included some science 😉 I’m a chia fan, mainly because it’s quite versatile and packs a punch. nutritionally. Health benefits or not, I’ll be keeping these little treasures close at hand. Love a chia seed pudding! Thanks for the awesome post x

  2. Lorelle Denham says:

    I have read recently that chia seeds can be bad in terms of leaky gut syndrome. I’m trying to find where I read it – will let you know when I read more.

  3. Maryann Lockyer says:

    I have been eating chia for quite some time until recently. I found out I have moderate diverticulosis and shouldn’t be eating seeds, nuts. So I was wondering…if I soak the seeds until they become soft, will that be better for me? I really want to use them since I have a cholesterol problem. I am a vegetarian. Any thoughts on this?

    • Lesh Karan says:

      Hi Maryann, I’m sorry I won’t be able to help you with this. I would speak to a dietician or accredited naturopath who specialises in gut health. They’d be able to give you informed and safe information. BTW, also check whether you can have them ground up (if you can have ground nuts, like almond, meal, then grinding chia seeds into a fine powered may be ok. Again, I’d check first). All the best, Lesh

  4. Katie @ Whole Nourishment says:

    I love chia seeds too and use them in smoothies and puddings. But since media has us thinking we must consume super foods to be healthy, I’m glad you also mentioned chia is not the end-all, be-all and we can eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet without them.

  5. lawrence says:

    The only issue I have with people promoting chia seeds as having omega-3’s is that the human body can not convert ALA found in chia seeds to a form which is bio-available in the body at a rate that would be optimal. If you are lucky and genetically gifted you may be able to convert upto 8% of ALA to EPA and DHA, but for most this number is closer to 2-4%. Better off having fish oil for omega-3’s.

    However the other benefits of chia seeds are great and should be included in the diet to replace things such as flour when cooking or baking.

    I just think people should know that having any plant form of omega-3 is not bio-available in the body, sorry vegans, but you are not really getting your omega-3’s in compared to fish eaters, or vegetarians who will eat eggs and dairy (Grassfed dairy has omega-3 = to omega-6 ratio in it)

    • Lesh Karan says:

      Thanks for your comment Lawrence. I’ve also read that the conversion form ALA to EPA/DHA is limited. Best to site references when making definite claims like these, though, so do you have any primary studies you can cite? {Not opinion pieces or people quoting other people}. It’ll be helpful. Thanks.

  6. Joanna says:

    I made the original recipe last night, using coconut milk and honey, and had it this morning. Wonderful and made me think of dessert.

    In terms of the benefits, I have only found that chia seeds fill me up and keep me fuller, longer (combined with coconut milk, yogurts or kefirs). Personally, I love the crunch.

    Thanks for posting the variations, as well!

Speak your mind, but please be kind

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s