The Guru: Chia seeds

Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) are packed with powerful properties and could well prove to be one of the most beneficial super-foods for our future.

The world's largest producer of chia is The Chia Company, which is based in WA.

Chia seeds are readily available through health shops and supermarkets and will assist weight loss, cholesterol-lowering, diabetics, indigestion and constipation sufferers, fat burning and help vegetarians seeking plant proteins and omega-3 fatty acids.

These seeds possess the following powerful properties:

  • Eight times more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon

  • Six times more fibre than oatbran (both soluble and insoluble) for bowel, cholesterol control and blood-sugar regulation

  • They form a complete vegan protein (23 per cent)

  • Three times more iron than spinach

  • Fifteen times more magnesium than broccoli

  • Four times more antioxidant value than blueberries

  • Seven times more vitamin C than is found in oranges

  • Five times more calcium than milk and in a more easily digestible form

  • No gluten

  • Twice the level of potassium than bananas

  • Eighteen amino acids, B12 and Vitamin A

  • Stable without refrigeration and their high antioxidant levels make them very resistant to rancidity in our warm climate.

Chia seeds were a powerhouse food of the Aztecs and Mayans from 3500BC but the Spanish conquests depleted most cropping areas.

Following crop trials of chia seeds on the fertile Kimberley plains, the Chiatah brand has been available for the past few years.

The 2009 NAB Agribusiness Awards for Excellence recognised this company as a key innovator.

In the future we can look forward to products such as chia oil, ground chia and chia bran.

Chia seeds are about the size of sesame seeds and can be black or white. They can be eaten as an energy snack, sprinkled over salads or cereals, or incorporated into any baking product lightening the texture of bread.

Breaking down the shell when chewing will release the nutrients more efficiently.

Chia also acts like a sponge to absorb toxins, increases colon lubrication and strengthens the bowel's muscle action.

This is a wonderful way to keep the bowel healthy, stabilise blood sugars and feel "full" to prevent over-eating.

Through its high essential fatty acid levels it also is a powerful anti-inflammatory tool. This will effect a slow release and conversion of carbohydrates through its mucilloid soluble fibre and when mixed with water or stomach juices, forms a barrier to slow down carbohydrate digestion, breaking down fats and preventing insulin surges.

To achieve this, stir one to three teaspoons of chia seeds into a cup of water (3tsp if using for weight control). Re-stir after 10 minutes and drink after breakfast or dinner.

Chia can be sprouted or used as a gel, using 3tsp of chia seeds to a cup of water.

Once refrigerated, this gel will keep for a week ready to be mixed into yoghurt, salad dressings or baking as needed.

As it doesn't become rancid once ground, as linseeds do, consider using chia, sunflower seeds and almonds as a more beneficial LSA mix to add to your cereal.

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