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All About Chia

Why chia seeds are good

Chia is derived from a desert plant called Salvia hispanica, and it offers remarkable nutrition in a small pack- age. The seeds are loaded with fibre: one tablespoon supplies more than
a slice of wholegrain bread! And in that same tablespoon, you get 100 per cent of your daily requirement for the omega-3 fat called alpha linolenic acid. Plus, chia offers a great source of plant protein and supplies minerals and antioxidants.

Despite its use as a so-called super- food, relatively few studies exist on the effects of chia on humans. Of four published clinical trials, three found positive effects for weight loss and lowering blood sugar and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood). Anyone who has tried adding chia seeds to their daily diet can also testify to their benefits for the digestive system.

How to use chia

Chia can be purchased from health food stores and supermarkets as whole seeds, bran or oil. It has a mild, nutty flavour and is extremely versatile.

  • For a refreshing drink, mix 1 table- spoon of seeds in a tall glass of water with a squirt of lemon and allow it to sit for 15 minutes until it’s lightly gelatinous.
  • Use seeds or bran when baking bread, muffins or biscuits.
  • Add chia oil to salad dressings and smoothies.
  • Turn chia into an egg replacer by dissolving 1 tablespoon of seeds in three tablespoons of water.
  • Stir chia bran into your granola.
  • Replace pectin with chia seeds when making jam.
  • Soak seeds in milk overnight to create a raw chia pudding.

While generally a low risk food, one group of researchers in the United States has warned that you should avoid eating chia in dry form, especially if you have a problem with swallowing or a constricted oesophagus. The seeds can absorb up to 27 times their weight in water, so it is best that this occurs prior to eating them, so they slide down easily rather than swelling and blocking your oesophagus!

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