You might not be throwing a packet of chia seeds into your shopping basket alongside your milk and bread just yet, but these superfoods are worth seeking out if you want an easy health boost.
Chia seeds are one of the richest sources of Omega-3, protein and fibre in the plant world and they're high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants too. They come from a flowering plant native to Mexico and Guatemala, which is why the ancient Aztecs were so fond of them.
They're thought to help with skin regeneration, heart health, joint function and encourage a healthy and happy digestive system. They also contain calcium, manganese and phosphorus.
Still need more convincing? Take a look at our top 6 reasons why chia seeds should feature in your diet.
1. They can be added to anything and everything
The seeds are tasteless so they won't affect the flavour of your favourite dishes. They are a bit crunchy, so try sprinkling them on salads or adding them to your morning toast or porridge. You can also buy chia seeds milled in a coarse powder which can be easily added to smoothies or ice cream.
2. They can help to fight diseases
Chia seeds are being studied as a potential natural treatment for type-2 diabetes because of their ability to slow down digestion. They are also thought to prevent blood sugar spikes (that horrible crash and burn you feel after lunch) and brittle bones/osteoporosis thanks to high levels of calcium. Finally, research has shown that chia seeds can improve blood pressure and increase healthy cholesterol while lowering bad triglyceride cholesterol. Great news for your heart health.
3. They're high in fibre
Just 28 grams of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fibre - about a third of your recommended daily allowance. Chia seeds have an even mixture of both soluble and insoluble fibre, which means they can encourage healthy bowel movements, reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol levels in your blood.
4. They're high in Omega-3 fatty acids
There are nearly five grams of omega-3 in a one-ounce serving of chia seeds. Fatty acids are essential for healthy cells, brain function, memory and heart health. They're also a great source of protein for vegetarians. See more foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids in the gallery below...
5. Feel fuller faster
Chia seeds contain tryptophan - an amino acid found in turkey - that is responsible for regulating appetite, promoting sleep and improving your overall mood. Not bad, eh? They also have a stabilising effect on blood sugar which can reduce your likeliness of carrying excess belly fat.
6. They contain manganese and phosphorus
Manganese is great for healthy bones and it's also an 'enabler' for your body to use nutrients like biotin and thiamin. One serving contains about 30% of your recommended daily allowance. They're high in phosphorus too, which is responsible for cell and tissue growth, repair and healthy teeth.
A range of Chia products are available from The Chia Co., Holland & Barrett and health food stores nationwide.
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