Chia seeds are pretty trendy. They have attracted an image that makes them look like they are for the young, flexible and fabulous or for growing a chia pet. Fact is, chia is a wonderful seed that should not be exclusive to the aforementioned group nor should your chia pet steal all it's glory. The little seed can give you a good dose of calcium, essential fatty acids (EFA's) and fibre at the same time as being a total pleasure to eat. It's Aeroplane Jelly gone gourmet.
Chia seeds contain 500mg of calcium per 100 grams. That's a pretty impressive considering 100 grams of cow's milk contains around 125mg. There goes that theory that you need to drink milk if you are low in calcium - lactose intolerant people rejoice. This makes chia a perfect food for women during pregnancy, post-menopausal women with an increased risk of osteoporosis and growing boys and girls.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
Our essential fatty acids are a vital part of our diet as they cannot be synthesised within us but need to be ingested via our food. EFA's are a part of every cell within us. They have been used for the treatment of depression, assist in improving skin conditions such as eczema and have even been linked to supporting children with ADD.
Chia seeds come first in plant-based omega-3 race. They contain the largest amount of omega-3 fatty acids, the fatty acid less abundant in a western diet. As good as omega-6 is for us, when it is not in balance with omega-3 it can exacerbate a number of health conditions including asthma and arthritis as it increases inflammation systemically. Research has shown that as westerners, we eat a ratio of around 15:1 (omega-6:omega-3). A ratio of 2:1 is much more desirable with a 1:1 ratio being the gold-standard for our health. Including foods like the trusty chia seed helps to balance out your omega-6:omega-3 ratio.
The chia seed is a source of soluble fibre. It forms a mucilage when mixed with liquid making it a great option for people suffering from constipation. It is gentle fibre and can be very useful for children suffering from digestive issues as they will most likely enjoy using them as well as eating them.
Here is a recipe you can try at home that incorporates chia seeds in a "that doesn't look very healthy but I promise you it is" kind of way just to prove that health trending food doesn't have to be just for the young, fit and fabulous. This one is just an utterly delicious flavour combination that everyone can enjoy.
preparation time 10 minutes
For the pudding:
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 overripe banana
1 tablespoon of cacao or cocoa
1/2 cup of liquid (oat/almond/coconut milk)
1 teaspoon sweetener (honey/maple syrup/brown rice syrup)
For the caramel:
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 a cup of liquid (oat/almond/coconut milk)
A sprinkle of salt
Granola to assemble
In a jar, mash up the banana into a smooth paste then add the rest of the pudding ingredients and combine well. Leave this to set in the fridge overnight.
In a blender, mix together all the caramel ingredients until smooth. Place the mixture into a jar and put it in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, stir up the chia seed pudding to even it out then divide both the caramel and chia seed components into two jars to form layers. Layer it as many times as you like and add granola in between or to the top of the jar.
These can be kept in the fridge for 3 days.
Hibbeln, J. R., Nieminen, L. R. G., Blasbalg, T. L., Riggs, J. A., & Lands, W. E. M. (2006). Healthy intakes of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids: estimations considering worldwide diversity. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 83(6 Suppl), 1483S–1493S. Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/83/6/S1483.full
National Health and Medical Research Council. (2005). Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including Recommended Dietary Intakes (pp. 1–329).
Simopoulos, A. P. (2002). The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomédecine & pharmacothérapie, 56(8), 365–79. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909