If you are looking for healthy convenient food (that requires zero prep time!) to add to your diet, chia seeds might be exactly what you need. Why? Let’s see…
First of all, just with one tablespoon of seeds (that you can simply sprinkle or mix into your yogurt, smoothie, oatmeal, cereal, salad or any other dish you want) you will get:
- 5 grams of fiber
- 2.5 grams of protein
- 90 mg of calcium
- 2.5 g of omega-3 fatty acids called ALA
…and a bunch of other important nutrients!
“Whoa,” you might say.” That’s a lot of random numbers!” You are right! Let’s try to decode these one at a time.
Five grams of fiber for such a small amount of food is a really good deal! Depending on your age, five grams of fiber will cover between 15-25% of your entire daily needs. Just like that! In fact, this will exceed the amount you would find in the same number of most fruits, cereals and nuts. For example, if you eat one whole apple with skin, you will get less than 5 grams (don’t get me wrong; apples are still awesome!). Interesting fact: most of the fiber in chia seeds is “insoluble”. This type of fiber will attract water into your stool, make it softer and easier to pass. So, if you want to help your bowels – try chia seeds!
Two and a half grams of protein probably doesn’t sound very impressive, but let’s go deeper. Firstly, chia seeds contain what is called a “complete protein”, meaning it has all nine essential amino acids (or protein blocks), which our body cannot make on its own. Secondly, we are just talking about a tablespoon of chia seeds. On a per gram basis, chia actually has way more protein than other, more famous plant-based foods, such as beans and nuts. So, if you want an easy and wholesome protein “extra” to help your body build and repair muscles, make hormones, support immunity and so much more - chia seeds can be a great way to do it!
This one is a bit trickier than you may think. Chia seeds seem to be a very good source of calcium, since just a tablespoon provides about 90 milligrams of calcium. Plus, so many studies show that eating chia seeds makes your bones healthier and stronger. Ninety milligrams of calcium is about 7-13% of what you may need in a whole day depending on your age, so it seems to be a no brainer; your bones will be happy!
However, because of some other compounds present in chia seeds, your body is unlikely to absorb very much calcium here. So, what is the catch then? Well, the real benefit for your bones actually seems to be coming from omega-3s…
Food scientists are impressed by the amount of omega-3 fats found in chia seeds, particularly omega-3s called α-linolenic acid or ALA. In fact, of all the known food sources, chia seeds contain the highest concentration (2.5 g per one tablespoon!) of ALA.
Although the medical world still debates on what exact amount of ALA is ideal for us, based on the most current research, Health Canada recommends 1.1 grams of ALA daily for women (1.3 g during breastfeeding and 1.4 grams during pregnancy) and 1.6 g for men. Amounts suggested for kids are lower and depend on age, so reach out to your dietitian for more specific suggestions. We do know, that omega-3 fats help our brain and nervous system, reduce inflammation and also appear to help our bones! So why not to treat your body with some chia seeds?! It is so easy!
As always stay safe, positive and "bite smartly". Love you all and til next!
Celiac Disease and Food Allergies Note: Chia seeds are naturally gluten-free and may be a great source of nutrients for people with various food allergies. Studies have not shown any cross-reactivity concerns with other seeds, nuts or legumes.
Kulczyński, B., Kobus-Cisowska, J., Taczanowski, M., Kmiecik, D., & Gramza-Michałowska, A. (2019). The Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds-Current State of Knowledge. Nutrients, 11(6), 1242. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11061242
Barreto A et al. (2016). Characterization and Bioaccessibility of Minerals in Seeds of Salvia hispanica L. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 2016, 7, 2323-2337
USDA. Department of Agriculture Food Data Central. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170554/nutrients