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Chia – superfood or superfad?

3 interesting facts about chia

  • Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family.
  • Along with quinoa and amaranth, chia has also been classed as a pseudocereal – a non-grass plant whose seed can be ground into flour and otherwise used as cereal.
  • Now one of the world's biggest chia producers is right here in Australia, in the Kimberley region of WA.
Chia and fruit for breakfast

What are the nutritional benefits of chia?

Although they are very small, they are full of important nutrients.

  • Extremely high in omega 3 fatty acids
  • Full of fibre
  • High in protein
  • High in calcium
  • Good source of magnesium and zinc
  • Gluten free too!

Can chia be used to assist with weight control?

Because of their high nutritional value and fibre content, chia seeds keep you feeling full for longer, thus have the capacity to assist in weight control.

Choice magazine, www.choice.com.au tells us that the problem with making health claims about chia is the lack of hard evidence.  Choice believes that there have not been enough definitive studies relating chia directly with good health.

On the other hand It seems logical that people who need more fibre and omega three in their diets can benefit from including chia as part of their healthy diet.  If you are a vegetarian, you may depend more on nuts and seeds as an alternative to meat, eggs and fish. It would be a good idea include chia in your diet.

Where can I find chia and how can I use it?

There are many products available in supermarkets with chia included.  If you are after the omega 3, check nutrition labels and choose a product that has at least 200mg of ALA (alpha linolenic acid) per serving. Alpha linolenic acid is the plant form of omega-3.  If the product has less than 200mg of ALA you’d be right to wonder if chia is only in the product as a marketing ploy to cash in on the chia “health halo”.

You don’t need to rely on packaged products to get your fix of chia.  Buy plain chia seeds and sprinkle them on muesli, porridge, salads or put them in smoothies or smoothie bowls.  Check out the recipe for almond, maple chia porridge and enjoy a bowl for breakfast tomorrow!

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