At a recent food styling photo shoot we prepared a dessert containing chia seeds. I had never worked with chia seeds, and I could not help randomly blurting out ch-ch-chia! every once in a while. As a child I watched those grow your own chia pet commercials, and I have a vague memory of a comedy sketch that involved bald men spreading a chia seed paste on their heads in order to "sprout" hair. It may have been on SNL. All silliness aside the results of the recipe we prepared for our shoot were intriguing and inspired me to get to know chia seeds a bit better. Here are 2 thorough descriptions of the seed:
Source Eatingwell.comMove over flax and hemp. The latest super seed to sprout on store shelves is ch-ch-ch-chia, a cousin of the seeds (Salvia columbariae) you once used to grow a crop of green hair atop your clay “pet.” The chia seed now sold as a nutty topping for yogurts and salads and used in cereals, energy bars, even pastas, is a different variety called Salvia hispanica. This type of chia reportedly packs more alpha-linoleic acid, an omega-3 fat, than flax seeds, and also provides fiber, antioxidants and even some calcium and iron. A member of the mint family that is abundant in Mexico and South America, chia was highly prized by the Aztecs, who believed it provided supernatural powers. Today, it’s being touted for having cardiovascular benefits, reducing blood sugar levels and perhaps even squelching hunger pangs.
They are a complete source of protein, providing all the essential amino acids in an easily digestible form. They are also a fabulous source of soluble fibre. Like flax, chia is highly hydrophilic: the seeds absorb water and create a mucilaginous gel. They can hold 9-12 times their weight in water and they absorb it very rapidly - in under 10 minutes. One advantage of chia is that because it has such a high antioxidant content, the seeds stay stable for much longer, whereas flax, for example, may turn rancid. Chia seeds can easily be stored dry for 4-5 years without deterioration in flavour, odour or nutritional value. You can substitute chia in any recipe that calls for flax.
- Chia encrusted salmon
- Chocolate Chia energy bar
- Click here for 40 ways to use chia seeds!
- More about chia seeds
The Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center cites a study that showed that chia seed supplementation significantly reduced several risk factors for cardiovascular disease in 20 subjects with Type II diabetes. Effects included decreased blood pressure and fibrinogen and C-reactive protein levels. However, the center also states that these results indicate that chia seeds may increase the effects of medications to lower blood pressure. If you are currently taking anti-hypertensive drugs, or have other risks for heart disease, please consult with a qualified health care practitioner before using this dietary supplement.