The properties of chia seeds
We tell you about the main properties and benefits of chia, a seed from Latin America. Discover how to use it in cooking and for taking care of your health.
on today's menu24 January 2020
What is chia?
Chia, or Salvia hispanica, is a plant originating in Central America. It is one of the plant species with the greatest concentration of omega 3 fatty acids that we know about. It is grown for its seeds which are used as a food. Chia is a word of Mayan origin which means strength. Both the Mayans and the Aztecs included these seeds in their diet. The cultivation of this plant was replaced by cereals brought by the Spanish during the colonisation, and chia disappeared until it recovered a few years ago. Today, it is part of the diet for many people who are concerned about their health.
In recent years, its versatility in cooking and its great nutritional value have made it one of the fashionable foods.
Types of chia seeds
There are black and white chia seeds. Both are a variety of Salvia hispanica. Nutritionally, they are practically identical and are only differentiated by their colour.
Nutritional value of chia
100 grams of chia seeds contain 5 grams of carbohydrates, 21 grams of protein and 24 grams of unsaturated fatty acids.
Principal benefits of chia
1. The high concentration of mucilage, a type of soluble fibre that grows when in contact with water, makes chia seeds multiply in size by a factor of ten in the digestive tract. Their high fibre content gives those who consume chia seeds a sense of satiety. They also help to regulate intestinal transit.
2. The omega 3 contributes to the proper functioning of the heart.
3. Chia seeds have a high concentration of phenols, an antioxidant that slows down the activity of free radicals. This helps to prevent premature ageing of the skin.
4. Eating chia seeds helps to maintain the bones, as 30 grams of chia seeds provide 20% of the amount of recommended calcium, an indispensable mineral for maintaining bone mass and structure.
How to incorporate chia seeds into your diet
The recommended daily quantity of chia seeds is 25 grams, approximately two soup spoonfuls. Chia seeds have a slight nutty flavour. They can be added to almost any dish, whether soups, salads, stews, purees, shakes… although many people eat them at breakfast. A very simple way to eat these seeds during the first meal of the day is to have a spoonful in cereal or in a yogurt. They can also be added to the dough of madeleines, sponges or bread before baking.