Chia seeds do seem to have a lot going for them (meaning for you!). Apparently they were regarded by ancient Aztec civilizations as being the leader in superfoods and the same is true today as the food is ‘re-discovered’ and grown commercially.
Those first grown on a large scale in Australia came from a very successful cooperative enterprise, using sustainable farming principles, in the Kimberley region of North Western Australia. The chia plantings are gravity watered from Lake Argyle, which flows into the mighty Ord River.
But now that consumers have become aware of the health benefits of chia seeds they are in high demand, with 'home grown' production keeping pace with developing markets and leading, one would hope, to less reliance on imports.
‘Superfoods’ was a word coined in the 1990s to describe foods that were highly nutritious and that possessed outstanding health benefits because of their superior vitamin, mineral or protein content when compared with others.
Many contain high levels of anti-oxidants or have properties that help to fight inflammation, to give extra energy or to assist with the prevention of such common conditions as diabetes, heart disease or cancer.
But, personally, I am only interested in them if they also taste delicious!
If you don’t know what this superior food source is, it is hardly surprising as they have only been used in the Western world for a few short years. Highly valued in Mexico, in particular, chia (salvia rhyacophila) is a herb, of the mint family, which grows to waist height and displays attractive bright blue flowers, which become the shiny white, brown or black seeds of the plant as it matures.
With a pleasant, mild nutty flavor, the seeds may be used whole or ground, sprinkled on cereal, used in baking or added to sauces, fruit drinks and smoothies. They absorb water or other liquid, such as fruit juice or almond milk, forming a clearish gel, which is highly nutritious and sustaining. When sprouted they are used in salads. The leaves of the plant may be made into a pleasant tea.
Australian chia, grown near Lake Argyle in the tropics of Western Australia, is the cleanest and most nutritious in the world, free from dust and rubbish and grown in fertile soil, completely without the use of chemicals. The farms in this area of hot, dry winters are regularly tested and monitored by Australian and International standard authorities.
What are some benefits of chia seeds?
For a start they are very rich in essential fatty acids (omega 3, omega 6, omega 9) so are important for maintaining our immune, cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Sustained energy is helped by the soluble fibre that the seeds contain and diabetes is better controlled if the seeds are eaten regularly.
I have read that ‘chia’ in the ancient Mayan language meant ‘strength’, a factor that must have influenced the endurance of our athletes and other sportspeople who have chia, yoghurt and banana smoothies for breakfast!
Arthritis sufferers often find that their mobility and pain is improved after a few weeks of using chia seeds as the anti-inflammatory properties ‘kick in’.
It’s tempting to think of these seeds as miracle workers, helping to prevent or treat heart disease, cancer,diabetes, arthritis and even weight loss as muscle mass is improved and metabolism increased.
Colon health is protected, too, as the now swollen seeds gently cleanse, de-toxify and strengthen its functions.
Absorption of its quality protein is assisted by the presence of strontium, a mineral, which can assist with improving osteoporosis as can calcium, potassium and magnesium, present in high proportions in this incredible seed.
The high percentage of anti-oxidants in this wholegrain food also assists in preventing the seeds from oxidizing or going rancid, hence ensuring a long shelf life.
My chia seeds garden experiment