Seed focus - Chia

These small brown seeds may help you achieve a healthy weight and protect your heart at the same time...

What?
Chia seeds are actually part of the mint family. They’re grown in Latin America and are now becoming more popular in the UK. They’re made up of around 15% protein, 50% carbohydrates and 35% fat. However only 10% of this fat is classed as the unhealthy ‘saturated’ type. Chia seeds are a good source of calcium – in fact a tablespoon will provide about 15% of a woman’s daily recommended allowance.

Why?
You should include chia seeds as part of your diet for the following reasons...

Heart Protection
Studies show that whole and ground chia seeds could raise blood levels of omega-3s. Plus they found that whole seeds could reduce the level of triglycerides (that’s bad fats, to you and me), whilst ground chia can increase levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, which can lessen the risk of developing heart disease.

Weight Management
Chia seeds have a low glycaemic index (GI) because of the mixture of protein, healthy fats and fibre. This means they’re great for keeping a stable blood sugar level and can help when you’re trying to stick to a diet. If you left chia seeds in water for thirty minutes they would form a gel – this is apparently thought to happen in the stomach too; which could slow the speed at which digestive enzymes get to carbohydrates in the seeds, which slows the conversion to absorbable sugars. 
 
How can I use them?
Chia seeds have a nutty flavour that’s mild so they’re perfect as a topping on things like yoghurt, cereals or salads. Sprinkle them on cakes or add them to smoothies before you blend - although it’s worth noting their thickening qualities, so don’t get too carried away!