I’m back to investigating trendy foods. This week- the beloved chia seeds. This seed can be eaten raw, sprinkled on salad or used in homemade energy bars. Chia seeds are also absorbent and develop a gelatinous substance when you let them soak in water, so they can be used to make puddings or jelly. I always see recipes for chia seed pudding and attempted to make chia seed pudding in honour of this blog. Sadly, my end product was a total failure. I blended chia seeds, honey and milk and let it sit overnight. What resulted was nothing like pudding. If anyone has a good recipe or some other secret, please let me know!
What makes chia seeds so “healthy” is that they contain a substantial amount of the essential fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the omega-3 fats. Since ALA is an essential fat, we must eat it on a daily basis to meet our body’s requirements. Women need 1.1 grams of ALA per day and men 1.6 grams of ALA per day. 1 tbsp. of chia seeds meets this daily requirement, as it contains 1.9 grams of ALA.
Chia seeds are also a great source of fibre. 1 tbsp. of chia seeds provides about 4 grams of fibre. To put this in perspective, ½ cup broccoli contains about 2 grams of fibre. 1 apple contains about 3 grams of fibre or ½ cup of rice, about 2 grams of fibre. This is mostly soluble fibre. Soluble fibre helps lower blood cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.
Chia seeds are a complete protein. This means that they contain all the essential amino acids. However, this is insignificant as 1 tbsp. of chia seeds only provides about 3 grams of protein, which is not very much protein. Most people should be aiming for about 15-30 grams of protein per meal or snack, depending on body weight and nutritional goals.
Because chia seeds are a seed, you want to be mindful since the calories can add up quickly. 1 tbsp. of chia seeds contains about 50 calories. If you are using chia seeds, watch your serving size, as 1 tbsp. is all you need to meet your daily ALA needs. For the chia seed pudding that I made, I could have easily eaten the whole thing in one sitting (or at the very least half). It called for 1 cup chia seeds, 2 cup milk and ½ cup honey. The nutrition profile for this: 1530 kcal, 56 grams of fat, 234 grams of carbohydrates, and 45 grams of protein. This also contains 58 grams of fibre, which would have probably sabotaged any running I had planned to do. You can certainly get too much of a good thing.
ALA is an essential fat and is important for health and in particular, inflammation. If you aren’t meeting your daily ALA requirements, eating 1 tbsp. of chia seeds per day is an easy way to meet this goal. However, ground flaxseeds and walnuts are still the winner when it comes to ALA content with about 2.4 grams and 2.3 grams per tbsp. respectively. If you haven’t read my past blog on inflammation, I would recommend that you do so by clicking here.
I will be sending out my April nutrition newsletter tomorrow, so sign up by going to megankuikmanRD.ca, scrolling to the bottom of the page and entering your name and email.