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Nutrition

Chia seeds - the new miracle food?

In our quest for the perfect health food, we've scoffed handfuls of wheatgrass, swallowed dubiously green seaweed drinks and munched on goji berries galore, and now it seems there's a new superfood set to join their ranks.

Chia seeds are said to have been a staple food for ancient Mexican warriors and are still being used today to help individuals pack their diet full of omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. They are also full of calcium and antioxidants to promote healthy bones and skin cells.

In fact, so powerful are these tiny seeds that they can actually help people feel fuller for longer, because they expand when immersed in liquid, developing a gelatinous coating that makes them ideal ingredients for healthy smoothies, broths and soups.

Chia is native to Mexico and Guatemala but is now being produced in Bolivia, Ecuador and even Australia. The seeds have recently been subject to rule changes in the UK, meaning they can now be sold as a project in their own right rather than as a bread-making component.

According to Wayne Coates, co-author of Chia: Rediscovering a Forgotten Crop of the Aztecs, the seeds can be added to any meal, which provides a quick and easy way for individuals to maintain their healthy living plans.

"I hate to call it a miracle food because there are too many miracles that turn out not to be, but it almost is," Mr Coates told the BBC.

"Literally, you could live on this stuff because it's pretty much everything you need."

Born To Run author Christopher McDougall also expounded upon the benefits of chia for athletes in his bestselling book, noting that in terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of the seeds is like downing a smoothie made from salmon, spinach and human growth hormone.

"If you had to pick just one desert-island food, you couldn't do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home," the writer added.

Posted by Matilda Jones

 
 
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