What's so 'super' about the latest superfood? Ayesha Muttucumaru investigates the power of chia seeds

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The term ‘superfood’ gets thrown around a lot nowadays. Not a month goes by without hearing about the latest wonder-food to hit our shores, yet again promising an unparalleled wealth of health benefits, only to be outdone by the next nut/vegetable/berry craze following shortly thereafter. However on this occasion, we may have just stumbled across something pretty remarkable that not only lives up to the hype but has sent the nutritional community into a frenzy too.

Introducing the small but mighty chia seed. Originally eaten by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs for their nutritional benefits, these seeds are packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to give your innards a serious health boost.

Sounds like a familiar spiel right? So what exactly does this super-seed have that others don’t? We’ve asked Nutritional Therapist Vicki Edgson  to shed some light on the topic to see whether these seeds are truly worthy of being called the next ‘superfood’.

What makes them a superfood?

According to Vicki, chia seeds should be considered a superfood for the following reasons:

  • They contain the perfect balance of Omega 3, protein, and fibre
  • They have more protein in them than in any other vegetarian source, including oats, chickpeas, quinoa and sesame seeds
  • Gram for gram, they have four times the amount of antioxidants than blueberries
  • They last longer too (usually for several months) and are better value in the long run, provided  they are kept in the fridge and kept well away from heat

What are the beauty benefits?

Rich in omega 3, incorporating them into your daily diet could hold the key to younger-looking skin. Vicki points out, “Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory which can resolve a range of different skin complaints such as eczema, extremely dry skin following pregnancy and psoriasis by hydrating the skin at a cellular level.” She adds, “Regular consumption can also result in noticeably fuller, plumper and more toned skin.”

What do I eat them with?

Let’s be honest, as amazing as the benefits sound, eating seeds isn’t the most appetising of mealtime prospects (unless you’re having a bird round for dinner of course). Vicki suggests trying the following in order to discreetly incorporate chia seeds into your diet. She points out, “They don’t have any flavour so you can pretty much add them to anything.”

  • Add aChia Shot by The Chia Co, to your porridge in the mornings. Each one measures out the perfect amount to be eaten every day
  • Mix almond milk with your favourite fruit and blend for a great smoothie (it’ll also provide around 90% of your recommended daily calcium intake)
  • Try simmering a shot of chia with quinoa for a lunchtime snack
  • Add ground chia seeds to your muffin recipe to make them light and fluffy. It also means that you need less flour, ensuring that they don’t become too ‘doughy’

What if I have food intolerances?

Don’t fret if you suffer from food intolerances as it appears that the health rewards can be reaped by all. According to Vicki, “One chia shot contains 10% of your recommended daily allowance of calcium, which makes them ideal if you are lactose-intolerant. They are gluten-free as well.”

And the benefits don’t stop there; “They are also a great way to relieve stress-related constipation and IBS. This is due to the fact that they can hold 16 times their own weight in water and fluids, therefore greatly improving and aiding digestion.”

Where can I buy them from?

Vicki recommends buying chia seeds from The Chia Co , an Australian, family-run company which is dedicated to sustainably growing and cultivating the original chia seed. “They are very ethically bound. No herbicides or pesticides are used and the crops are grown 15 degrees south of the equator where the conditions are consistently perfect all year round.”

The GTG Verdict

Unlike some of its predecessors, the pretty comprehensive list of health, skin and nutritional benefits have convinced us that this is one food fad that is the real deal (a fact evident from the huge array of Chia Seed packaging littering the desks at GTG HQ!).

As Vicki puts it, “The chia seed is considered to be the perfectly balanced combination of protein, carbohydrate and fibre - helping to balance blood-sugar levels, decrease cardiovascular disease, and improve the health and texture of the skin and so much more. Indeed a superfood!”