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A Big Cheer for Chia

A Big Cheer for Chia

You’ve heard of it, your friends have mentioned it, it’s on all the foodie blogs but you don’t yet know exactly what Chia seeds are.

Mentions of this little seed are now reaching an all-time high, and your curiosity has got the better of you. Is it the ‘superfood’ we’ve all been searching for, or just another product of the hype machine? One thing is certain: chia’s here, and people are very excited about it.

But what exactly is it? Chia seeds are not new – they were grown by the Aztecs, are a loose member of the mint family and are indigenous to Mexico and Guatemala. But unlike its herby cousin it’s not prized for the flavour of its leaves, but rather for the nutritional qualities of its seeds. According to the USDA, 28g of chia seeds contain 11g of dietary fibre, 4g of protein, more omega-3 than salmon, and 3 times the calcium of milk. It’s also full of antioxidants, and has even helps stabilise your blood sugar levels. Nutritional figures like this blow flax, hemp, and other ‘superseeds’ out of the water: for the health conscious it looks like chia has superseded the superseeds.

Recently it’s been hitting the supermarket shelves as chia moves from the health food shops and into mainstream shopping, adding nutritional credentials to a variety of products. Kellogg’s have been adding it to their cereals; while Pret have a mango chia pot and Eat Natural have included it in some of their cereal bars and we’ve even included them in our ‘Super Seed’ pouch! It seems that we can’t get enough!

However one major drawback of chia is the taste, or lack thereof. The seeds certainly have a good crunch, adding texture to breads, yogurts, or even fish, but their taste is bland. Some of the reviews have described the seeds as slightly nutty, but the general impression is that they don’t have much to offer the palate. So why are they proving so successful?

We think the answer to this is the endless ways you can eat the little seeds – add them to bread, to your morning porridge, to your smoothie, as an alternative to bread crumbs on your chicken and the endorsements from the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Miranda Kerr, and Ellie Goulding add to the buzz!

Equally Chia is exotic and mysterious. The seeds were once an important part of Aztec culture; used in religious ceremonies and prized for their medicinal properties. But then they suddenly disappeared, lost for 500 years, only surviving in a handful of little villages in Mexico and Guatemala. This image of chia as the forgotten food of the Aztecs gives it a mystical allure, endowing any dish you put it in with a consumer grabbing ‘wow factor’.

Overall, the alleged health benefits, the limitless ways to use them in your everyday cooking and the fact we all like to be a part of the newest super food trend makes these little seeds more popular than ever before.