Some days ago I have been asked about the safety of chia seeds consumption, based on a case report published in The USA showing that a 39-year-old man had his esophageal lumen blocked after the intake of 1 tbsp of chia seeds, followed by water.
I have to confess that I just adore this seed because of its nutritional properties and high versatility. Thus, I went in search of evidence about it and ended up doing a brief review of the subject. It includes the safety of its consumption, nutritional properties and ways to add it to the everyday diet – and of course, my super-healthy-yummy chia pudding recipe <3
Some Facts about Chia Seeds
Chia seeds (Sálvia hispanica L.) are a natural source of unsaturated fat acids (17% of its total weight), especially w-3 (23% of its total weight), dietary fibers (35%), high-quality proteins (22%) and antioxidants, including tocopherols and phenolic compounds.
This way, chia seeds exhibit a significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential. It’s worth mentioning that w-3 is one of those famous “healthy fats” but scarcely consumed through a standard western diet comparing to foods known to promoting inflammation. Furthermore, because of its high fiber content, they have an important role in gut function, satiety feeling and stability of blood glycemic levels (sugars) – just to mention some of its properties. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests, at least, 25g of dietary fibers per day, but in many cases (depending on the usual diet) this amounts are not reached. Finally, its antioxidants offer protection against exacerbated free radical production, responsible for premature aging and diseases development.
Does it mean all of us should eat a lot of chia, every day?
Not at all. It means it’s a high quality seed and that it can be used as an alternative to increasing the intake of w-3, fibers, proteins and antioxidants for people who has no contraindications. It’s worth mentioning that these nutrients or substances can be found in numerous foods, not only in chia seeds. Furthermore, a healthy diet should be varied, moderate and balanced.
Does chia have contraindications?
Yes. Every type of food may sometimes be contraindicated depending on individual factors and health status of each person.
Regarding the case of the man who has had his esophageal lumen blocked, it’s known he had a history of swallowing problems, especially for solid stuff. In this case, it wouldn’t be a good idea eating a tablespoon full of seeds that expand more than ten times when hydrated, followed by water. A better option would be the previous seeds hydration, or even not to consume it.
Possible contraindications: swallowing problems, frequent diarrhea, gastrointestinal diseases, nuts or seeds allergy, blood coagulation problems and intake of anticoagulant medicines. In these cases, it’s better to look for specialized help.
How can I include chia seed in my diet and take advantage of its excellent properties?
Considering the tremendous capacity for hydration and expansion of chia seeds, it’s recommended to eat dry seeds always in small amounts, add in liquid meals, or previously hydrated, for everyone (even for people who doesn’t have any contraindication so far).
Chia is a quite versatile seed and can be included in many different ways in the diet, such as:
• Dry (in small amounts) on fruits, salads, and other dishes;
• Dry in yogurts, dips, sauces, soups, vitamins, juices, as well as in breads, cakes and pancakes;
• For thicker soups, sauces or gravy, it’s just to add dry seeds and cook for some extra minutes;
• Consumed after hydration in water or other liquids, because it will turn into a gel. This gel may be used pure or added in other preparations (juices, vitamins, yogurts). It can also substitute some of the eggs or oil when making homemade bread, cakes and biscuits;
• Added in cereal bars or granola.
And now, my favourite part:
Chia Pudding Recipe (photo)
Very easy and fast to prepare, it’s an excellent option for a light and nourishing breakfast or snack between meals.
• One glass of coconut milk (200ml);
• 3-4 tbsp of dry chia seeds;
• Some drops of vanilla extract (to taste);
• One tsp of raw honey;
• Your favourite fruits.
How to prepare:
• Mix the milk, chia seeds, honey and vanilla extract in a small bowl or jug, and put then put this mixture in a dessert bowl;
• Leave it resting in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or until it reaches a pudding consistency;
• Before serving, just put your favourite fruits on it and bon appetit!
• You can add other ingredients in the pudding, before take it to the fridge, such as cacao powder, raw honey, fruits (strawberry, raspberry, coconut, passion fruit), etc.
• For the topping, you can use your favourite fruits, granola, honey, dark chocolate, seeds…
Did you like it?