All you need to know about chia seeds
Sometimes it feels as if each new week brings a new superfood. Lately, tiny black and white chia seeds are being touted as nutritional powerhouses. Chia, from the mint family, was cultivated by the Aztecs as a key food crop. I was sceptical but clinical nutritionist Stephanie Moore, head of nutrition at Grayshott Spa, told me: ‘Chia seeds are more than the latest health food fad. There’s lots of research supporting the claims.’ Here’s her roundup of the documented benefits. ■ Chia gives you more calcium weight for weight than full-fat milk, plus it has manganese and phosphorus – all essential minerals for bones, teeth and tissue repair.
■ It is the highest non-animal source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are strongly anti-inflammatory and vital for brain function, hormone balance, healthy skin, hair and nails. (Chia omega-3 is more easily converted to the active form than omega-3 in flaxseed.)
■ Chia balances blood sugar levels so it’s great for diabetics and anyone who gets energy slumps when blood sugar dips.
■ Packed with soluble fibre, it keeps you feeling full and eases the transit of food through your system, so it helps inflammatory gut problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
■ It has high levels of protein, containing all the essential amino acids, which makes chia the same quality as animal protein so it is great for vegetarians/vegans.
■ Chia contains the ‘happy’ amino acid tryptophan, which is the main ingredient for the feel-good brain chemical serotonin.
■ It’s packed with antioxidant vitamins, which help protect your whole system against damaging free radicals – including your skin.
■ Chia has been shown to benefit heart health, by lowering blood pressure and unhealthy fats in your blood.
■ Stephanie recommends eating one to two tablespoons daily, whole or ground. ‘For maximum benefit, soak the seeds so they swell. They look like tapioca but will keep you feeling full and are very healing for the intestines.’ She helped devise this simple (delicious, I promise) chia muesli.
Soak 2 tbsp chia seeds in about 120 ml water for ten minutes. Add half a grated pear or apple, frozen or fresh berries, a pinch of cinnamon, and 1 tbsp nuts and seeds (soak hazelnuts, almonds, brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds in water overnight to make them more digestible). Serve with a dollop of full-fat organic natural yoghurt.
BEAT POST-CANCER LIBIDO LOSS
Over half of breast cancer survivors under 55 say their sex lives have suffered as a direct result of their diagnosis or treatment, according to a new survey by Macmillan Cancer Support. ‘I have survived and had the luxury of seeing my children grow up, but the flipside is that my complete loss of libido has badly affected the lovely relationship I had with my husband,’ one woman told me. ‘Women need to know it is not their fault, and to get information and support before the problems start.’ For other women (or men) struggling in the same way, Macmillan cancer information nurse Jennifer Gorrie says, ‘There is help: speak to your doctors and/or call the Macmillan Cancer Support helpline/0808-808 0000.’ Macmillan offers a Sexuality and Cancer leaflet, which can be downloaded from the ‘order information’ section of www.be.macmillan.org.uk.
WE'RE GOING BALMY FOR...
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