What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds derive from the mint family, a plant called the salvia hispanica. Originating from South America and cultivated by indigenous cultures, chia seeds were a staple in Aztec, Mayan, and Toltec diets. In recent years the chia seed has gained popularity around the world.
Their rich source of healthy fats along with the health benefits they provide has landed them as a leading health food and a staple in many diets.
Following a Paleo diet can be tasking, especially when it comes to finding staple foods that offer the required nutrients and health benefits. For those starting on the Paleo diet, this task is amplified and it can be daunting trying to figure out what you can and can’t eat.
The following presents all the information you need to know about chia seeds, how they work with the paleo diet and how to incorporate them into your meals.
Are chia seeds Paleo-friendly?
Chia seeds not only provide several health benefits, but they are also naturally gluten-free and non-GMO making the ultimate go-to paleo superfood.
Questions have been raised on whether chia seeds are paleo due to them technically being a whole-grain food… However, the purpose of the Paleo diet is to eat in a way that our ancestors would have eaten.
The Paleo diet includes consuming food in its raw form as the eating plan is based on the belief that the processed foods we eat today put a strain on our digestive system. And so, the Paleo diet aims to reduce our carb and sugar intake and instead focuses on consuming lean proteins and healthy fats.
Healthy fats include olive oil, oily fish, nuts, avocados, and seeds. Chia seeds would have been gathered by our early ancestors and so eating seeds is highly encouraged in the Paleolithic diet.
Should I eat chia seeds on a Paleo diet?
The nutritional content, healthy fatty acids, and positive effect chia seeds have on digestive health and regulating insulin levels in the body make it the ideal snack or ingredient for a Paleo diet.
Chia seeds are a mix of brown, black and white seeds a similar size to a mustard seed. They possess a neutral taste with a crunchy texture that is great for adding texture to foods and drinks. This is a fantastic food to either snack on or add as an ingredient to add some variety to Paleo recipes.
The Benefits Of Eating Chia Seeds
For years, chia seeds have been hailed for their health benefits and medicinal properties due to their high nutritional content of healthy fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, etc.
Packed With Protein
Chia seeds are high in fiber and protein. Chia seeds are popular amongst the vegetarian and vegan communities due to their rich source of protein. 4.5 grams per ounce of seeds are packed with almost the same amount of protein as an egg. So for a Paleo diet, chia seeds are a brilliant way to increase protein variety.
High In Fiber
The high fiber content of chia seeds not only helps in regulating bowel movements but also helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and health conditions such as heart disease. They work to help you feel fuller for longer by expanding the juices within your gut.
Full Of Fat
The paleo plan focuses on maintaining a high fat and low carb diet. The encouragement of consuming fats includes healthy fats that are rich in omega-3 and omega-6. A balance of these two healthy fatty acids ensures optimal health. Not getting enough of these healthy fats can result in inflammation, insulin resistance, and obesity.
These fats can be absorbed from seeds such as chia seeds, seafood, avocados, and natural unprocessed oils.
Vitamins And Minerals
Chia seeds are packed in vitamins and minerals. Just to name a couple of the health benefits; in 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, you’ll get 30% of your recommended daily amount of magnesium and manganese, 18% of your calcium, and 27% of your phosphorus.
They are rich in antioxidants holding more antioxidants than blueberries, chia seeds protect the body from toxins, diseases, and aging.
They are known to help regulate blood sugar levels, the high levels of fiber packed in chia seeds help regulate insulin production in the body.
How To Eat Chia Seeds On A Paleo Diet
Their ability to absorb water/ liquid 10-12 times their weight, makes them a great ingredient for thickening smoothies and puddings. Once the liquid has been absorbed, the chia seed turns to a gel-like state that once ingested, functions as a prebiotic and enhances probiotic growth in the gut.
Not only do they boast an array of health benefits, but they are also easy to incorporate into a Paleo diet and can be added to smoothies, sauces, and puddings.
Here is a popular example of a delicious paleo-friendly chia seed recipe:
Overnight Paleo Chia Pudding
Packed full of goodness, this easy and delicious breakfast pudding will help you start the day off in the right way.
- 1 cup of paleo-friendly milk e.g. almond, coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
- Your preferred paleo-friendly sweetener to taste e.g. honey
- A handful of berries for topping
- Thoroughly mix your chia seeds with the milk you have chosen
- Place in a jar, container, or bowl and cover and refrigerate overnight
- Top up with more liquid if needed to reach your desired consistency
- Add your paleo-friendly sweetener to taste (drizzle a little honey on the top)
- Top with a handful of your favorite berries
Chia seed pudding can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week! *Just make sure it’s in an airtight container. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
How are chia seeds stored?
Chia seeds can be stored for up to two years. A long shelf life ensures continual enjoyment without having to worry about them going rancid. A tip would be to keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator to maximize the shelf life.