The tasty benefits of chia

Beyond the giggle-inducing Chia Heads and Chia Pets, chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods you can add to your vegan diet. We talked with Manhattan-based registered dietician Robin Barrie Kaiden about the wealth of health benefits chia seeds deliver and how vegans can get more of the nutrient-dense superfood into their everyday meals.
Beyond the giggle-inducing Chia Heads and Chia Pets, chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods you can add to your vegan diet. We talked with Manhattan-based registered dietician Robin Barrie Kaiden about the wealth of health benefits chia seeds deliver and how vegans can get more of the nutrient-dense superfood into their everyday meals.

Meet Robin Barrie Kaiden

Robin Barrie Kaiden, MS, RD, CDN, CSSD is a registered dietician with a private practice in Manhattan. The health expert consults for top medical specialists and prestigious fitness centers in the tri-state area, and she is currently the in-house nutritionist at Drive 495, Manhattan’s premier golf fitness club in the heart of SoHo. To learn more about Robin, visit RobinBarrie.com.  
 
Miso Vegan: What is so great about chia seeds?

Robin Barrie Kaiden: Chia seeds are a “nutrition powerhouse”. They have maximum nutrition with minimal calories. They are filling, energizing, and loaded with vitamins and minerals. Chia seeds were extremely important to the Aztec and Mayan Indians for health and endurance but were wiped out along with the fall of their empires. In the past couple of decades, the plants and seeds have been cultivated. 

Just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds has:

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  • 60 calories
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  • 3 grams of healthy anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy omega-3 fats
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  • only 6 grams of carbohydrates
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  • 6 grams of fiber, which keeps you full and promotes good digestion while fighting heart disease
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  • 3 grams of protein and 10 essential amino acids for muscle integrity
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  • 11% of calcium, 13% of iron, 11% of phosphorus, 12% of magnesium, 6% of zinc required for your daily needs

They give you energy while the fiber and protein fill you up and help you feel satiated.  They also are “hydrophilic”, or water-loving, meaning they attract water (up to 10 times their weight in water) and help keep you hydrated.  Chia seeds are also high in antioxidants. 

Miso Vegan: Are there any potential allergies or side effects to eating chia?

Robin Barrie Kaiden: Any food could cause an allergic reaction, so if you do not feel well after consuming chia, you should contact your doctor immediately.  Those who are not supposed to eat seeds or nuts as indicated by their doctor, nutritionist, or health care professional, such as those with diverticulitis, may want to avoid chia seeds.  Always consult with your health care providers first if this may be a concern. 

Miso Vegan: What are five easy ways vegans can get more chia in their diet?

Robin Barrie Kaiden: The recommended amount is 2 to 4 tablespoons daily.

Here are a few tasty ways to add chia to your diet:

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  1. Eating all-natural energy/protein bars where chia is the main ingredient (like Health Warrior’s 100-Calorie Chia Bar).
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  3. Add chia seeds to water with a squeeze of lemon or lime and agave to taste to make a Chia Fresca.
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  5. Stir chia seeds into vegan yogurt and top with fresh fruit and agave for a healthy breakfast, snack, or even dessert.
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  7. Sprinkle chia on salads.
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  9. To make a “power” gel: Mix 2 tablespoons of Health Warrior Chia Seeds with 2 cups of water and whisk briskly. Let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and then whisk again before placing into the refrigerator. Use as a refreshing and filling drink.

More vegan health and lifestyle tips!

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