Are chia seeds worth the hype?

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR HEALTH - WITH AUTHOR AND NU­TRI­TIONAL BIO­CHEMIST DR LIBBY Ask Dr Libby Email your ques­tions for Dr Libby to ask.dr­libby@fair­fax­me­ Please note, only a se­lec­tion of ques­tions can be an­swered. ❚ Dr Libby is a nu­tri­tional bio­chemist, best-sell­ing author and s

I’ve no­ticed that peo­ple put chia seeds in ev­ery­thing nowa­days, are they re­ally as good as peo­ple make them sound? Thanks, Ali­son.

Hi Ali­son. The rea­son they’re gain­ing in pop­u­lar­ity is due to their many nu­tri­tional ben­e­fits. They’re avail­able in two va­ri­eties; black, which nat­u­rally con­tains a com­bi­na­tion of black, grey and white seeds and white, con­tain­ing only the white seeds. Both va­ri­eties of chia have sim­i­lar nu­tri­tional ben­e­fits. One of the won­der­ful things about in­cor­po­rat­ing chia seeds into your diet is that they ba­si­cally don’t have any flavour and will ab­sorb the flavour of any­thing you pair with them.

Nu­tri­tion­ally speak­ing, chia seeds are a great veg­e­tar­ian source of omega-3 al­pha-linolenic acid – ben­e­fi­cial for the brain and heart.

Es­sen­tial fatty acids build new cells and reg­u­late var­i­ous pro­cesses of the body, but our bod­ies can­not make them in­ter­nally so we must get them from our diet. Chia seeds are also a good source of potas­sium and con­tain all of the es­sen­tial amino acids, mak­ing them a com­plete source of pro­tein. This is crit­i­cal for vege­tar­i­ans or ve­gans who have to com­bine foods to sup­ply miss­ing amino acids.

Chia seeds also con­tain good quan­ti­ties of many min­er­als such as cal­cium, phos­pho­rus and man­ganese. Phos­pho­rus is a min­eral pri­mar­ily known for its role in bone health. It works with cal­cium in or­der to boost the strength of your bones.

When con­sum­ing chia seeds it’s im­por­tant to in­crease your in­take of wa­ter, as it’s such a good source of fi­bre. You can make a chia seed gel that acts as a bind­ing agent to re­place eggs and oil in bak­ing.

They can also be ground into flour as another op­tion for gluten­free flours. You can mix them into your break­fast, add them to smooth­ies, muffins or bak­ing and of course make desserts from them. They’re even de­li­cious added to a hot lemon and gin­ger drink dur­ing the cooler months. But like any­thing, they are best con­sumed in mod­er­a­tion.

I have ter­ri­ble cir­cu­la­tion, are there any nat­u­ral ways I can sup­port this? Thanks, Fiona.

Hi Fiona. Cir­cu­la­tory is­sues can oc­cur when blood flow be­comes re­stricted to cer­tain parts of the body for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons. Al­though it can af­fect any part of your body, usu­ally peo­ple no­tice it in their ex­trem­i­ties – the toes or fin­gers. Here are a num­ber of ways you can sup­port healthy cir­cu­la­tion:


Reg­u­lar move­ment helps to boost your cir­cu­la­tion, it’s re­ally im­por­tant to find ac­tiv­i­ties that you en­joy do­ing. Any type of move­ment that gets your blood pump­ing will be ben­e­fi­cial for your cir­cu­la­tion. If your cir­cu­la­tion is al­ready com­pro­mised, start by introducing some gen­tle ex­er­cise like tai chi.


Gin­ger, sim­i­lar to spicy pep­pers, can help blood flow, as can

turmeric root, which also has anti-in­flam­ma­tory prop­er­ties. Turmeric con­tains curcumin, which is a won­der­ful an­tiox­i­dant and as­sists blood flow.


Eating a diet rich in vi­ta­min C con­tain­ing foods such as cap­sicums, cit­rus fruit, broc­coli and pa­paya is im­por­tant for vas­cu­lar health, which in turn im­proves cir­cu­la­tion. Al­ter­na­tively you can sup­ple­ment with vi­ta­min C.


Herbal medicine of­fers a num­ber of ap­proaches. Ginkgo biloba is a herb renowned for its blood-flow en­hanc­ing ef­fects, it can be taken in tablet or liq­uid form.

Chia seeds are a great veg­e­tar­ian source of omega-3 al­pha-linolenic acid.

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