Last updated: August 19, 2021

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Today we want to tell you about a powerful seed: chia. This is a plant commonly found in Central American countries, whose seeds have been exploited worldwide thanks to its incredible high fibre properties that allow the rapid absorption of carbohydrates, thus preventing their transformation into sugars that are harmful to the body.

But enough beating around the bush, in this article we will get to the point (literally) and you will learn all about the properties and benefits of chia, as well as the most outstanding products on the market today, with which you can enjoy all its benefits. Stay with us and find out more!




Summary

  • Chia is a seed from the plant of the same name. It is loaded with protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and omega 3, 6 and 9 that will provide benefits in many aspects, such as cardiovascular health, weight loss, improved digestion, among others,
  • The most common and well-known chia seed is black, but you should be very careful if you notice that its shade is closer to brown or yellow. Here you will learn the difference between the two and why you should prefer one over the other.
  • Before formalising your purchase, make sure you know all the chia presentations you can find, the healthy colours the seeds can have, the type of packaging you are going to buy and the amount of product contained, according to your needs.

The Best Chia: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Chia seeds can become the perfect accompaniment to your dishes, thanks to their versatile ability to combine with many of them. We've already met some lovely products, now let's delve a little deeper into this magical seed, why and how to get it.

Chia seeds can be added to your healthy desserts, such as yoghurt or fruits (Photo: dolgachov / 123rf)

What is chia and what are its benefits?

Chia is the name given to the plant that provides the seeds that have become so desirable thanks to their extensive nutritional value. It offers polyunsaturated fatty acids that are of great benefit to the body and can be combined with a wide variety of foods.

Some of these can be bread, yoghurt, cakes, pastries, salads, fruit and anything else you can imagine. The benefits are many, but here is a brief summary of the main ones you will get when you buy chia seeds and other chia-based products.

Advantages
  • Easy to find
  • Can be added to various foods
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Aids digestion
  • Suitable for dietary regimes
  • Protects bones
Disadvantages
  • Some containers do not offer airtight sealing
  • Not recommended if you take blood thinners
  • If you have heart conditions, you should consult your doctor first

Black or brown chia - what should you look out for?

You may not have noticed that there are various shades when it comes to chia. Chia seeds are known for their black (and sometimes even white) colour, but you may come across chia seeds that are more inclined towards brown. Before purchasing, consider the following:

Black chia. The perfect crop of chia seeds can be determined mainly by their prominent black colour. This indicates that it is mature and rich in all its properties, such as minerals and proteins.

The high quality of black chia seeds is also determined by their cleaning and purification process, which should ensure that you have a neat product, free of weeds, leaves, soil and anything else other than seeds. Pay attention to this detail before making your purchase.

Brown chia. When the seed has a yellowish or brownish hue, it is possibly because it comes from a deficient harvest, so its quality is low and its properties are considerably reduced.

In this case, the seed is immature, perhaps due to external conditions. If the seeds have a brown to yellow colouring, it is preferable to discard them, as they may not have undergone a thorough cleaning and purification process. They may contain traces of weeds, grasses, leaves and other particles.

Black chia Brown chia
Cleanliness Complete Incomplete
Properties High in minerals, proteins, vitamins and omega Lower in minerals, proteins, vitamins and omega
Quality High Low
Maturity Mature Not mature
Harvest Poor Deficient

What are the properties of chia?

Chia has been classified as a superfood, like others such as amaranth and quinoa, thanks to its many beneficial properties in various aspects. Here is a brief summary of the most important ones in the short and long term.

Great beauty ally. Not only are we talking about the large amount of antioxidants that delay and reduce premature ageing (slowing down free radical activity by up to 70%), but it also produces a feeling of satiety and reduces cravings for sweets, which helps us to eat smaller portions.

It optimises digestion and bowel function. The fibre present in chia (mucilages) in contact with water causes the chia to increase in size in the digestive tract and this causes an improvement in intestinal movement and prevents constipation. It also facilitates the expulsion of faeces.

Protects your heart. Chia contains omega 3, 6 and 9. When we talk about omega 3, it is a component with antithrombotic, vasodilator and anti-inflammatory properties that act as regulators of cholesterol and blood pressure. Its high fibre and beta-sitosterol content also helps in this respect.

Take care of your bones. Chia is a powerful source of calcium for the body. With just 30 grams of it, you can get 20% of your daily calcium requirement. In this way, you can protect your bones from an early age and help fight osteoporosis in later life.

Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate different chia models

Chia brings a host of benefits to your health and your body, but there are several factors that you should take into account if you want to make the most of its properties in the most convenient and effective way. You don't have to look any further, here we tell you everything.

  • Presentations
  • Seed colours
  • Type of packaging
  • Amount of product

Presentations

Although the seed version is the most common one you will see when looking for chia, there are other less common presentations, but that you may be able to enjoy or take advantage of in a better way. Here we tell you a little about them.

Seeds. Seeds represent the purest form of acquiring and consuming chia. They are the easiest version to obtain and their preparation only requires you to add them to your mixture, water or food and wait 5 or 10 minutes for them to hydrate a little. It is a good option to add to your daily meals.

Flour. This version is obtained by grinding chia seeds, so you can use it together with other types of flour to give more sustenance to your food or to create healthier desserts. All its properties are intact and your body will assimilate them more quickly.

Oil. This is usually obtained mainly from white chia seeds. Its most important properties are omega 3, 6 and 9, and its vitamin E. You can add a spoonful to your sweet or savoury foods, but you must make sure that the product is kept cold to avoid losing its benefits.

Capsules or tablets. The best thing about this option is its practicality of use, portability and storage. These are filled with chia oil, so they will basically generate the same effect in terms of its properties. It is a good option if you don't like the taste or prefer not to alter the preparation of your meals.

Seed colours

We have already mentioned that it is important to recognise when a chia seed is immature, as it will not provide the benefits to our organism that we are looking for. However, there are 2 other colours that you can find that are beneficial: black and white.

Yes, there are white chia seeds that have exactly the same properties and benefits as black chia seeds. The only difference that separates them is their colour, a variable that is used by many for aesthetic reasons, as they are mainly used in the preparation of desserts and confectionery.

Type of packaging

The type of packaging will largely define the storage quality your chia seeds can have, as well as the practicality of transportation and storage. Although there are many options, you will often find 3 types of packaging:

Jar. This is possibly the most practical option, as its lid will seal tightly or at least very tightly. These can be glass or plastic containers, and are perfect for long-term use. Try to locate options whose lids contain a dispenser, to avoid spillage.

Pouches. Bags are a good option if you want a lightweight container that you can place more conveniently in your kitchen, although not all bags are practical when it comes to storing product. If you want to buy chia in bags, try to use resealable bags so that the product is better preserved.

Box. Boxes are usually practical as long as the product is enclosed in a protective bag. If not, get it only when you are sure that the product will be kept in a cool place, away from moisture. If not, prefer jarred options to ensure it retains its quality for a longer period of time.

If you are buying chia in a bag, make sure you can store it in a cool, dry environment afterwards, and prefer resealable bags. (Photo: SEMSEMS / Pixabay)

Amount of product

The amount of product in the container you choose will be an important decision depending on the use you decide to make of it. If you want to use it sporadically as an accompaniment to your food, you can opt for containers with a small quantity, such as 50 or 100 grams.

But if you want to make the most of its effects in several meals a week, you can opt for larger jars or bags to avoid visiting the market so often. You will find options ranging from 200 grams to 1 kilogramme, ideal also for those who use it commercially in snacks, dishes and desserts.

(Featured image photo: Stephanie Frey / 123rf)

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