It’s inarguable that modern diets are woefully short of Omega 3 – an essential fatty acid most commonly consumed in the form of oily fish. Its use has long been associated with a range of impressive sounding health benefits including blood pressure reduction and, perhaps more importantly for cyclist, reducing inflammation throughout the body, which in turn brings biomechanical gains during exercise.
One of the latest ‘superfoods’ to market, packed to the brim with Omega 3, protein, antioxidants and fibre is Chia; cultivated for centuries by the Aztecs and tribes of the Southwest of America it was once so highly prized as to have been used as currency. The Chia Co actually produce all of their products in Australia (a similarly ideal climate) and follow a broadly environmental regime for minimal global impact.
The seeds themselves (or the oil, which is also available) can be used in many ways – added to smoothies or breakfast cereals, baked into flapjacks or homemade energy bars, sprinkled on salads or added to a variety of recipes, many of which are available on the company website. Eaten alone they have relatively little taste, slightly nutty – rather like a bland sunflower seed.
Usually we wouldn’t hesitate in recommending a natural ingredient that contains so many potential health benefits; however recent studies (particularly those led out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center [sic] in America) have suggested a link between Omega 3 fatty acids and an increased risk of prostate cancer. In actual fact most of the ‘links’ are the result of media misrepresentation and a lack of understanding of results (by the press) but if you want to do your own research then the abstract from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that inadvertently kick-started it all can be found here. Chia is certainly a potent source with much to recommend it.
Chia is available in a variety of pack sizes from 8g ‘shot’ packs (£4.79 for ten) to 1kg jars at £19.29 – further details and the new UK online shop can be found at thechiaco.com.au