Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Learn more about the health benefits of chia seeds, a powerful superfood that has been shown to promote weight loss, strengthen bones and reduce inflammation. 

As many long-time EBF readers know, I LOVE eating chia seeds and think they are awesome. My sister texted me a few nights ago asking for more info about them, which made me realize I needed to write a full post on why I’m so obsessed. If you’re in the health and wellness space you’ve probably heard of chia seeds and know that they’re good for you, but maybe you don’t know why or how much you should be eating. So let’s get right into it.

mason jar filled with chia seeds

Ch-ch-ch-chia! <– I had to do it! Yes, these tiny seeds are the same seeds used to grow those chia pets that were popular in the 80s-90s. Yes, you can still plant them and make yourself a little chia pet.

What are chia seeds?

“Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. In pre-Columbian times they were a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and were the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors. I’ve read that one tablespoon was believed to sustain an individual for 24 hours. The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.” Quoted from Dr.Weil

What do chia seeds taste like?

The flavor is very mild and almost non-existent. When they are combined with liquid they start to form a gel-like consistency, so if you were to eat them plain the gelling process will start in your mouth… not really ideal. They’re much better mixed in things like smoothies or oatmeal.

What are the health benefits of chia seeds?

They’re a good source of:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning that you need to get from food sources because your body cannot produce them itself. Omega 3’s reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. They’re also said to help with weight reduction related to their regulation of blood sugar levels and insulin.
  • Plant-based protein – We all know protein is an essential macronutrient needed for many functions in the body, including muscle building.
  • Antioxidants Anti-oxidants help rid our body of free radicals, which have been linked to cancer and heart disease.
  • Fiber – Helps with weight loss by keeping you feeling full, prevents constipation and enhances regularity.
  • Magnesium and PotassiumTwo minerals needed for good health.

How much chia should I eat daily?

For general purposes of health, nutrition and energy an adult would typically consume about 1-2 tbsp of chia seeds daily.

What are the nutritional facts?

1 Tablespoon of dry seeds have about 60 calories, 5 g of Fat, 6 g of Carbohydrate, 6 g of Fiber, 3 g of Protein

Where do you buy chia seeds?

I’ve found them at my local health food store (Ellwood Thompson’s) and at Whole Foods. They are becoming mainstream so most grocery stores now carry them. Check in the natural food section, in the bulk bins or with the supplements.

What brand do you buy?

Typically I try to buy chia seeds from the bulk bins because that’s where they are the cheapest but I’ll order them online occasionally as well. 

So, how do you eat them?

  • Make chia gel! Chia absorbs 9 times its weight in water, which is the reason behind the 9:1 ratio most people talk about. For thicker or thinner gel, you can adjust the ratio accordingly. 1/3 cup of chia seeds would absorb 3 cups of water, but for a thinner gel that absorbs faster you could also do 1/3 cup of chia seeds to 2 cups of water or other liquid. You simply mix together the chia seeds and water. Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes, stirring with a whisk to prevent clumping. The gel can be stored in the fridge for two weeks and used as a thickener in soups and smoothies, as a egg replacement in baked goods or a binder in bean patties or meat loafs. Chia seeds are great for vegan cooking!
  • Drink them! Add chia seeds to water, juice or any other hot/cold drink. Leave them in the liquid for about two minutes before drinking so they absorb some of the liquid.
  • Sprinkle them on anything and everything you’d like!

So I’ve been using these chia seeds as I normally would by adding them to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, overnight oats, granola bars and baked goods (like these protein bars). I love the little bit of crunch that they add, as well as the thick gel like consistency that forms when they’re combined with liquid. Chia seeds are much easier to use than flax seeds because you don’t have to grind them to make the “gel” or absorb the nutrients.

Have you tried chia seeds? What are your thoughts?

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    128 comments
    1. Arica Drake
      June 27, 2020 AT 10:40 am

      Ok I have never tried them but I’m eager to try them it sound like this a pray being answerto my weight problem. Thank you

    2. Suna
      July 27, 2019 AT 12:09 am

      I love ALL your recipes and your Instagram chats.
      Thank you so much for sharing.
      I live in Hermanus,South Africa.I was a Personal Trainer for 20 years and therefore very interested in healthy eating.
      Your recipes are all fantastic and so do-able.
      I am going to try your chia pudding today!Will send you feedback!
      Have a great weekend!

    3. Thomas
      March 10, 2017 AT 6:22 pm

      I’m a big consumer of chia and flax seed which I put through a spice grinder, together with some baking soda, salt and one packet of sweetener. I add this to one beaten egg white and water and stir it together to sit before adding whole oat flour, whole barley flour and buckwheat flour. I bake this ball of dough on my George Foreman grill for about eight minutes and end up with a flat “breadlike thing” which smells and tastes great with natural crunchy peanut butter. Makes a nourishing and very satisfying breakfast!

    4. Jeanne McLaughlin
      January 30, 2016 AT 4:47 pm

      Please begin including sodium content in your nutritioal info. Many of us have to watch our sodium intake

      1. Angie
        January 18, 2020 AT 7:31 pm

        There is no sodium in chia seeds

    5. roxana
      September 29, 2014 AT 6:37 pm

      The recipe is for one serving?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 29, 2014 AT 9:01 pm

        Hi Roxana. It’s 1-2 servings depending on how hungry you are and when you’re eating it. I added the nutritional info to the recipe to help you decide based on your needs. 🙂

    6. Advices
      June 15, 2014 AT 3:39 pm

      Great article about chia seeds! I will include chia seeds into my diet!

    7. Elizabeth
      March 17, 2014 AT 12:46 pm

      I didn’t see anyone had asked this yet, but I am trying to figure out how much chia pudding is safe to consume per day. You said 1-2Tbsp dry, but the recipe for the pudding uses 1/4 cup. Is it ok then to eat all the pudding in the recipe? I’m new to eating chia and made a big batch of pudding but don’t want to overdose on it the first day eating it! Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    8. robin
      January 11, 2014 AT 7:32 pm

      I drink chia seeds mixed with my homebrewed water kefir. Its a little fruity a little fizzy, and is packed with probiotics. Its the best drink and it keeps you filled up with all the great jelled seeds. Great start to the day!

    9. Soraya
      December 26, 2013 AT 9:58 am

      WoW Thanks for the great information! 🙂 Makes me want to get the seeds at store right now!

    10. Tracey
      December 12, 2013 AT 1:24 pm

      I have found it incredibly easy to incorporate chia seeds into my diet. I sprinkle it on dry cereal, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, apple sauce, yogurt, etc. I have also been known to just “dip” a banana in a pile of seeds.
      Love the added texture.

    11. Katrina
      October 14, 2013 AT 10:32 pm

      I put chia seeds on my toast with peanut butter and banana in the morning! So good! They’re also FANTASTIC in omelettes to help bind a little better. If you’re in Canada… Bulk Barn sells them (no, they’re not organic)… but a full container is only about $4.00! Amazing!

    12. Shanna
      September 8, 2013 AT 1:16 pm

      Is this supposed to be one serving? I ask because you say 1-2 tbsp daily and this contains 1/4 cup.

    13. Judy
      August 31, 2013 AT 8:28 pm

      I recently made Jello and added chia seeds to it after I had poured the liquid into dishes. Pretty much all of the seeds settled to the bottom. I’m thinking I should let the Jello setup a bit then add the seeds and stir. Any other suggestions as to how I could get my seeds to stay dispersed in the gelatin?

    14. reyna
      August 2, 2013 AT 3:26 pm

      Can I use soy milk instead of almond milk for the pudding

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 2, 2013 AT 3:40 pm

        Sure. It will work just the same. 🙂

    15. Joyce
      July 24, 2013 AT 5:33 pm

      I bought some chia seeds today and have put them in some water to soak till tomorrow. I want to make a smoothie with blueberries and bananas. I can’t wait to enjoy it. Love your blog, don’t know how I got here but just love it. Thanks a million.

    16. Bernadette Rennie
      July 16, 2013 AT 9:26 pm

      Tried chia seeds for the first time today in a protein shake. Loved them 🙂 Will be using them on a regular basis from now on. 🙂

    17. Vanessa Alexandra
      July 7, 2013 AT 2:11 pm

      Brittany, I completely agree. Chia seeds are a huge help to keeping healthy. I generally mix 1-2 tablespoons with water and a bit of fresh squeezed lemon. It makes for a good breakfast when I know I am going to be taxed for a long day.

    18. Melanie
      June 28, 2013 AT 6:26 pm

      The chia gel will add vital protein, omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and volume (in the form of water) to your food thus making whatever it is you add it to
      much more filling and satisfying. Current research at Appalachian State University is focusing on the role of chia seeds on artery
      health. Beans and whole grains include dietary fiber, which might aid reduce cholesterol levels
      inside the blood stream.

    19. Leslie
      June 26, 2013 AT 1:49 am

      I love chia but I don’t know if I am eating way to much I don’t like to drink water and since I started drinking water with chia everything change and I think I use more then 5 tbsp a day does any one knows if its bad

    20. Judy
      June 4, 2013 AT 4:23 am

      Heard about Chia seeds yesterday and went out and bought some. Didn’t know what to do with them so added to water and ate the resulting gel! Today I am going for surgery so hope the chia gel helps with the recovery. Great to hear you can do so much with them. Am a real Inca fan and have added quinoa to our diet since doing the Inca Trail 11 years ago…

    21. Aaron levin
      May 12, 2013 AT 1:16 am

      Hi would you say chia is your favorite superfoos? And how much do you eat a day? Thanks

      1. Brittany Mullins
        May 12, 2013 AT 2:46 pm

        Yes. I eat 1-2 Tablespoons a day.

    22. Brandon
      April 27, 2013 AT 10:39 pm

      Love your post! I’m a long distance runner (who is also vegan) and have recently added chia seeds to my list of must-haves. I will have to try them in a smoothie to see how that works out. I’ve heard that you will definitely need a spoon to eat it though. Anyway, I like to mix chia seed, filtered water, and coconut water (50/50 h20-cocoH20) into a water bottle and take it with me on my long runs. I believe there is something magical about these little kernels. Like you said, brings on a warrior feeling, lol. Maybe I’ve just read to much into it, but I really think they give me more energy and assist my body in recovery before I’m even done with my run. I did a complete write-up of chia seeds here:
      http://www.forkstofeet.com/2013/03/what-are-chia-seeds.html
      I still haven’t tried them but one time in their dry form. I guess I could sprinkle them on salads. I may go ahead and try adding them to my kale smoothies. Thanks for the suggestions and I look forward to reading more from “Eating Bird Food” – Love the name!

    23. Tamar
      April 12, 2013 AT 7:14 pm

      Just curious: do chia seeds still make the gel if they’re dried or roasted?

    24. Maria
      March 26, 2013 AT 7:49 am

      I’ve never heard of chia seeds before. They look very versatile so I think will add them to my breakfast oats are add to a fruit smoothie. I live in the UK so I’m not sire if there are any local suppliers. I better get looking!

      Great post btw!

    25. Zaza
      March 10, 2013 AT 9:39 pm

      I tried the chia pudding recipe today and it was delicious. I only had regular vanilla almond milk (not unsweetened) so I decided to leave out the stevia. It was really good. Thank you for the recipe. BTW, I really love your website and will definitely try more of your recipes, you have inspired me.

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