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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    126 comments
  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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. 🙂

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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…

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. Good morning,

    I’m researching the book “The Aztek Diet” where the main super-food is CHIA Seeds. This Diet was featured on Dr. Oz’s show several weeks ago. My question to you is, have you seen any significant weight loss since you introduced chia into your diet?

  18. I am yet to try chia seeds but having recently tried quinoa I am on a mission to find healthy alternatives and your recipes have convinced me I need to try chia! I have them on my shopping list – I find the jam recipe intriguing so that’ll be my first thing to attempt – and hopefully convince my 6 year old to try it. BTW I only came across your blog by chance – loving it!

  19. No one answered the question weather this can help in weight loss?

    I saw it on our local news station, and weight loss was mentioned..hope to hear back
    Thanks

  20. Hi from Canada!
    Just discovered your blog (I was googling ACV and you came up) and I am really enjoying your entries! Actually I can really relate to your story.

    I bought this chia/hemp/buckwheat seed cereal called Holy Crap (http://holycrap.ca/) for my mother-in-law as a fun gag Christmas gift, because she is celiac. We all got to taste it and it’s actually really delicious! Even my husband has started eating it too, and he’s a picky eater 😀

    Anyway, thanks for your blog and keep it up!

  21. This is made with the Nutribullet but if you don’t have one you can soak the Chia seeds into a semi gel and use a coffee bean grinder to grind up the almonds although they may not “blend” into the “smoothie” and then blend the rest in your blender with 2/3 cup of water and 1 leaf of Kale.

    The recipe is from the Nutribullet Blog and belongs to Krista at Nutribuller RD (http://nutribulletblog.com/pineapple-xpress)

    “Pineapple Xpress
    Here’s what you need:
    •Kale (fill tall cup to 50%)
    •1 banana
    •16 almonds (this is an EXACT science, ok?)
    •chia seeds (up to a tablespoon)
    •a dash of cinnamon
    •2 large pineapple chunks (including core!)
    •filtered water (to the max line)

    All it takes is a quick spin with the extractor blade, and the Pineapple Xpress is off!”

    • Only at SOME Costco locations; after reading this one, I went to my Tucson location and asked about it; was told that they are not being offered in this region (So.AZ & San Diego area). He also said that it would be in a cycle of rotation with other such items, wherever it’s being offered at Costco, and therefore, would not be available continuously. Those who shop regularly at Costco are accustomed to various items being offered on a rotating basis. SO, if you DO see it at your Costco, grab the opportunity and buy enough to last awhile, so you won’t run out before it’s available there again.

    • They might. I saw on the Dr. OZ show how they may help with weight loss. Since they thicken up and form a gel – if taken before meals with a glass full of water, it with thicken up and you’ll feel fuller faster when eating.

  22. I would love to incorporate chia seeds into baked goods, but I’m not quite sure how…can I just take a recipe and add chia seeds, or do you have to alter the recipe otherwise? Do you have any favorites?

  23. I absolutely love this recipe… I only discovered this blog last week while looking for other things to do with my chia seeds besides drinking them. There is so many things I want to try… Thanks for the recipe.

  24. I tried this recipe today, using vanilla soymilk and a little coconut milk from Silk……and it tastes great! My mind is still trying to get around the “crunch” from the chia seeds in the middle of gooey goodness, but it still tastes good. Thank you for this recipe!

  25. I’m still using Chia seeds every morning in my mix, but you CAN teach an old dog a new trick, and I am letting them sprout overnight now and not grinding them up. They’re fine that way, and I also have been using the dark seeds as well as the light ones. The other evening, I discovered another way to use them; I needed something light to eat before going to bed, so I took a couple spoons of the sprouted seeds and mixed them into a small cup of applesauce, and a spoonful of plain cinnamon (no sweetener needed), and mixed it up well; it was delicious! So I fixed up the rest of the applesauce the same way and put it back in the frig for later. It’s great, and not ‘seedy’ at all. I love it.

  26. Great idea and recipe – thanks so much for sharing. And, lovely photo. Will def. make this soon and let you know what i think. Question – the oats are just added raw, right? Tx!

  27. I was wondering if this recipe would still work with Whey Protein Powder…I recently came off 13 weeks of eating vegetarian and would like to go back to some animal protein for a bit – I do not always eat vegetarian…that may sound weird, but I am a Holistic Nutritionist who just believes in consuming whole foods however my body wants at that time. I never turn away any style of eating, I just eat however makes me feel good…

  28. I love chia! My favorite quick breakfast is to take sprouted chia gel (1 tablespoon organic chia seeds in 8 ounces of water, let it sit at room temp for 24 hours) and 1 scoop Sun Warrior rice protein (I like the vanilla flavor) and mix with enough water to make it drinkable. It gives me plenty of energy until lunchtime. Sprouting the chia seeds before consumption, as with other seeds, increases their nutrient content and ORAC value exponentially. Give it a shot!

  29. I’ve been eating chia seeds for years now; initially, when they were ‘new’ to us here in the US, the only place I could get them was on a subscription service, delivered monthly, and they were expensive. When they started becoming popular, I could get them for less and in more places. However, from that early experience, I was taught that the white chia seeds are far superior to the dark ones, in all their important constituent levels (protein, omega-3’s, etc). So all this time, I’ve always made sure I bought the white ones (actually beige color), and I’ve always ground them up. I keep them in the freezer till ready to add to my protein/fiber/anti-oxidant mix, made in large batches but which is then ground up in small batches that I keep in the frij and use up in a week or so. When I use the mix, I add liquid coconut oil (2.5 oz) as the last ingredient and blend it in my Magic Bullet (the best thing I’ve ever used for this). I also add an ounce of apple cider vinegar (the real thing, unpasteurized/unflitered), for all its health benefits. There are many ingredients, including hemp protein, whey protein, beet powder, cocoa, stevia, xylitol, flax seeds, brewers yeast, cinnamon, psyllium, and spirulina. I’m considering lowering the coconut oil amount and replacing it with hemp oil. When I blend it up, I also add vitamin C crystals, a raw egg, a mixture of Acai, Blueberry, & Pomegranate juices and Chyawanprash, all of this mixed in with the apple cider vinegar and kept in the frij for easy use. The base is a high quality protein drink in chocolate. The resulting drink is thick and rich, and lasts me most of the day, till dinner time. I have used some variation of this recipe for several years now, and very rarely skip it. The coconut oil has detoxed my fatty areas, so that the appearance of cellulite is much reduced. My skin is very clear and I have no thyroid issues (although I started using Thyroid Nascent Iodine last year and it has dramatically reduced my hair loss, initially suggesting that I may have been hyprothyroid, but I don’t think so now. We just don’t get the necessary amounts of the right kind of iodine in our diets any more, and it is important for so many reasons, not the least of which is supporting the thyroid gland so that it is able to continue optimal function and produce adequate thyroid hormone). That’s another thing; I have also recently added unrefined sea salt (Redman’s for now) to my smoothie each day, for thyroid support and to assist in the detox pathways. For more thyroid info, google Dr. David Brownstein; he has authored very informative books on this subject and is currently one of the most informed source on thyroid issues (of which there are few, as this has been a much-neglected area of allopathic medicine, and the most commonly used test to detect it is next to worthless), and is educating many doctors and health care practitioners about hypothyroidism, thyroid issues, and the importance of biologic iodine in the human body.
    So, I am interested to learn if the Salvia Blanca truly is superior to the dark chia seeds; the dark ones are more readily available and quite a bit less costly. I’ve also noticed that the white seeds do indeed have a stronger flavor than what I’m reading here on this blog about the dark seeds; they are not flavorless in my opinion, and have a trace of flavor that reminds me of fish oil when used in larger amounts; I wondered if that was due to its higher omega-3 content, a quality it shares with the cold-water oily fish from which the good fish oils derive. For this reason, I have chosen to not use it in baking, nor as a gel to add to mild-flavored recipes (as opposed to soups, stews, and more robust-flavored items). I also really do not like eating the dark chia seeds, which stick in my teeth so badly and then are so visible and obvious if I don’t check thoroughly after eating them. I always use them ground up. Wishing all of you good health! melissa

  30. I had some chia seeds in my fridge from reading about them somewhere else. Your post inspired me to eat them again! I’ve used them the past 2 mornings in overnight oatmeal. I’m glad to know what else you can use them for too – smoothies, etc. Yep, so much easier than flax seeds (which I also have in the fridge put don’t get used as much as they should because of having to grind them).

    I just found your blog and have enjoyed reading for the past few days.

  31. I get in my daily dose of chia in the morning.
    I’ll add it to smoothies (though don’t let them sit too long, or you’ve got ‘smoothie pudding”!), make a cereal with chia, hemp seeds and home-germinated buckwheat (you can buy a commercial version of this, but it’s so easy to make at home), I also will cook up some amaranth or oatmeal or quinoa with extra water, then turn off the heat and stir in some chia seeds to absorb the extra water.

  32. You know, as much as there is going around about chia seeds and how great they are, this is the first time I actually have read about them! Thanks for the info, I am going to have to try them now! This pudding looks and sounds delicious! I love any sort of pudding with a consistency like rice or tapioca pudding so I have a feeling I would love your recipe, and what a great way to introduce chia :)!

  33. Another timely post! When I couldn’t find hemp seeds at the store last weekend, I almost bought chia seeds… are they a good protein-rich alternative to hemp seeds?? I can’t find hemp in my tiny town but chia seeds are weirdly abundant. Help!

  34. I must confess that the description of the seeds forming a gel consistency keeps me far from them. I can’t get past that and wish I could because they sure do have a lot going for them.

    PS – Can’t wait to see you again in TWO WEEKS!

  35. Chia seeds are great – I would love to consume them more often, but alas, they aren’t cheap. I’ve never seen them in bulk here, so that’s probably why I think they are on the pricier side 😉 But they are a fun addition to anyone’s diet, that’s for sure.

  36. I just came across your blog and got sucked in 🙂 I have chia seeds but never quite knew what to do with them. This helps so much… now I have a few ideas. I have already had them with oatmeal, but am anxious to try some other variations!

  37. I recently tried Chia seeds since I heard all this hype about them, but I’m having a hard time getting past the “sliminess” of them.. The texture most people love about them frankly creeps me out a little.. I may try them in baking instead!

  38. I wish I could get on board with chia seeds, but I think the texture wouldn’t work for me. I don’t like seeds in my jam, and I have a feeling this would be like that. 🙁

    • Melissa, did you know that you can grind them up? It works really well, actually. Also, as the seeds absorb the fluid, the swell and get very soft, so they’re not like the seeds in your jam. They’re too good for you to pass up, with so much to offer.

  39. I LOVE chia seeds too! Lately I’ve just been mixing them with my coconut water and spirulina… chug chug chug and I’m one happy camper! =)

  40. Funny story… co-worker eats chia seeds a lot. One day she went into her bathroom and had a chia plant growing out of her sink. A seed must have gotten stuck in the drain after she brushed her teeth or something. She said she just about peed in her pants when she saw the plant.

  41. I haven’t had chi-chi-chi-chiaaaaa seeds in so long! You inspired me with this post, I made a lunchtime stop at Whole Foods and guess what I grabbed outta the bulk bins 🙂 Yay! Oh, let me know if you are around this weekend and want to meetup maybe grab some lunch/dinner or something!

  42. Been meaning to pick up some chia seeds for months now, and this post was perfect timing. I went to Ellwoods @ lunch and they were all out! Maybe your post had a lot of people running out to grab some : )

  43. I’ve been wanting to try out chia seeds for ages now, so after reading this blog I think I will definitely go and buy some! Is there a difference between having the seeds and having the powder?

  44. I carry them around with me ( along with teabags, protein powder and almonds) in a little packets in my handbag- incase of emergency!!!

  45. These are totally next on my list of things to get along with some maca. I’m trying to ease into all the “add in’s” I buy because there are so many I want to try! Thank you for such a detailed post on what they are!

  46. Chia seeds go great in overnight oatmeal, but I also love them sprinkled in hummus and even on a PB&J sandwich – they give it an extra kick.

  47. perfect timing! i recently started blending my own smoothies every morning before work & i’ve noticed that many of the smoothie recipes i come across online include chia seeds. i was just telling the bf this morning i should look up why they’re so popular and here it is! 🙂 thanks for sharing..

    also, Holly @ RUST BELT RUNNER poses an interesting question. what *is* the ans to that?

  48. I, too, love chia seeds. I’ve only used them in yogurt, oatmeal and granola, so these ideas are fantastic! I’ll definitely put them to use soon! I never took the time to figure out what the gel is used for, so versatile!

  49. I’m not sure if you will be able to answer this so I’m just posing a hypothetical…

    I used to eat flaxseeds until I hear that unless you bit on the seeds while eating them, they basically just get swallowed whole and go through your system. I now buy ground flax to get the full benefits.

    My initial thought on the chia seed is the same. Except for maybe using it in a granola bar you bite into. In the oats or smoothie the seed is mostly just going to get swallowed and basically go in your body and come right out.

    • Hi Holly – you are correct that flaxseeds need to be ground to get the full nutritional benefit. Despite their texture, chia seeds have a soft and tender outer seed coat so you don’t need to grind chia seeds before eating or cooking with them to get the nutrients. 🙂

  50. I’ve yet to try chia seeds, but I know I need to. I’m always looking for ways to get more Omega-3s!

  51. Thanks for this great post! I actually purchased a container of chia seeds over a year ago and am not sure if I should get rid of them or not. I want to start eating them again but I’m not sure how to tell if they’ve gone bad.

  52. Our kids think they are crunchy and interesting; we like adding some to milk and in banana bread, muffins and on cereal

  53. I’m a chia seed lover through and through. I’m actually on vacation and without them right now and it’s KILLING me! Yogurt just doesn’t taste the same without them 🙂

    • I take a jar (a large brown spice jar I bought at a co-op) of chia seeds with me on travels, so I can add it to juice or water.

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