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.
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 Potassium – Two 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?