Salvia hispanica, or the chia plant, is a species in the mint family that is native to Central America. The seeds of this herb are known as chia seeds and they have gained popularity in recent years.
Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber, and even a little bit of protein, these tiny seeds can elevate just about any meal or snack to a nutritional powerhouse.
This is what chia seeds look like:
A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains:
- Fiber: 11 grams.
- Protein: 4 grams.
- Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
- Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
- Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
- They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.
Good Reasons To Start Eating Chia Seeds
- Help weight loss. Chia seeds are popular for weight loss. They reduce food cravings by preventing some of the food that you eat from getting absorbed into your system. This blockage of calorie absorption makes them a great diet helper.
- Feel fuller faster: They can also help your diet by making you feel full. This is because they absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel.
- Hydration for athletes: They are also great for athletes because the “chia gel” can hydrate the body.
- Reduce your blood pressure: There’s evidence to suggest they can reduce blood pressure.
- Omega-3: They are the richest plant source of Omega-3 (the vital fats that protect against inflammation—such as arthritis—and heart disease). In fact, they contain more Omega-3 than salmon!
- Benefits for diabetes: Because chia seeds slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, studies indicate they can control blood sugar. This leads scientists to believe chia seeds may have great benefits for diabetics.
- They are easier to digest than flax seeds, and don’t need to be ground up
- Dental health: With chia seeds being packed with calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin A and zinc, it’s no wonder that they are a top food to help your teeth! Calcium is the building block of your teeth and necessary for tooth health.
How to Eat Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have a mild nutty taste and can easily be added to most dishes as a garnish, yet chewing small seeds like flax or chia generally doesn’t make the omega-3’s and other nutrients readily available for digestion and assimilation. The best way to access their vitamins and minerals is to either grind or soak them.
How to Soak:
To soak chia seeds, simply mix them in a 1:10 ratio chia to water. That’s about 1.5 tablespoons chia seeds in one cup of water. It does not have to be exact, but you do want it to gel all the way and not be too watery. Then let them sit for about 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Since chia seeds can hold up to 12 times its weight in water, they are wonderful to prevent dehydration. However, if you choose not to soak them, then they can also absorb water from you during digestion. So make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated.
Uses for Chia Seeds
Make Healthy Pudding
- 2 cups of coconut milk or other milk
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder (or to taste)(optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (or to taste)
- 1 tablespoon or more sweetener of choice (optional)- We use honey or a few drops of stevia tincture
Put in a blender and blend until smooth. Will thicken in about 10 minutes in the fridge.
Plain Ol’ Chia Seeds
Even by themselves, chia seeds are a great source of nutrients and also leave you feeling full for a long time. I sometimes chew a couple tablespoons for a quick breakfast on the go, and they leave you feeling surprisingly full! They do stick to your teeth, but wash them down with some coffee and you’ll have energy for hours!
To Thicken Soup or Gravies
If you don’t use cornstarch or thickening agents, it can sometimes be a challenge to thicken different culinary creations. Just add a couple tablespoons of chia seeds (powdered or not) at a time to reach the desired thickness.
As a “Breading” for Baking Fish and Chicken
Mixed with some almond flour and garlic powder, or even by itself, Chia Seeds make an excellent “Breading” for fish or chicken. It toasts up well and provides a nutty, crunchy flavor without the grains
When gelled with your choice of milk or water and blended with a cup of fresh or frozen fruit, one tablespoon of chia seeds can add a real thickness to your go-to smoothie—not to mention a dose healthy fats, fiber, protein, and antioxidants.