Chia seeds are tiny, brown, black or white seeds. They are almost as small as poppy seeds. They come from a plant in the mint family. Chia seeds deliver several important nutrients in just a few calories and a small package.
You can eat this nutty-flavored seed in many ways.
WHY THEY ARE GOOD FOR YOU
Chia seeds are rich in fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants that help prevent cell damage.
Chia seeds are a good source of insoluble fiber. The seeds expand quite a bit and form a gel when they come into contact with water. This gel adds bulk to your stool, which keeps bowel movements regular and helps prevent constipation. The added bulk also may help you feel fuller so you eat less.
Just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds will give you 20% of your recommended daily fiber.
Chia seeds are also rich in the essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6. Essential fatty acids are fatty substances that your body needs to function. They are not made in the body, and you must get them from foods.
Researchers are looking at the benefits of chia, in particular whether consuming more of the fatty acids found in chia seeds can improve blood pressure, heart health, and blood sugar.
HOW THEY ARE PREPARED
Chia seeds can be added or sprinkled on almost anything. There is no preparation needed -- unlike flax seed, chia seeds do not need to be ground for maximal benefit. To add chia seeds to your diet:
- Use them instead of breadcrumbs.
- Sprinkle them on salads.
- Use them in drinks, smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal.
- Add them to soups or any cooked dishes.
- Mix them in the batter of pancakes and French toast.
Chia seeds can be ground into a paste and added to your dough or other mixes before cooking or baking.
WHERE TO FIND CHIA SEEDS
Chia seeds may be purchased at any health food store, or online. Major grocery stores may also carry chia seeds in the natural or organic food aisle. Simply buy a bag of chia seeds, milled or whole.
There are many delicious recipes you can make with chia seeds. Here is one to try.
- Two tablespoons of chia seeds
- Half cup unsweetened vanilla flavored almond milk (or another nondairy milk of your choice)
- Half cup of strawberries, washed and chopped small
- Put chia seeds and the non-dairy milk of your choice in a mason jar. Make sure the lid is closed tightly. Shake to mix and leave in the refrigerator for at least four hours. The chia seeds will absorb the liquid and swell to a pudding-like consistency.
- Remove the chia pudding from the refrigerator, add the diced strawberries and enjoy.
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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. What are chia seeds? www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/what-are-chia-seeds. Updated January 25, 2021. Accessed June 10, 2022.
Vannice G, Rasmussen H. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: dietary fatty acids for healthy adults. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014;114(1):136-153. PMID: 24342605pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24342605/.
Review Date 6/22/2022
Updated by: Stefania Manetti, RD/N, CDCES, RYT200, My Vita Sana LLC - Nourish and heal through food, San Jose, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.