The chia seed may seem simple, but don’t be fooled by its small size. These tiny seeds are actually quite impressive. They’re packed with healthy nutrients and offer some amazing health benefits. Popular in many plant-based diets, you can enjoy them with breakfast, as a snack, or even with dessert.
We’ve made it simple to take advantage of all they have to offer with our list of 12 easy ways to eat chia seeds.
What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are edible seeds harvested from Salvia hispanica, a species of flowering plant in the mint family, that’s native to Guatemala and parts of Mexico. They are small and round, and can be black, brown, or white in color.
For the ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures, chia seeds were a big part of their daily diet. They also used them during religious rituals, to create cosmetics, and for medicinal purposes. In fact, chia seeds have been heralded for their health benefits for centuries and are still popular all over the world.
Now, with the backing of modern science, we know just how right those ancient civilizations were.
Chia Seed Nutritional Info
Chia seeds pack a serious nutritional punch. Here is what just one serving of chia seeds, about 2.5 tablespoons, contains:
- 140 calories
- 10 grams of fiber
- 5 grams of protein
- 9 grams of fat
- 12 grams of carbohydrates
- 5 grams of alpha linolenic acid
- 12% of the daily value (DV) of iron
- 12% of the DV of zinc
- 20% of the DV of phosphorus
- 23% of the DV of magnesium
- 14% of the DV of calcium
- 15% of the DV of vitamin B1
- 16% of the DV of vitamin B3
5 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds aren’t just incredibly rich in a variety of nutrients, they also offer some amazing health benefits.
- Heart healthy – Chia seeds contain plenty of heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, which can help to lower your risk of heart disease. They also contain soluble fiber which can reduce your LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. Some studies have even shown that eating chia seeds may reduce your blood pressure.
- Support strong bones – Chia seeds contain magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium, all of which help to support strong bones. Getting enough of these nutrients can help you build bone mineral density and strength.
- Loaded with antioxidants – These impressive seeds contain five types of antioxidants that benefit your health as well as protect the delicate fats they contain. Each one plays a specific role, such as protecting your heart and your liver, lowering your blood sugar, and reducing the risk of cancer and inflammation.
- Improve blood sugar – If you deal with low blood sugar, regularly eating chia seeds may help. Various studies have shown that they may stabilize your blood sugar levels after a meal by improving insulin sensitivity.
- Can support weight loss – If you’re trying to lose weight, adding chia seeds to your diet may help. High levels of fiber and protein can keep you fuller for longer and reduce your appetite. While they won’t cause weight loss on their own, they are a great way to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.
Can You Eat Chia Seeds Raw?
Before you toss a handful of raw chia seeds into your mouth, you may want to pause. Simply chewing them like any other seed or nut is not the best way to eat them. In fact, eating them on their own can cause some gastric distress.
Chia seeds are super soakers, absorbing up to 30 times their own weight in liquid. When you eat them raw, they will soak up all the liquid in your stomach and intestines as you digest them, expanding in size as they go. This could lead to digestive pain or blockages if you’re not careful.
So, to avoid any potential problems, be sure to grind them up into a fine powder or add them to foods that contain liquid before you eat them.
12 Easy Ways to Eat Chia Seeds
These 12 easy ways to eat chia seeds include helpful ways to add them to your diet as well as delicious, simple recipes.
- Eat products that contain chia seeds – Chia seeds are in many products you’ll find in your grocery aisles. If you check the labels, you may find them in some of your favorite foods. There’s also chia kombucha, chia granola, and even chia pudding.
- Creamy Strawberry Chia Seed Smoothie (Fit Foodie Finds) – A deliciously cold and fruity way to start your day with strawberries, bananas, Greek yogurt, and of course, chia seeds!
- Mix them in – Mix a spoonful of chia seeds into your smoothie, pudding, dips, pancakes, or a bowl of oatmeal. You can also add them to baked goods by stirring them into your dough or batter.
- Chia Seed Pancakes (Running on Real Food) – These vegan pancakes are simple to make and only require a few basic ingredients.
- Sprinkle them on – What’s easier than sprinkling them on top of your favorite foods? Add a dash of chia seeds to yogurt, cereal, rice dishes, salads, or cooked vegetables.
- Cucumber Lime Chia Fresca (Onion Rings & Things) – Freshly-squeezed lime juice and cucumbers combine with chia seeds to create a hydrating aqua fresca.
- Make chia water or juice – When added to water or juice, chia seeds have a similar texture to boba or tapioca. To make your own glass, add ¼ cup of chia seeds to four cups of water or juice and soak for 20-30 minutes. Then add your favorite chopped fruit or squeeze in juice from an orange, lemon, or lime.
- Banana Chia Seed Muffins (April J Harris) – Fluffy and sweet, you’d never know these banana muffins contain chia seeds!
- Make chia pudding – Chia pudding is simple to make and delicious to eat. Start by making chia water and let it soak longer, around 60 minutes, until it thickens. You can then add milk, cocoa, or vanilla extract, and blend it for an even smoother consistency.
- Chia Seed Tortillas (Sweet as Honey) – These tasty tortillas are the perfect substitute for high-carb wraps or bread.
- Coat meat or fish – You can use chia seeds as a crispy crumb coating on meat or fish. Start by grinding them up into a powder, then mix them into your breadcrumb of choice.
- Maple Cinnamon Chia Pudding (Rachel Cooks) – Delicious fall flavors make this chia pudding an ideal recipe for the cooler months.
Ready for a nutritional boost? You can reap all the benefits by following these 12 easy ways to eat chia seeds.
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