Get ready to add some amazing nutrition to your food with chia seeds. This superfood is full of magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids, and protein. Chia seeds are the edible seeds of Salvia hispanica, a flowering plant in the mint family native to central and southern Mexico, or of the related Salvia columbariae of the southwestern United States and Mexico. Chia seeds are oval and gray with black and white spots, having a diameter of around 2 millimetres.
Food With Chia Seeds
Before we get into the kitchen here are a few quick notes to remember about chia seeds:
- They’re essentially flavorless so they’ll take on the flavor of whatever you pair them with.
- When combined with liquid, the chia seeds swell and create a thick, gel-like consistency
- Chia seeds don’t need to be ground (like flaxseeds) to absorb the nutrients, but you’ll occasionally see them ground for certain recipes for food with chia seeds.
1. Chia Pudding
One of my favorite ways to use chia! Similar to tapioca pudding, chia pudding has a thick, gelatinous texture. Often times the pudding will be sweetened, but you can certainly make it unsweetened as well. It can be made ahead and served for breakfast, snacks, or dessert.
Start with this basic chia pudding recipe and then experiment with some of the other flavor combinations of food with chia seeds.
- Banana Split Chia Pudding
- Kiwi Chia Pudding Parfait
- Raspberry Chia Pudding
- Strawberry Chia Pudding
- Pumpkin Chia Pudding
- Food with Chia Seeds
Food with chia seeds makes smoothies extra thick while giving them a boost of healthy fat, protein, and fiber.
- Pineapple Recovery Smoothie
- Green Detox Smoothie
- Tropical Green Smoothie
3. Chia Jam
This is really the only kind of jam I use now! The best part? Chia jam doesn’t need any additional thickening agents or added sugar. It’s super simple, comes together quickly, and tastes delicious.
- Mixed Berry Chia Seed Jam
- Easy Strawberry Chia Seed Jam
- Food with Chia Seeds
4. Protein Bars
Food with chia seeds help protein bars stick together and add a good amount of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
- Oatmeal Raisin Protein Bars
- Superfood Cereal Squares
- Curried Almond Granola Bars
5. Overnight Oats
Chia seeds are a staple in my overnight oat recipes because they make them extra thick and add a little texture.
- Chocolate Banana Overnight Oats
- Protein Overnight Oats
- Tropical Overnight Oats
- Elvis Overnight Oats
6. Stovetop and Baked Oatmeal
Just like overnight oats, chia seeds give make stovetop oats thick and voluminous for a satisfying breakfast!
- Peanut Butter Banana Chia Oatmeal
- Apple Cinnamon Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal
7. Cookies and Other Baked Goods
As I mentioned before chia seeds work great as an egg substitute. The basic recipe for a “chia egg” is 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds to 3 Tablespoons of water. Mix the chia seeds and water in a small bowl and let them sit for about 5 minutes to gel up. The mixture will become thick and gelatinous, similar to the texture of an egg.
- Chia Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
- Super Seed Chocolate Chip Cookies
8. Salads and Salad Dressing
You can sprinkle chia seeds over any salad or add chia seeds to your salad dressing to make it extra thick. They’re also a great sub for poppy seeds.
Try it yourself with this simple lemon chia dressing: 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoon chia seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon dried basil.
9. Yogurt Bowls
Sprinkling chia over yogurt is one of the easiest ways to use them! Just toss them on and dive in!
- Yogurt Breakfast Bowl with Blueberries and Toasted Coconut
- Acorn Squash Yogurt Breakfast Bowls
Enticing Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
1. Highly nutritious
Chia seeds are tiny black or white seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica L. They’re believed to be native to Central America.
Historically, Aztec and Mayan civilizations used the seeds in their diets, as well as for medicinal purposes, religious rituals, and cosmetics. Today, people all over the world enjoy chia seeds.
Ancient civilizations viewed chia seeds as highly nutritious — a belief that’s backed by modern science. In fact, just 1 ounce (28 grams or 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds contains:
- calories: 138
- protein: 4.7 grams
- fat: 8.7 grams
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): 5 grams
- carbs: 11.9 grams
- fiber: 9.8 grams
- calcium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
- iron: 12% of the DV
- magnesium: 23% of the DV
- phosphorus: 20% of the DV
- zinc: 12% of the DV
- vitamin B1 (thiamine): 15% of the DV
- vitamin B3 (niacin): 16% of the DV
This nutritional profile is particularly impressive considering that it’s for just a single serving of about two tablespoons.
Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are highly nutritious. They’re packed with fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and various micronutrients.
Chia seeds are also an excellent source of antioxidants
Chia seeds are high in antioxidants. These compounds help protect the seed’s delicate fats while also offering health benefits to humans.
The fiber and protein in chia seeds may benefit those trying to lose weight.
One ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds has close to 10 grams of dietary fiber. That means they’re a whopping 35% fiber by weight.
Although research on this topic is mixed, some studies suggest that eating fiber may play a role in preventing overweight and obesity.
Additionally, the protein in food with chia seeds could help reduce appetite and food intake.
One study in 24 participants found that eating 0.33 ounces (7 grams) or 0.5 ounces (14 grams) of chia seeds mixed with yogurt for breakfast increased feelings of fullness and reduced food intake in the short term compared with eating chia-free yogurt.
Even so, studies examining the effectiveness of chia seeds for weight loss have observed mixed results.
In an older study from 2009 involving 90 people with overweight, consuming 50 grams of chia seed supplements per day for 12 weeks did not affect body weight or health markers like blood pressure and inflammation markers.
In contrast, a 6-month study involving 77 people with overweight or obesity and type 2 diabetes eating a reduced-calorie diet found that those who took chia seeds daily experienced significantly greater weight loss than those who received a placebo.
Though adding chia seeds to your diet is unlikely to cause weight loss on its own, it may be a useful addition to a balanced, nutritious diet if you’re trying to lose weight.
Chia seeds are high in protein and fiber, both of which have been shown to aid weight loss. However, studies on chia seeds and weight loss have provided mixed results.
Given that chia seeds are high in fiber and omega-3s, consuming them may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Soluble fiber, the kind primarily found in chia seeds, can help lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood. In turn, this can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Consuming ALA, the omega-3 fatty acid in chia seeds, has also been linked to decreased heart disease risk.
Still, studies specifically examining the connection between chia seeds and heart health have had inconclusive results.
Some rat studies have shown that chia seeds can lower certain heart disease risk factors, including high triglyceride and oxidative stress levels.
A few human studies found that chia seed supplements significantly reduced blood pressure in people with hypertension, or high blood pressure, which is a strong risk factor for heart disease.
Overall, chia seeds may benefit heart health, but more research is needed.
Chia seeds may reduce the risk of heart disease, likely due to the fiber and ALA they contain. However, more human research is needed.
Chia seeds are high in several nutrients that are important for bone health, including:
Many observational studies suggest that getting enough of these nutrients is important for maintaining good bone mineral density, an indicator of bone strength.
In addition, ALA in chia seeds may play a role in bone health. Observational studies have found that consuming this nutrient could also be associated with increased bone mineral density
Therefore, it’s possible that regularly eating chia seeds could help keep your bones strong.
One animal study found that rats who received chia seeds daily for about 13 months had increased bone mineral content compared with a control group. The authors concluded that ALA may have contributed to this benefit.
However, besides animal studies, a limited number of studies have explored this topic, specifically. Ultimately, more human research is needed.
Chia seeds are high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and ALA. All of these nutrients have been linked to improved bone mineral density.
Consuming chia seeds may help with blood sugar regulation, possibly due to their fiber content and other beneficial compounds.
People with diabetes may experience high blood sugar levels. Consistently high fasting blood sugar levels are associated with an increased risk of several complications, including heart disease .
15 Awesome Ideas for How to Eat Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have come a long way since being only recognized as the little things that made those funny chia pets grow. More recently they’ve become known as the all powerful superfood that they actually are. The list of benefits for these nutrient-packed little seeds is a long one for sure: Chia seeds are a complete protein with three times more iron than spinach, double the amount of potassium than bananas, and a great source of fiber to help aid digestion. These may be tiny seeds, but the word “chia” itself means “strength,” derived from the Mayan language. So that should tell you something about how mighty they truly are!
Chia seeds can be used in a variety of different ways because of their mildly nutty flavor and great bite. Add them to a sweet dish or a savory dish to get you an extra bump of energy.
And when you’re looking to shed a few pounds they come in handy because not only do they make you feel fuller faster since they absorb 10 times their weight in water, but they also reduce food cravings. (One tablespoon of chia seeds has only 60 calories with 0 grams of sugar and 5 grams of fiber!) These are two key factors when you’re looking to boost your metabolism on a weight loss journey, so check out 15 awesome ways to use them now!
By simply combining your favorite milk with chia seeds, these puddings cannot get any easier! Chia seed pudding is a great way to start off your day or make a healthy dessert. Use 1 cup of a milk alternative like almond or coconut milk with a 3 tablespoons chia seeds, mix well, and refrigerate overnight. The golden rule for chia seed pudding: 3 tablespoons chia seeds to 1 cup milk ratio; so, if you’re looking to make a whole batch, stick to that. Mix in some fruits, nuts, coconut shavings, powders, or spices, and the options are endless!
Conjure Up a Jam
Toss those sugar-packed highly-processed jams in the trash and make your own healthy version at home. Just about every fruit can be combined with chia seeds to create an awesome flavor blasting jam. Since chia seeds turn liquid into a jelly-like matter, all you need to do is mash up your favorite juicy fruit and combine with the chia seeds. 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to every 1 cup of mashed fruit will create the best consistency without any of those unnecessary additives.
Superfoodify Your Smoothie
Adding chia seeds to any smoothie is going to increase the nutritional value and give you additional benefits. Don’t miss out on this simple way to get the most out of a smoothie! Here’s an idea of where you can start:
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 frozen banana, 1 handful spinach, 2 tablespoons cacao powder, 1 cup almond milk
How to Make It: Combine all ingredients and your preference of ice (depending on desired texture) in a blender. Mix on high for 1 minute. Check consistency and add more liquid if necessary. Blend again for 30 seconds. Enjoy this delicious smoothie and check out more weight loss smoothies you can add chia seeds into!
Add some chia seeds to your next cup of tea! About 1 tablespoon should go into every 16 fluid ounces of tea. Whether the tea is iced, hot or room temperature, its makes for a totally new texture with tons healing benefits for your health and metabolism. Try it in one of the teas found in The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse!
Tortillas made of chia seeds are light, but definitely hold up for those tasty additions. Combine 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour, 1 ½ tablespoons flax meal, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, ¼ teaspoon of baking powder, 1 tablespoon oil (coconut or olive) and ⅕ cup of water. Mix well and roll into a firm ball. Separate dough into 4 or 5 even balls and flatten. Heat a pan to medium temperature and place dough in the pan (without greasing) for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until light golden brown. Any of your favorite spices can be added to this mixture to make it sweet or savory! They can also be cut into chips and baked in the oven for another few minutes. These nutritious tortillas are so versatile and really pack in those flavors.
Lighten Up An Old Favorite
Ice cream pops are perfect for a hot summer day or a late night treat but tend to be filled with refined sugars and heavy fats. With an easy swap of ingredients, you can make those childhood favorites into a wholesome dessert. Combine your favorite berries, coconut milk, and chia seeds to pack in a healthy dose of vitamins and nutrients and not worry about any unknown ingredients. They’re effortless to make; just simply blend and freeze the mixture in ice pop trays.
Make a Crust for Your Meats and Fish
Instead of coating your meat and fish in starchy white flours, use 1 cup of cornmeal or almond meal with 1 tablespoon chia seeds to get a fat-burning crust. Get some of your favorite spices out and work those into the mix to enhance the flavors and rev up the nutrients. Use spices like turmeric and garlic powder which are both great ingredients that help lower your risk of heart disease. These should be baked, not fried, to keep in all the nutrition without overdoing the oils and fats.
Create a Protein Packed Dessert
Desserts are hard to stay away from when your sweet tooth starts screaming. But instead of reaching for those icky store-bought treats, bake up a healthy dessert and add one or two tablespoons of chia seeds. They can be added to healthy banana bread recipes, muffins, cookies, and much more to give every sweet that divine consistency and a bit of crunch.
Get a Crunch
Crackers made of chia, sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds are ones you cannot pass up. Combine a ½ cup of each seed and 1 cup of water and bake as a thin sheet in the oven on 300 degrees for about 30 minutes. Make sure their crispy enough and slightly browned so all of that flavor can come out. These are jam-packed with healthy fats and a perfect snack on their own or for dipping in those beloved hummuses. Add more herbs and spices of your liking to bring out an extra bold flavor. You’ll forget about those store-bought chips and crackers after getting a taste of these!
Enhance the Texture
Include chia seeds in your morning routine by adding them to full-fat Greek yogurt or steel cut oatmeal. The normally smooth texture is way more vibrant with the addition of this little protein-boosting superfood. Stay away from flavored yogurts and oatmeals because of the addition of unnatural ingredients and tons of sugar. As much as brands want you to think that by eating a strawberry-flavored yogurt you’re getting a dose of fruit in it, sugar is actually listed higher on the ingredients list and is a total scheme. Get the same sweetness by adding your own fresh fruit and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg!
Create a Breakfast Bar
Combine a power packed blend of your best seeds, nuts, grains and fruits to make perfect morning breakfast bars. Chia seeds will give you that extra pep-in-your-step with the high amount of protein and fiber content. The fun in making these is the abundant amount of combinations you can make! Try a few different recipes to find out what you like best. Be sure to stay away from recipes that add too much sugar (including ingredients like agave, honey, and dried fruits) and lead to belly fat. Health experts recommend no more than five percent of the daily calories should come from sugar.
Snacktime For The Kids
Juice boxes are a go-to for packing a lunch for kids but did you know most of them are made with high fructose corn syrup and sugars. Replace those with fun snack time juices like Mamma Chia Squeeze Vitality Snacks. The kids will love the fun texture and get natural energy from the powerful chia seeds.
Dip Into It
Make a superfood guacamole, hummus, or Greek Tzatziki sauce with chia seeds! Incorporating these teeny seeds into your favorite dips will pack in a super healthy punch and create a smooth gelatin texture that’s just like the classic dip. These practically flavorless seeds will boost the overall nutrition of the dips with a load of fiber and protein. You can even opt to take out some of the higher calorie ingredients like avocado and garbanzo beans by replacing them with the chia gel to cut back and make it more diet friendly dip. Use the crackers in #9 to increase the chia seed intake and really up those health benefits!
Looking to make a recipe vegan but can’t figure out how to stay away from the eggs? Chia seeds are the perfect way to stick to vegan without stressing about losing the texture that eggs create. To make one chia seed egg combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3-6 tablespoons of water, mix and let sit for about ten minutes. Replace each regular egg with one of these chia seed eggs to find the same great consistency in your baked goods.
Use it As a Garnish
We saved the easiest one for last! Salads, fruits, eggs, and soups are just some of the great places to add extra nutrition to your daily favorites. Sprinkle them generously over your food to get a boost of omega-3s, protein, and fiber. They have a bland flavor that won’t impact the taste and also bring great texture the plate.