What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant and are in the mint family Lamiaceae. Chia seeds are high in calcium, protein, fiber and antioxidants. In fact, they have more antioxidants than blueberries and also provide good amounts of carbohydrates and omega-3 fatty acids.
One ounce of seeds has about 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and nearly 140 calories. Some claim that chia seeds can help contribute to weight loss, although the evidence on this is mixed. There is no doubt though that the seeds are a healthy alternative addition to any diet.
Fun Fact: The word ‘chia’ means strength.
How to Incorporate Chia Seeds into Your Diet
Many people use chia seeds to add texture or taste to foods such as yogurt, cereal and rice. The taste is reminiscent of nuts, and is mild and enjoyable. The seeds are fun to experiment with and can be used whole or ground up. Here are 8 ways to reap the health benefits of chia seeds through your diet.
- Pudding: Chia seed pudding is great for snacks, school lunch sides, desserts and breakfasts. There are many ways to tailor this pudding to your preferences such as type of milk, sweetener and toppings. For best results, enjoy the pudding within two to three days.
- Smoothies: You can use chia seeds to thicken your favorite smoothie recipes. For extra coldness, put your smoothie in the freezer for about 10 minutes before you enjoy it.
- Jam: Since chia seeds are great for thickening, you can use them to make many types of fruit jams such as strawberry jam. You can use the jam on bread, yogurt or oatmeal, but note that chia seed jam is not quite as thick as traditional jam. The process is fairly straightforward: crush or mash the fruit, and add chia seeds to soak up the juices. If you want more of a traditional jam taste, it may help to cook the fruit before mashing it.
- Cakes: From banana chia seed cakes to lemon chia seed loaves, there are plenty of ways to incorporate chia seeds into your favorite cakes for an added nutrient boost. Likewise, you can use ground chia seeds as an egg replacer for a plant-based alternative.
- Juices: You can drink your favorite fruit juice with chia seeds and one cup of water. First, mix the water and three tablespoons of the seeds. Stir the mixture, and keep it in the refrigerator for at least a few hours so it can gel. Next, get one cup of the fruit juice and mix it with one cup of the gel made of chia seeds and water.
- Soups: If you don’t want to use cornstarch to thicken your soup, try adding chia seeds. You can add them whole or ground up.
- As a substitute for eggs: Adapting a recipe to be vegan and/or egg free? Try chia seeds! Just consult our egg substitute guide.
- Sprouted Chia Seeds: You can make your own sprouted chia seeds to use in salads. Here’s a simple guide to growing your own chia seed sprouts.