Ch-ch-ch Chia! Remember chia pets? Well, they’re not so popular anymore (although apparently they’re still in business and making updated branded products (check out The Child from The Mandalorian). The seeds you used in those silly toys were chia seeds, and now they’re wildly popular as superfood nutritional powerhouses! But please, don’t eat the chia seeds in the Chia Pet kit, they aren’t approved for human consumption. Not to worry, we have fantastic chia seeds for you here.
Chia seeds, which come from the salvia hispanica plant, are tiny oval gray or white seeds that don’t necessarily look like much. Chia seeds were believed to be a staple in the ancient Aztec diet and as the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors. Despite their ancient history as a dietary staple, chia seeds became recognized as a modern superfood only recently, just like goji berries.
So why have chia seeds become so insanely popular in the health and wellness world? These incredibly versatile little seeds have a whole host of powerful health benefits and practical culinary uses. Take a look below as we illuminate you on the chia seeds benefits.
Types of Chia Seeds
There are actually two different types of chia seeds, which are actually a variety of the mint plant, oddly enough. And in fact, the two different colors of chia seeds have different nutritional values. The chia plant that has purple flowers yields brown or “black” chia seeds, and the chia plants with white flowers only yield white chia seeds.
Both varieties of chia seeds function the same way, but the white chia seeds have a little more protein while the black variety has a little more fiber. But whichever color you get, know that you’re going to get a nutritionally-dense and powerfully health-boosting addition to your diet.
Features of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds certainly fall into the category of “Superfoods,” which is just another way of saying it’s a very nutritionally-rich food considered to be extremely beneficial for health and well-being.
While chia seeds don’t have much in the way of flavor themselves, they are quite versatile and can be used in a variety of different recipes. Here are a few of the many ways chia seeds can be used:
- Add a tablespoon of chia seeds to thicken up a smoothie or smoothie bowl.
- Soak 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in 2.5 tablespoons of water to make chia seed egg replacement for baking cookies, muffins, brownies, cakes, and more.
- Add chia seeds to a homemade sauce or dressing to boost the nutritional value and healthy fats.
- Soak chia seeds with some plant-based milk (and add some protein powder if you’d like) and soak overnight for a deliciously healthy “chia pudding.”
- Add chia seeds to your overnight oats for a boost of antioxidants and healthy fats in the morning.
- Make a “chia fresca,” used by the famed Mexican Tarahumara Indian runners as pre-workout energy and endurance drink. Mix 2 tablespoons chia seeds with 2 cups water, the juice of one lime, and a tablespoon agave nectar.
Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds
These tiny unassuming seeds contain a ridiculous amount of nutrients.
In fact, a one-ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains:
- 4 grams of Protein
- 11 Grams of Fiber
- 9 grams of fat, including 5 grams of omega-3s
- Rich source of Calcium, Manganese, Magnesium, and Phosphorus
- Along with a decent amount of zinc, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2.
Here are a few more of the chia seeds nutritional facts:
Chia Seeds Are Packed with Antioxidants
Because chia seeds are high in healthy fats, their high antioxidant content protects the seeds from going rancid. But aside from acting as a preservative the benefits to your body of these antioxidants are tremendous. Antioxidants help your body to fight off free radicals, reduce inflammation, and protect your cells from damage that leads to premature aging. While studies have shown that taking supplemental antioxidants are not very effective, getting antioxidants from whole foods can have tremendous benefits for your health.
You can also find huge amounts of antioxidants in dried cranberries, raw cashews (which are a rich source of polyphenols and carotenoids — two classes of antioxidants), raw pecans and Brazil nuts. Try adding these to your daily snacks with a trail mix, which is already packed in the best combination. Easy to grab with you on a chaotic morning!
Chia Seeds Are Low in Digestible Carbohydrates and High in Fiber
Consuming too many starchy carbohydrates is a concern for many focused on weight loss, and although one serving of chia seeds contains 12 grams of carbohydrates, 11 of them come from fiber. This may be one of the several reasons chia seeds are so effective for helping to control blood sugar.
Because of the fact that they are so high in soluble fiber, chia seeds can actually absorb a tremendous amount of water – up to 10-12 times their weight – becoming like a gel and expanding in your stomach. This helps you to feel fuller for longer in and of itself and also may have some benefits for slowing the absorption of other foods in your stomach.
Mix them with almonds (which are also high in fiber) in order to get a perfectly balanced breakfast!
Chia Seeds Are Loaded With Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are an important part of a healthy diet and may be tied to lower blood pressure, reduced triglycerides, heart health, and brain health. Gram for gram, chia seeds actually contain a higher amount of omega 3 fatty acids than salmon!
Chia Seeds Are High in Plant Protein
If you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or simply cutting down on your animal products, maintaining an adequate intake of quality protein can be a concern. Chia seeds can be quite helpful for ensuring your protein levels are high enough, especially if you’re focused on building and maintaining muscle. By weight, chia seeds are 14% protein, which is exceptionally high compared to most other plants.
Interesting Facts About Chia Seeds
Here are some more fun facts about chia seeds:
- Although chia seeds seem like a relatively new and trendy superfood, people have been eating chia seeds for HUNDREDS of years!
- Chia seeds are “nature’s sprinkles.” To get more nutrition into your kid’s diets, you can give them some of nature’s sprinkles on top of yogurt and even ice cream! You can even put them in a little cake sprinkle shaker to make it extra fun!
- Chia Seeds can help with digestion. The soluble fiber in chia seeds can be a great remedy for constipation or any persistent digestive issues.
- Chia seeds are naturally gluten-free.
- Unlike other seeds (like flax seeds), chia seeds don’t need to be ground up to be digested.
Chia seeds are one of the easiest and most impactful superfoods to add to your daily diet. They keep extremely well in your cabinet and can work their way into a wide variety of different dishes, as evidenced above. So make sure you pick up some of nature’s super sprinkles and start boosting your nutrition today!