Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods on the planet that benefits both the body and brain. And they are so, so easy to add to your diet.
I was actually doing some research on natural protein sources and chia seeds kept popping up, along with all their health benefits, which made me curious about the tiny seeds. After spending hours reading and researching, I couldn’t believe how healthy they were and how easy to incorporate into your diet. Why the heck wasn’t I eating these every single day?
WHAT ARE CHIA SEEDS?
Chia seeds come from the plant Salvia Hispanica, which is part of the mint family. Chia seeds were used as far back as 3500 B.C. by Mayans and Aztecs. Chia is actually the Mayan word meaning “strength.”
HEALTH BENEFITS –
Chia seeds are rich in Omega-3s, antioxidants, protein and fiber. They are also high in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are all essential for bone health.
Chia seeds are also a great prebiotic, which feeds the probiotics in your system, giving you a happy, healthy gut. Another great benefit is it can reduce inflammation and keep joints healthy. A study in Type 2 Diabetes showed that chia sees can significantly lower blood pressure too.
Chia is one of the richest sources of soluble fiber, which is the kind that takes longer to get through your digestive tract, which adds bulk to stools, and slows glucose absorption.
They are also gluten-free and vegan.
If you have a history of dysphagia, or trouble swallowing, you should use caution or better yet, consult your doctor first. If you are allergic to mustard or sesame seeds or are on high blood pressure medications or blood thinners, you should also check with your doctor first. Just to be on the safe side.
Chia seeds are made of 40% fiber, by weight. Because of the fiber, chia seeds can absorb up to 10-12 times their weight in water, becoming gel-like and expanding in your stomach…which should increase fullness, slow absorption of your food, and help you automatically eat fewer calories.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR –
When buying chia seeds make sure they are black or white, or a bit speckled. If they are brown or green, they are immature and don’t contain all the added health benefits of the black or white. Chia is mild with a neutral taste so if your seeds smell “fishy” or have a strong taste, return them. For best quality, look for organic or chemical-free chia seeds.
I personally like Mamma Chia Organic Chia Seed which I actually found at Ross ($7.99 for 12 ounces.) Rob’s Red Mill is another brand I love and trust. Prices can vary hugely but just know, higher prices don’t necessarily mean better quality. Read the label…ingredient list should only contain chia seeds.
HOW TO USE –
I love the fact that chia seeds don’t have to be ground. In fact, you can eat them straight out of the bag or add them to pretty much anything and everything. They taste rather bland so adding them to smoothies or baked goods won’t alter the flavor. You can also add them to oatmeal or pudding, sprinkle on cereal, veggies or rice, add to ground meats or thicken sauces with them.
After chia seeds are mixed with liquid, they take on a gelatinous texture. And when soaked overnight, they have a tapioca-like texture. If you like the “crunch” of the seed, add to your recipe at the last minute.
- There’s a lot of fiber in these little seeds so if you eat too much at one time, especially if you don’t already incorporate a lot of fiber in your diet, you might have some digestive side effects in the beginning.
Here are chia seeds first placed in water…
And after soaking for about 20 minutes…
A FEW FAVE RECIPES…
There are so many ways you can add chia seeds to your diet but here are a few recipes I tried that were quick and tasty. There are dozens and dozens of variations on the Chia Fresca Drink and Chia Pudding I made, the difference mostly being in what kind of sweeteners you use, the amount of sweetener, limes versus lemons, etc. I experimented with a few very basic ingredients and once I got the proportions to exactly what tasted best to me, I can play with additional flavors and add-ins if I want.
CHIA FRESCA DRINK –
2 cups water or coconut water
1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 to 2 teaspoon sweetener (I used agave nectar but feel free to use any type of sugar or sweetener you prefer…or try without)
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
Add all the ingredients together and stir well. Let sit for about 10 minutes, stirring often to break up seeds. Serve chilled, over ice and garnish with lemon wedge.
*Variation Ideas – Substitute lime or orange for the lemon if you want. Honey or sugar in the raw is good too as a sweetener.
CHIA SEED “PUDDING” –
Another recipe I tried and liked was a chia seed “pudding” that can be made in so many different ways, it’s crazy. The first time I made this I used simple filtered tap water and seeds. It doesn’t get any easier or cheaper than that. Now this isn’t something I would sit down and eat by the bowlful but rather, I add it to my yogurt each morning and then eat a tablespoon in the evening as an added nutritional “snack” that fills me up so I don’t get the midnight munchies.
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 cup liquid (like water, coconut water, coconut milk, fruit juice, etc.)
1/2 tablespoon honey (maple syrup, agave nectar, or any other sweetener works well too)
Add chia seeds to liquid and let sit and gel for about 15 minutes or overnight. Add sweetener and enjoy!
Variations – I like to add berries to mine but you could also add nuts, any type of fruit, coconut, cinnamon, etc.
FACIAL/BODY SCRUB –
For a very gentle facial/body scrub that exfoliates and moisturizes…
1/4 coconut oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chia seeds
Mix all ingredients together and store in a clean jar, covered.
To use – Dampen face or body and apply in circular motion to damp skin. Let sit for about 3 to 5 minutes. Use a wet washcloth to remove. Rinse with cold water. (Store in fridge for up to 5 days.)
And here are more than 40 other ways you can use these powerful and healthy chia seeds…