Health food advocates are raving over chia seeds, adding them to breakfast cereals, smoothies, breads, and energy bars. This begs the question, “Why should I eat chia seeds?” These little yet powerful superfood seeds may help to control hunger, while being full of valuable nutrients. Plus, chia is low in carbs and calories! Further, it is also gluten free, a high source of dietary fiber, and packed with omega-3 fatty acids.
What is a Chia Seed?
Chia Seeds come from the plants: Salvia hispanica or Salvia columbariae, members of the mint family, Lamiaceae. The plant grows in desert like climates of Mexica, South America, and the Southwestern United States.
Besides being nutritious, chia seeds are fun…they can grow into a lush green chia pet!
Chia Seeds may Help Reduce Hungry Cravings.
Did you know…when you combine these seeds with water, they can grow to over 10 times their size! This may help to fill your stomach, and make you feel full. Plus, chia seeds are high in fiber, making them a good ingredient in dietary products (Afredo, et al, 2009).
A Rich Source of Nutrients
These little seeds pack a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and more:
- Contains: isoflavones and antioxidants (Martínez-Cruz, & Paredes-Lopez, 2014)
- Vitamins: thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and folate
- Minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, maganese, phosphorus, and zinc
One ounce of chia seeds contains about 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, and 11 grams of fiber (Zelman, 2010).
More on Health Benefits
- Chia may help with blood sugar and LDL cholesterol levels. In a review of human studies, chia seeds were shown to help reduce LDL cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and diastolic blood pressure. However, further high quality human studies are needed (Teoh, et al, 2018).
- Get your omega-3! Plants rich in omega-3 fatty acids are associated with a lower risk of arteriosclerosis, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and autoimmune disorders (Conner, 2000).
Three More Uses for Chia Seeds
#1: Chia seeds make a nice egg substitute. Here’s what you do.
- Add: 1 Tbsp of chia seeds + 3 Tbsp of water to = 1 egg substitute in a recipe!
- Just grind the chia seeds, add water, let set for 5 minutes, and vioala, you’ve got yourself an egg substitute!
- The texture is thick and gooey, similar to a raw egg. The taste is nutty and pleasant.
#2: Make a soup thickener. Skip the fatty flour, and use chia seeds thickened in water instead!
#3: Create your own chia pet plant! What ever would you do with a chia pet, you ask? Besides looking cute, chia sprouts taste great in a salad! They grow easy. Here’s how.
First, you need: 1/4 cup of chia seeds, 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup of top soil, a panty hose sock, and a small pot or cup.
Next, combine the chia seeds and water and soak over night.
Then, you combine the soaked seeds with top soil and put it into your panty hose sock.
Form a firm ball and place in your pot or cup.
Place on a sunny window sill and spray with water often, until the sprouts begin to grow!
And if all else fails, make some pudding!
How to Make Chia Seed Pudding
-2 cups of milk
-1/2 cup of chia seeds
-1 tsp of honey
-Optional: garnish with fruit / nuts
Directions: Mix the milk, chia seeds and honey in a glass bowl, and set in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, garnish as desired. Enjoy as a healthy breakfast pudding!
Easy Recipe Flyer
- Alfredo, V. O., Gabriel, R. R., Luis, C. G., & David, B. A. (2009). Physicochemical properties of a fibrous fraction from chia (Salvia hispanica L.). LWT-Food Science and Technology, 42
- (1), 168-173.Connor, W. E. (2000). Importance of n− 3 fatty acids in health and disease–. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 71(1), 171S-175S.
- Martínez-Cruz, O., & Paredes-Lopez, O. (2014). Phytochemical profile and nutraceutical potential of chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.) by ultra high performance liquid chromatography. Journal of Chromatography A, 1346, 43-48.
- Teoh, S. L., Lai, N. M., Vanichkulpitak, P., Vuksan, V., Ho, H., & Chaiyakunapruk, N. (2018). Clinical evidence on dietary supplementation with chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.): a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition reviews, 76(4), 219-242.
- Zelman, K. (2010). The Truth About Chia. Retrieved in November, 2018. Retrieved from: WebMD https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-chia#1
By: Kathy Sadowski, MS in Aromatherapy, RA (ARC), Professional NAHA and AIA Member, LMT