Until recently, I couldn’t think beyond “Cha-cha-cha-chia Pet!” when I heard people talk about how much they loved chia seeds. But after some research and kitchen experimentation, I too am on the chia bandwagon. In addition to being nutritious, they make all sorts of other foods creamier and more delicious.
Here’s a little more about the benefits of chia seeds and how to work them into your diet.
What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as whole seeds (unlike flax and other hard-to-digest seeds). One tablespoon contains 70 calories, 2 grams of protein, 5.5 grams fat, 6 grams carbohydrates and 5.5 grams of fiber.
What are the health benefits of chia?
Chia seeds are a good source of:
- Heart-healthy fat (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, the plant-based omega-3 fat)
- Plant-based protein
Why are chia seeds healthier than other seeds?
Chia seeds offer more nutritional bang for your buck than other seeds because they absorb liquid readily and are thus easy to digest. That means your body is able to use more of the seed’s nutrients. They also have an impressive amount of naturally-occurring fiber.
What do chia seeds taste like?
They have a nutty flavor, but their flavor is so mild you can add them to any dish without altering the flavor of it. It’s really the texture of chia seeds that defines them, not the flavor.
How do you eat or cook with chia?
When you add liquid to chia seeds, they absorb it and become gelatinous and soft, kind of like tapioca. This makes them perfect for stirring into yogurt, oatmeal and cereal, or adding to baked goods, smoothies and pudding. You can also just mix them with water and eat them as a gel.
Are there any downsides to chia seeds?
No, but it’s important to account for their calories and fat if you’re sprinkling them on foods you already eat. For example, if you add a tablespoon to oatmeal in the morning and another tablespoon to yogurt as an afternoon snack, that’s 140 calories you’ve added to your day. The calories come from a healthy source, but as with any addition to your diet, you’ll still need to eliminate 140 calories elsewhere or you will slowly gain weight.
Easy chia seed recipes to get you started
Vanilla and chocolate chia seed pudding – no cooking required!