What are Chia Seeds and Why Would I Want to Eat Them?

What Are Chia Seeds?

When I first heard of Chia Seeds my mind went immediately to “Cha Cha Cha Chia…” the theme for Chia Pets. Do you remember Chia Pets? Those little clay animals that had Chia Seed “hair” that would grow. Well, the Chia Seeds that are the latest “superfood” are the same thing, with one exception, they are an edible grade grown for human consumption.

Chia Seeds (Salvia Hispanica) has been around since 1500 B.C. At one time they were considered more valuable than gold. The seeds were used in ancient Aztec cultures as food, medicine, ritual offerings and currency.

Why Would I Want to Eat Chia Seeds?

There are many benefits to eating these nutrient-rich, protein packed, fiber packed little seeds including the fact that they:

  • Aid in Weight-loss
  • Prolong Stamina
  • Increase Energy
  • Reduce Blood Pressure
  • Reduce Cravings
  • Increase Fullness
  • Hydrate the Body
  • Source of Omega-3
  • Aid in Controlling Blood Sugar
  • High Fiber Content
  • Provide Energy
  • Boost Strength
  • Increase Regeneration of Muscle Tissue
  • Increase Endurance
  • Aid Intestinal Regularity
  • Extend Food
  • Replace Calories
  • Balance Electrolytes
  • Aid Digestion
  • Enhance Nutritional Absorption
  • Reduce Inflammation

“Chia” is the Mayan word for strength and these tiny unique seeds really do pack a big punch. They are a complete protein source, filled with calcium, potassium, fiber and vitamins. They are the highest known natural source of Omega-3. They can absorb up to 10 times their weight which makes them a excellent source of hydration. Many consider Chia Seeds to be a perfect food.

There are some similarities between Chia Seeds and Flax Seeds including their high soluble fiber content. There are also many advantages to eating Chia Seeds instead of Flax Seeds. Unlike Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds can be stored for years without turning rancid or losing nutritional value. This is due to their high level of naturally occurring antioxidants. Chia Seeds can also be used whole and are easily digested and absorbed by the body. They can be substituted for flax in any recipe.

Chia seeds are very versatile. Whole and ground seeds can be sprinkled on foods, they can be ground and mixed with flour, added whole to beverages or soaked in liquids to create a gel. They can be added to virtually anything savory or sweet without changing the flavor. The seeds will enhance the flavor of what they are added to rather than dilute it. They can be used as a fat replacer in many recipes. They are also gluten-free, making them ideal for those who have gluten sensitivity.

Raw foodists seem to have embraced the Chia Seed more quickly than everyone else, but they have properties that make them ideal for many diets. Because they slow down the conversion of carbohydrates into energy they can have greatly benefit diabetics and those who are trying to eat a low-glycemic or anti-inflammatory diet. Their ability to increase fullness, reduce cravings, displace calories and replace fat make Chia Seeds a great weight-loss aid.

Recipes Using Chia Seeds:

Chia Gel
  • 1/3 c Chia Seeds
  • 2 c Water
  • Whisk ingredients together. Stir well. Store in refrigerator and use as needed. Lasts for up to 3 weeks.
  • Chia Fresca
  • 2 tsp Chia Seeds
  • 8oz Pure Water (cold)
  • 1 Lemon or Lime (juiced)
  • Agave to taste
  • Chia Fresca is a drink still made in Mexico and Central America. Whisk ingredients together, stir and serve.
  • Pumpkin Chia Pudding
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of Pumpkin
  • 1-1/4 cups Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1 tbsp Agave
  • 2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon (ground)
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg (fresh grated)
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger (ground)
  • pinch Clove (ground)
  • pinch Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • Raisins
  • Add pumpkin, almond milk, agave, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove and sea salt to food processor, blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and whisk in the chia seeds. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight. Top with with raisins. Serve.
  • Banana Chia Pudding
  • 2 Ripe Bananas
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 2 tsp Agave
  • 2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • pinch Sea Salt
  • 3 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • Add 1-1/2 bananas, almond milk, agave, vanilla and sea salt to food processor, blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and whisk in the chia seeds. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight. Top with 1/2 banana, sliced. Serve.
  •  

    Until recently, Chia Seeds were only grown by a few small growers in Latin America. After centuries of obscurity, people are starting to realize their benefits and commercially produced products are starting to add Chia Seeds. The increased demand for this amazing little seed has caused commercial growing to resume. Organically grown varieties are plentiful because insects don’t like the chia plant.

    If you have never tried Chia Seeds, they are definitely worth a try. You can find them in your local health food store. You could sprinkle them on some yogurt or make one of the recipes above. They are versatile and inexpensive, giving you a lot of bang for your buck.


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    Be Healthy,

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    About Heather Lentz

    Your Journey Begins Here…We Be Healthy supports you in your journey towards a healthy lifestyle through Low-Glycemic Cooking (& Eating), High Quality Nutritional Supplements, Jumpstart 5-Day Carb Cleanse, Healthy Energy Drinks, Preservative-Free Skin Care, Reducing Your Toxic Load and Creating a Healthy Home. Although I am still on my healing journey, I am now taking others along with me.
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    20 Responses to What are Chia Seeds and Why Would I Want to Eat Them?

    1. Awesome Heather! Thanks for this post about a little known seed that is great for human consumption! You’re right, so many people only know it for the clay shapes it can grow! I also will use it for my green smoothies to give it a bump – it is yummy and gives the smoothies some “body”. I have also sprinkled it on sugar free oatmeal with cinnamon, stevia and a shot of coconut milk. YUM!

      I always appreciate that you bring us such good wholesome goodness!

      Thanks!
      Tina

    2. I actually learned about chia seeds from a runner friend. She used them to extend hydration and performance. I had really only known them to be used in the gel form, so these recipes are great (and I love Tina’s suggestion on the oatmeal). One question I do have is whether chia seeds when used like that is whether they need to be ground first to be the most beneficial which is what I have heard (and follow) about flax seed.

      Jennifer Peek | Small Business Strategist
      Find Your New Groove
      The Freedom to Build Your Business Your Way

      • Jennifer, Thanks for bringing that up, I don’t specifically talk about runners using chia seeds for hydration in my article. I just talk about their ability to increase hydration. Many runners use them to hydrate and improve stamina. One of the things that make chia seeds superior to flax is that they are easily digested. You do not have to grind them up in order to benefit from eating them. Thanks for the question! Enjoy! 😉

    3. Thank you for sharing this important information. I love chia seeds and encourage my clients – many of whom have inflammatory conditions – to use them regularly. There are so many yummy ways to make them. They are a perfect food.
      xo
      Laurie

      • Reducing inflammation is a great benefit from eating chia seeds. I think they are a perfect food too, Laurie! I love that they can slow down the conversion of carbs into energy and that they can be added into anything. I look forward to finding more ways to add them into my diet. I’ll keep you posted. 😉

    4. I can always count on you to give me full spectrum info on my health food questions. Now I know what to do with that bag of chia seeds I have sitting in my fridge (don’t worry – I’ll check the expiration date). Although healthy living is of primary importance to me, I’m one of those people who move fast and don’t enjoy delving into the details… Thank you for providing them so effortlessly. Looking forward to trying these recipes!

      • Thanks for all the compliments Maddy! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Unlike flax seeds, Chia seeds should be kept in a dry place and don’t need to be refrigerated. They are full of antioxidants which make them way more stable and resistant to turning rancid. Enjoy the recipes! I am in love with the banana chia pudding right now. It looks a little strange, but tastes great. You can check out my facebook page if you want to see a picture. https://www.facebook.com/WeBeHealthy. 😉

    5. Shay says:

      Thanks for sharing your recipes! I have a bag of chia seeds in my freezer and I can never figure out what to do with them.

      • You’re welcome Shay! I hope you like the recipes. The best way to store chia seeds is in an airtight container kept in a cool, dark, dry place. Not the refrigerator or freezer. If stored properly they have a shelf life of 5+ years. 😉

    6. Adeah Wetzel says:

      Okay thank you! I noticed chia seeds in the health food section at my local Hy-Vee and will confess I even had them in my cart but took them because I had no idea what to do with them! Next trip to the grocery store I am keeping them in the cart.

      • Andeah, Yes, get those seeds back in your cart! Now you know how to use them and these recipes just break the surface. You can bake with them too! They don’t call it a superfood for nothing. 😉

    7. Yvette says:

      Wow, Heather I’ve never heard of Chia seeds! Thanks for sharing this valuable info about this wonderful antioxidant. We use flax seeds as a substitute for eggs. I wonder if chia seeds has the same binding effect. Will have to try and see. Great info – thanks!

      • Yes Yvette, they can be a substitute for eggs. Make a “thick” chia gel with 1 tbsp chia seeds and 1/4 cup of water. Let sit for 30 min or make ahead and keep in the refrigerator. 1/4 c of “thick” chia gell = 1 egg. I’m glad you liked the article. Let me know how it goes! 😉

    8. Kathleen says:

      Thank YOU Heather! What is so WILD is that I just experienced chia seeds in a kombucha drink that is sold at whole foods… and it was soooooooo YUMMY!! oh my WOMAN! the chia seeds had gelled a bit and created this amazing texture. They were such a delight to drink! They actually made me smile! So reading your post to find out allllll their benefits is so awesome for me! Thank you so much! xo

      • I have seen the kombucha drinks with chia seeds too! Haven’t had one yet because I’m hooked on the ginger aid kombucha. I’ll try one next time I go to the health food store. I usually just drop a few tsp of chia seeds into a bottle of water and shake it up. Once they sit for 10 minutes or so I drink it. Thanks for your great comments Kathleen! 😉

    9. Julie McMahon says:

      Hi Heather,
      I love me some chia seeds. However, I have forgotten them completely from my daily diet. Thanks for the reminder that these little seeds are so powerful. Guess what I’ll be eating today…your pumpkin pudding recipe. That sounds so yummy!

    10. How timely for me because I just saw my husband eating these sprinkled on something and I didn’t even know we owned them or what they might be. LOL! He told me they were flaxseed-ish – and I’ve been curious about them so I’m so glad you wrote this! Especially since I don’t have to go out and buy them, I can just make that delish banana pudding you supplied. Banana pudding is my fave!

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