Chia is a type of plant (Salvia hispanica) native to Mexico and Guatemala. You’ve probably heard the term “chia” in reference to chia seeds, the popular health food. In this article, we’ll explore what you need to know about chia seeds.
Chia seeds have been in use for literally thousands of years, going as far back as 1500 BC. They were commonly eaten by Aztecs and Mayans and were celebrated for their health-supporting, therapeutic qualities. They’re derived from chia plants.
Chia seeds are nutritionally dense sources of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and many minerals and antioxidants. Chia seeds are therefore great for supporting heart health and promoting a healthy digestive system.
Chia seeds vary in color from black to white to brown, and they’re available as whole seeds, soaked, or in powder form.
Chia seeds are well known for their many health benefits.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, with a single ounce of chia seeds providing up to 9.75 grams of fiber – more than a quarter of most people’s recommended daily intake. As such, chia seeds can promote health digestion and improved gut health, including healthier bowel formation, increased bowel frequency, and reduced intestinal transit time. Chia seeds also promote greater feelings of satiety. A 2012 meta-analysis found that people with increased dietary fiber and whole grain consumption showed a greater capacity for healthy weight management.
Chia seeds are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to support heart health. About three-quarters of the fats in chia seeds derive from ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid that the body can turn into EPA and DHA, other important omega-3 fatty acids.
Chia seeds are also a great source of many minerals, including phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Chia seeds have a subtle taste. Their mild and nutty flavor blends well with both sweet and savory dishes. Some say that chia seeds taste sort of like alfalfa sprout or poppy seed. You can add chia seeds to many different meals and snacks and enjoy their many health benefits.
Chia seeds are oval-shaped, tiny seeds that are sometimes white, sometimes black, and sometimes more like brown. They are smooth to the touch, and when eaten straight from the bag they tend to be crunchy. When soaked, the outer portion can be gelatinous, while still containing some crunch. The powder form of chia seeds is a gel-like substance.
One great and popular way to consume chia seeds is by adding them to a smoothie. They tend to have the effect of thickening the smoothie without changing the smoothie’s taste in a noticeable way. You’ll notice the nutty layer of flavor if you’re really trying to, but it’s just as likely that you won’t notice at all!
Chia seeds are also great to use in baked goods. People sometimes use them in place of an egg when baking, using either one tablespoon of chia seeds or two teaspoons of ground chia seeds with three tablespoons of water. Let the chia form a gel in the water by letting it sit for about ten minutes, and you’ll be all set to go egg-free!
First of all, chia seeds don’t need to be cooked. You can eat them raw, and they can be added raw to a number of popular foods: cereal, yogurt, smoothies, salads, and more.
Some also like to soak chia seeds in a liquid, such as almond milk or water, in order to turn them into a gel-like substance. This is common when you’re using chia seeds to thicken desserts.
There are many popular chia seed recipes you can choose from. For example, you can make chia pudding using – just use four parts of a liquid of your choice, and one part chia seeds. You can also use chia seeds in a salad dressing (instead of poppy seeds).
Some other chia seed recipes include chia seed muffins, chia seed protein balls, chia granola, and chia bagels. Look up some recipes that interest you and get cooking!
To ensure your chia seeds remain high quality, it’s best to store them in an airtight container in a cool area. (This is true of all nuts and seeds, really.) Put them in a jar of skins and put them in the refrigerator or the freezer. You can keep them at room temperature for short periods of time, but leaving them out for too long can cause them to go bad.