For basil seed (“tokhm-e-sharbatī”), see
Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia (), is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. The sixteenth-century Codex Mendoza provides evidence that it was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times, and economic historians say it may have been as important as maize as a food crop. It was given as an annual tribute by the people to the rulers in 21 of the 38 Aztec provincial states.
Chia seeds are grown and commonly used as food in several countries of western South America, western Mexico, and the southwestern United States.
The word “chia” is derived from the Nahuatl word chian, meaning oily.
Salvia hispanica is one of two plants known as “chia”, the other being Salvia columbariae, which is sometimes called “golden chia”.
Chia is an annual herb growing up to 1.75 metres (5.7 feet) tall, with opposite leaves that are 4–8 cm (1.6–3.1 in) long and 3–5 cm (1.2–2.0 in) wide. Its flowers are purple or white and are produced in numerous clusters in a spike at the end of each stem. Chia is hardy from USDA Zones 9–12. Many plants cultivated as S. hispanica are in fact Salvia lavandulifolia.
Chia is grown commercially for its seed, a food rich in omega-3 fatty acids since the seeds yield 25–30% extractable oil, including α-linolenic acid. The composition of the fat of the oil may be 55% ω-3, 18% ω-6, 6% ω-9, and 10% saturated fat.
Typically, chia seeds are small ovals with a diameter of approximately 1 mm (0.039 in). They are mottle-colored, with brown, gray, black, and white. The seeds are hydrophilic, absorbing up to twelve times their weight in liquid when soaked. While soaking, the seeds develop a mucilaginous coating that gives chia-based beverages a distinctive gelatinous texture.
Chia is mostly identified as Salvia hispanica L. or Salvia columbariae Benth. Today, chia is grown and consumed commercially in its native Mexico and Guatemala, as well as Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Australia, and the southwestern United States. New patented varieties of chia have been bred in Kentucky for cultivation in northern latitudes of the United States.
Nutrient content and food uses
A 100-gram (3.5 oz) serving of chia seeds is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of thiamine and niacin (54% and 59%, respectively), and a moderate source of riboflavin and folate (14% and 12% DV, respectively). The same amount of chia seeds contains high amounts (48–130% DV) of the dietary minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc (table).
Chia seeds may be added to other foods as a topping or put into smoothies, breakfast cereals, energy bars, granola bars, yogurt, tortillas, and bread. In 2009 the European Union approved chia seeds as a novel food, allowing chia to be 5% of a bread product’s total matter.
They also may be made into a gelatin-like substance or consumed raw. The gel from ground seeds may be used to replace the egg content in cakes while providing other nutrients, and is a common substitute in vegan baking.
Preliminary health research
Although preliminary research indicates potential health benefits from consuming chia seeds, this work remains sparse and inconclusive. In a 2015 systematic review, most of the studies did not demonstrate a statistically significant effect of chia seed consumption on cardiovascular risk factors in humans.
No evidence to date indicates consuming chia seeds has adverse effects on, or interacts with, prescription drugs.
S. hispanica is described and pictured in the Mendoza Codex and the Florentine Codex, sixteenth-century Aztec codices created between 1540 and 1585. Both describe and picture S. hispanica and its use by the Aztecs. The Mendoza Codex indicates that the plant was widely cultivated and given as tribute in 21 of the 38 Aztec provincial states. Economic historians suggest that it was a staple food that was used as widely as maize.
Aztec tribute records from the Mendoza Codex, Matrícula de Tributos, and the Matricula de Huexotzinco (1560), along with colonial cultivation reports and linguistic studies, detail the geographic location of the tributes and provide some geographic specificity to the main S. hispanica-growing regions. Most of the provinces grew the plant, except for areas of lowland coastal tropics and desert. The traditional area of cultivation was in a distinct area that covered parts of north-central Mexico, south to Nicaragua. A second and separate area of cultivation, apparently pre-Columbian, was in southern Honduras and Nicaragua.
Chia is legally considered a ‘novel food’ in Europe as it does not have “a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997”, according to the Advisory Committee of Novel Foods and Processes. In 2009 permission was given to include small amounts of chia in bread products and a consumption limit of 15 g (0.53 oz) a day of pre-packaged chia seed was suggested.
Climate and growing cycle length
The length of the growing cycle for chia varies based on location and is influenced by elevation. For production sites located in different ecosystems in Bolivia, Argentina, and Ecuador, growing cycles are between 100–150 days in duration. Accordingly, commercial production fields are located in the range of 8–2,200 m (26–7,218 ft) altitude across a variety of ecosystems ranging from tropical coastal desert, to tropical rain forest, and inter-Andean dry valley. In northwestern Argentina, a time span from planting to harvest of 120–180 days is reported for fields located at elevations of 900–1,500 m (3,000–4,900 ft).
S. hispanica is a short-day flowering plant, indicating its photoperiodic sensitivity and lack of photoperiodic variability in traditional cultivars, which has limited commercial use of chia seeds to tropical and subtropical latitudes until 2012. Now, traditional domesticated lines of Salvia species grow naturally or can be cultivated in temperate zones at higher latitudes in the United States. In Arizona and Kentucky, seed maturation of traditional chia cultivars is stopped by frost before or after flower set, preventing seed harvesting. Advances in plant breeding during 2012, however, led to development of new early-flowering chia genotypes proving to have higher yields in Kentucky.
Seed yield and composition
Seed yield varies depending on cultivars, mode of cultivation, and growing conditions by geographic region. For example, commercial fields in Argentina and Colombia vary in yield range from 450 to 1,250 kilograms per hectare (400 to 1,120 lb/acre). A small-scale study with three cultivars grown in the inter-Andean valleys of Ecuador produced yields up to 2,300 kilograms per hectare (2,100 lb/acre), indicating that the favorable growing environment and cultivar interacted to produce the high yields. Genotype has a larger effect on yield than on protein content, oil content, fatty acid composition, or phenolic compounds, whereas high temperature reduces oil content and degree of unsaturation, and raises protein content.
Soil, seedbed requirements, and sowing
The cultivation of S. hispanica requires light to medium clay or sandy soils. The plant prefers well-drained, moderately fertile soils, but can cope with acid soils and moderate drought. Sown chia seeds need moisture for seedling establishment, while the maturing chia plant does not tolerate wet soils during growth.
Traditional cultivation techniques of S. hispanica include soil preparation by disruption and loosening followed by seed broadcasting. In modern commercial production, a typical sowing rate of 6 kilograms per hectare (5.4 lb/acre) and row spacing of 0.7–0.8 m (2.3–2.6 ft) are usually applied.
Fertilization and irrigation
S. hispanica can be cultivated under low fertilizer input, using 100 kg/ha (89 lb/acre) nitrogen per hectare or in some cases, no fertilizer is used.
Irrigation frequency in chia production fields may vary from none to eight irrigations per growing season, depending on climatic conditions and rainfall.
Genetic diversity and breeding
The wide range of wild and cultivated varieties of S. hispanica are based on seed size, shattering of seeds, and seed color. Seed weight and color have high heritability, with a single recessive gene responsible for white color.
Diseases and crop management
Currently, no major pests or diseases affect chia production.Essential oils in chia leaves have repellant properties against insects, making it suitable for organic cultivation. Virus infections, however, possibly transmitted by white flies, may occur. Weeds may present a problem in the early development of the chia crop until its canopy closes, but because chia is sensitive to most commonly used herbicides, mechanical weed control is preferred.
Decorative and novelty uses
During the 1980s in the United States, the first substantial wave of chia seed sales was tied to Chia Pets. These “pets” come in the form of clay figures that serve as a base for a sticky paste of chia seeds; the figures then are watered and the seeds sprout into a form suggesting a fur covering for the figure. About 500,000 chia pets a year are sold in the US as novelties or house plants.
- List of ancient dishes and foods
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- ^ Dunn C (25 May 2015). “Is chia the next quinoa?”. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
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- ^ “Commission Decision of 13 October 2009 authorising the placing on the market of chia seed (Salvia hispanica) as a novel food ingredient under Regulation (EC) No 268/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council (L294/14) 2009/827/EC”. The European Union. 11 November 2009. pp. 14–15.
- ^ “Chewing Chia Packs A Super Punch”. NPR. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
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- ^ Borneo R, Aguirre A, León AE (2010). “Chia (Salvia hispanica L) gel can be used as egg or oil replacer in cake formulations”. J Am Diet Assoc. (6): 946–9. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.011. PMID 20497788.
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- ^ “A second apparently pre-Columbian cultivation area is known in southern Honduras and Nicaragua.”Jamboonsri, Watchareewan; Phillips, Timothy D.; Geneve, Robert L.; Cahill, Joseph P.; Hildebrand, David F. (2011). “Extending the range of an ancient crop, Salvia hispanica L.—a new ω3 source”. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. Springer. Online First (2): 171–178. doi:10.1007/s10722-011-9673-x.
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Method 1 Eating Chia Seeds Uncooked
- Mix the chia seeds into oatmeal, yogurt, or other wet foods.
One of the most common ways to eat chia seeds raw is to sprinkle them over or mix them into other dishes. Stir them in any wet food to turn the dry seeds gelatinous and mushy, which will help them blend into the food less obviously.
- Add chia to your breakfast by sprinkling 1 or 2 Tbsp (15 or 30 ml) of chia seeds over oatmeal, yogurt, or breakfast cereal.
- For a healthy snack or light lunch, stir 1 to 2 Tbsp (15 to 30 ml) of chia seeds into a cup of cottage cheese.
- Mix chia seeds into wet sandwich ingredients. Use tuna salad or egg salad for savory sandwiches, or peanut butter or hazelnut spread for sweet sandwiches.
- Sprinkle chia seeds over foods to keep the seeds crunchy.
If the food is dry, the seeds will stay crunchy, which some people prefer. Even on wet foods, a sprinkling of seeds at the top may not form a gel if not mixed in.
- Sprinkle the seeds over any type of salad.
- Decorate pudding with a dash of chia seeds.
- Hide chia seeds in raw one-dish meals.
This is especially helpful if you have picky eaters in your household that may otherwise scoff at the notion of consuming these tiny seeds.
- Mix chia seeds into potato salad or cold pasta salads. Add 2 tbsp (30 mL) of chia seeds to a large serving bowl of potato or pasta salad and stir thoroughly.
- Make granola bars with chia seeds.
Mix 2 Tbsp (30 mL) chia seeds into your favorite granola bar recipe. For a no-bake recipe, stir the seeds into 1 cup pitted, blended dates, 1/4 cup peanut butter or other nut spread, 1 1/2 cups rolled oats, 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup, and 1 cup chopped nuts.
Spread this mixture on a pan and harden in the fridge. You may toast the oats before adding to add a different flavor, or
explore other granola bar recipes
that require baking.
- Create flavored chia gelatin or jelly.
Add chia seeds to pureed fruit. More chia seeds will create a gelatin, while fewer will create a jelly. You may need to experiment with different amounts until you find a ratio best suited to your type of fruit and preferences.
- Roughly speaking, 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) of pureed fruit and 1/2 cup (125 ml) chia seeds mixed together create a chunky jam.
Method 2 Eating Chia Seeds Cooked
- Make chia seed porridge.
Stir 1–2 tbsp (15–30 mL) of chia seeds into a cup (240 mL) of warm milk or any milk substitute. Let stand for 10–15 minutes until the mixture forms a gel, whisking occasionally to break up seed clumps, then eat cold or heat again before eating.
The mixture alone is quite bland, so you may enjoy eating with sliced fruit, dried fruit, nuts, or honey. Add extra flavor with a pinch of cinnamon or sea salt if desired.
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) will make a thick porridge. Use less if you prefer a thinner mixture.
- Stir in any liquid or powdered flavoring while the mixture is gelling to add more flavor. Try cocoa powder, malt powder, or fruit juice.
- Grind chia seeds into flour.
Pulse the seeds in a food processor, blender, or coffee grinder until a fine powder forms. Use it in place of all-purpose flour by substituting it completely or mixing it with other flour.
- If using it in a thick dough, you can substitute the chia flour in equal parts.
- If using it in a thinner batter or dough, mix one part chia seed flour with three parts regular or gluten-free flour.
- Mix chia seeds into bread and baked goods.
Instead of grinding the chia seeds down into flour, you can add them whole to a variety of flour-based baked goods. Add 3 to 4 Tbsp (45 to 60 ml) chia seeds to your favorite whole-grain
, whole-grain cracker,
, or cake batters.
- Slip chia seeds into casseroles and similar dishes.
If you have picky eaters in your household, you can sneak chia seeds into your diet by mixing them into one-dish meals. Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) chia seeds to a lasagna or casserole prepared in a standard casserole dish, or follow these suggestions:
- Ground meat mixtures for homemade meatballs or burgers can be thickened with 1 or 2 tbsp (15 to 30 ml) chia seeds for each 1 lb (450 g) of ground meat, instead of breadcrumbs.
- Mix 2 Tbsp (30 ml) chia seeds into scrambled eggs, omelets, and other egg-based dishes.
- Add a dash of chia seeds to your favorite stir-fries.
- Soak them to form a gel for later use.
Mix 1 tbsp (15 ml) chia seeds with 3 to 4 tbsp (45 to 60 ml) water and let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it forms a thick gel. Mix it with up to 9 tbsp (130 mL) water if you prefer thinner gels.
This gel can be refrigerated for up to two weeks before eating. Forming this gel in advance saves time and ensures that there are no dry, crunchy seeds when you add it to another food.
- You can use this gel as a substitute for eggs in baked goods. 5 tbsp (75 mL) of gel is roughly equal to one egg. You cannot use this as an egg substitute in omelets or other recipes where the egg is not mixed with other ingredients.
Thicken soups and sauces with chia seeds. Add 2 to 4 Tbsp (30 to 60 ml) of chia seeds to any bowl of soup, stew, sauce, or gravy. Let sit for 10 to 30 minutes or until it thickens. Stir occasionally to break up clumps of chia seeds.
Method 3 Learning More about Chia Seeds
- Learn about the nutrition benefits.
The health benefits of chia seeds are sometimes over-reported in news or personal anecdotes, but it is true that they are high-energy foods (partially due to the high fat content) and are good sources of some nutrients. One ounce (30 mL or 2 tbsp) of dry chia seeds contains about 138 calories (138 kcal), 5 grams (g) of protein, 9g of fat, and 10g of fiber.
They provide significant amounts of useful calcium, magnesium, and potassium, even in small servings. They are most likely good sources of antioxidants and mediocre sources of (digestible) Omega-3 fatty acids, both of which may have beneficial health effects.
- Treat other claims with skepticism.
Claims about weight loss, improved heart health, and improved athletic performance have not yet been verified by scientific studies. More than one study has failed to find any benefits of this type from adding chia seed to your diet.
This does not mean that chia seeds are not a healthy food, but don’t expect it to change your health or fitness drastically without making other changes to your diet or exercise routine.
- Choose a small portion size.
Chia seeds are high in fat and calories compared to their size, and can provide significant nutritious benefit even in small servings. The large amounts of fiber they contain may cause digestive issues if eaten in large quantities. While there is no “official” recommended serving size, you may wish to limit yourself to 1 or 2 ounces (30–60mL or 2–4 tbsp) of chia seeds each day, especially when you are adding them to your diet for the first time.
- Know what to expect in taste and consistency.
Chia seeds are relatively bland, with little flavor of their own. When combined with liquids, they take on a gelatinous texture which some people enjoy but other find unpleasant. Fortunately, these qualities make them easy to mix them into other foods. You may eat chia seeds dry, stirred into other foods, or cooked into other foods. None of these methods provide significantly more nutritious benefits than others.
- If eaten plain, chia seeds will actually start to combine with the saliva in your mouth and begin taking on their trademark gel-like consistency.
- Buy high quality, food-grade chia seeds.
Even though these seeds are the same type used in “chia pets” and other gardening applications, it’s best to
consume chia seeds
that are packaged and sold for the purpose of consumption. If you do eat chia seeds intended for planting, make sure they were organically grown, without pesticides or other substances that could make them unsafe for human consumption.
- Chia seeds can be bought in the bulk section or supplement section at most health food stores, or online.
- While chia seeds are often expensive compared to other seeds, keep in mind that a large bag should last a long time if you stick to one or two small daily servings as described above.
- Approach chia seeds with caution if you have kidney problems.
If you have renal failure, or any medical issue that affects the functioning of your kidneys, avoid chia seeds or eat them only in amounts recommended by your nutritionist or doctor. Their high plant protein content produces more waste than other protein sources, which impaired kidneys may not be able to deal with. The high phosphorus and potassium content can also cause itchy skin, irregular heart beat, or muscle weakness if they are not successfully processed.
Method 4 Drinking Chia Seeds
Add chia seeds to smoothies. When preparing any single-serving smoothie or shake, add 1 or 2 tbsp (15–30 ml) chia seeds to the blender or food processor with the other ingredients before blending.
Make “chia fresca.“ Stir 2 tsp (10 ml) chia seeds into 10 oz (310 ml) of water, the juice of 1 lemon or lime, and a small amount of raw honey or agave syrup, to taste.
Stir chia seeds into juice or tea. Add 1 Tbsp (15 ml) chia seeds to an 8-oz (250-ml) glass of juice, tea, or any other warm or hot drink. Allow the drink to sit for several minutes so that the seeds can absorb some of the liquid, creating a thicker beverage.
Add New Question
Can I eat chia seeds in cold water?
Yes, but you may want to add some kind of sweetener/lemon juice or another flavor because it is very bland.
Can I swallow chia seeds with water?
Yes, but you must drink it right away after mixing in water because the seeds expand and become gluey.
Do chia seeds cause any health problems?
For some people they can cause constipation, bloating, or other gastrointestinal issues, but nothing serious.
Can I eat Chia seeds at night?
If you would like to eat Chia seeds at night and are allowed to, then yes you can.
Can I use any other milk, such as Marvel Powder Milk?
How much do they swell after eating?
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- Chia seeds are tiny and have a tendency to get stuck between your teeth when eaten. Consider packing a toothpick or dental floss to use on your pearly whites after consuming them, especially when dry.
- When sprouted, chia can be consumed like alfalfa. Add it to salads and sandwiches.
- If you have impaired kidney function, talk to your doctor or nutritionist before incorporating chia seeds in your diet.
Categories: Specialty Diet Recipes
In other languages:
Italiano: Mangiare i Semi di Chia, Español: comer semillas de chía, Deutsch: Chia Samen essen, Français: préparer des graines de chia, Português: Comer Sementes de Chia, Nederlands: Chiazaden eten, 中文: 吃奇雅子, Русский: употреблять семена чиа, Čeština: Jak jíst semínka chia, 日本語: チアシードの摂取, Bahasa Indonesia: Memakan Biji Chia, ไทย: รับประทานเมล็ดเจีย, العربية: تناول بذور الشيا, Tiếng Việt: Ăn hạt Chia
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Chia seeds (salvia hispanica) have become one of the most popular superfoods in the health community. They’re easy to digest when prepared properly and a very versatile ingredient that adds easily to recipes. Plus, chia seeds benefits are plentiful.
Originally grown in Mexico, the seeds were highly valued for their medicinal properties and nutritional value. In fact, they were even used as currency.
The chia seed is nutrient-dense and packs a punch of energy-boosting power. Aztec warriors ate chia seeds to give them high energy and endurance. They said just one spoonful of chia could sustain them for 24 hours. Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language, and chia seeds were known as “runners’ food” because runners and warriors would use them as fuel while running long distances or during battle.
Not only that, but recent research has found that the chia seeds benefits are even greater than we realized. Chia seeds benefits include promoting healthy skin, reducing signs of aging, supporting the heart and digestive system, building stronger bones and muscles, and more. They’ve even been linked to helping reverse diabetes. Continue reading for possible side effects, preparation instructions and a complete list of chia seeds benefits and nutrients.
Chia Seed Nutrition Profile
The reason chia seeds are so beneficial is due to them being rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.
For example, one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contain about: (1)
- 137 calories
- 12.3 grams carbohydrates
- 4.4 grams protein
- 8.6 grams fat
- 10.6 grams fiber
- 0.6 milligram manganese (30 percent DV)
- 265 milligrams phosphorus (27 percent DV)
- 177 milligrams calcium (18 percent DV)
- 1 milligram zinc (7 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram copper (3 percent DV)
- 44.8 milligrams potassium (1 percent DV)
Chia seeds also contain essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid; mucin; strontium’ vitamins A, B, E and D; and minerals, including sulphur, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, niacin and thiamine; and they’re a rich source of antioxidants.
Top 9 Chia Seeds Benefits
Being rich in so many key nutrients, research has uncovered that regularly eating chia seeds can improve your health in numerous ways. Some of the top chia seeds benefits are:
1. Skin and Aging
Researchers from Mexico uncovered that chia seeds had a total natural phenolic (antioxidants) concentration nearly two times higher than previously reported, and the antioxidant activity was shown to stop up to 70 percent of free radical activity. (2)
This research essentially proves that chia seeds are one of nature’s riches high-antioxidant foods. Antioxidants speed up the skin’s repair systems and prevent further damage. Taking chia seeds can prevent premature skin aging due to inflammation and free radical damage.
2. Digestive Health
Chia is super-high in fiber, providing nearly 11 grams per ounce. One serving can provide the recommended fiber intake for the day, according to the American Dietetic Association.
Fiber is essential for your body’s ability to balance insulin levels. According to the National Institutes of Health, seeds like flax and chia can be a natural blood sugar balancer due to their high fiber content and healthy fats.
Being high in dietary fiber, chia seeds benefits bowel regularity and healthy stool. The rich fiber content in chia seeds also helps people feel more full quicker because it absorbs a considerable amount of water and immediately expands in the stomach when eaten. (3) This may explain why clinical studies have proved that chia curbs hunger and suppresses appetite, which can also lead to weight loss. (4)
Also when consumed, chia seeds create a gelatin-like substance in the stomach. This gel-forming action is due to the soluble fiber in chia seeds, and it can work as a prebiotic that supports the growth of probiotics in the gut.
3. Heart Health
Chia seeds’ ability to reverse inflammation, regulate cholesterol and lower blood pressure make it extremely beneficial to consume for heart health. (5) Also, by reversing oxidative stress, someone is less likely to develop atherosclerosis when he or she regularly consumes chia seeds.
In a nutshell, according to research out of Massachusetts: (6)
The available human and non-human studies show possible effectiveness for allergies, angina, athletic performance enhancement, cancer, coronary heart disease (CHD), heart attack, hormonal/endocrine disorders, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, stroke, and vasodilatation. Some evidence also suggests possible anticoagulant, antioxidant, and antiviral effects of Salvia hispanica.
Chia seeds (salvia hispanica) are high in linoleic acid, a fatty acid that helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. For such a tiny seed, chia is quite high in healthy fats, boasting more omega-3s than salmon. Omega-3s work to protect the heart by lowering blood pressure, bad cholesterol and inflammation. Inflammation can put strain on blood vessels and cause heart disease. So by eating chia seeds, you can boost and protect your heart thanks to the omega-3s — just another example of the amazing chia seeds benefits available.
4. Help Treat Diabetes
Because chia seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid and fiber, researchers from the University of Litoral in Argentina set out to determine how chia seeds can help prevent metabolic disorders like dyslipidemia (excessive fat in the blood) and insulin resistance, which are two factors in the development of diabetes. Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, this research is extremely fascinating because these scientists conducted two studies at the same time and uncovered some profound data: (7)
- The first test evaluated how healthy Wistar rats responded to three weeks of a sucrose-rich diet (SRD) in which chia seeds made up the primary dietary source of fats.
- The second test took healthy rats and fed them a SRD for three months so they developed dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. Then, they fed these newly diseased rats SRD + chia seeds for an additional two months.
The results were astounding:
- During the first examination, eating chia seeds completely prevented the onset of dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. In fact, the blood levels in these rats didn’t change at all in spite of having 65 percent of their diets composed of sugar for three weeks!
- During the second examination, after the dyslipidemic and diabetic rats were fed chia seeds + SRD for two months, they completely recovered from their conditions. The researchers also discovered that the dietary addition of chia seeds also reduced visceral adipose tissue, a “belly fat” tissue that affects the metabolism of the body and is a component of obesity.
In a nutshell, chia seeds were proved to halt diabetes and reverse it, adding that to the list of chia seeds benefits.
5. Boost Your Energy and Metabolism
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning concluded that consuming chia seeds enhanced exercise performance for workouts that lasted 90 minutes the same way a sugar-laden sports drink would, but without all the unhealthy sugar. (8)
In the study, half of the athletes drank 100 percent Gatorade, while the others consumed half Gatorade and half chia drink. The runners’ times were matched and the half-chia group consumed far less sugar.
By adding a serving of chia seeds a day, you can help boost your metabolism and burn belly fat as well. Studies show that the addition of chia seeds to your diet also reduces visceral adipose tissue, a “belly fat” tissue that effects the metabolism of the body and is a component of obesity.
6. Stronger Bones
Just one ounce of chia seeds has about 18 percent of the recommended daily amount of calcium. Calcium is fundamental in bone health and helps maintain bone strength and mass.
Chia also contains boron, which is another essential nutrient for bone health. Boron helps metabolize calcium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus for healthy growth of bones and muscles.
7. Build Muscle and Lose Weight
Chia seeds also rank among the top plant-based sources of protein. This is another reason this super seed is great to consume for those trying to put on lean muscle, burn fat and balance blood sugar levels.
Chia seeds pack a powerful antioxidant punch to help replace some of those nutrients lost when exercising. They’re high in essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, iron and niacin.
One of the characteristics that make chia seeds so unique is they can absorb up to 10 times their own weight in water. Because of this, chia seeds can prolong hydration and improve nutrient absorption of electrolytes. This also slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer, reducing sugar cravings.
Because chia seeds are also high in zinc, they help your body increase leptin. Leptin is a key hormone that regulates appetite, how your body spends energy and regulates your energy levels. It also improves stamina and endurance, making chia a great source of nutrition if you’re looking to get in shape.
8. Fight Breast and Cervical Cancer
Chia seeds are rich in alpha lipoic acid (or ALA), which is an omega-3 fatty acid. In 2013, the Journal of Molecular Biochemistry found that ALA limited the growth of cancer cells in both breast and cervical cancers.
Researchers also found that it caused cell death of the cancer cells without harming the normal healthy cells. While more research still needs to be done to find out the deeper implications of ALA on other types of cancer, this is a great discovery for women struggling with these increasingly common types of cancer. (9)
Thus, chia seeds are cancer-fighting foods, yet another one of the amazing chia seeds benefits you can get when you consume them.
9. Dental Health
With chia seeds packed with calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and zinc, it’s no wonder that they’re a top food to help your teeth. Calcium is the building block of your teeth and necessary for tooth health.
Zinc prevents tartar by keeping plaque from mineralizing onto your teeth and has an antibacterial effect that keeps bad breath germs away. Vitamin A and phosphorus are also important for strong teeth and a healthy mouth.
Chia Seeds Benefits During Pregnancy
These tiny seeds pack such a nutritional punch that expectant mothers should also consider incorporating them into their diets. Pregnancy can deplete your body of important nutrients, and eating chia seeds can help replace those lost nutrients while providing a much needed energy boost. Chia seeds are easy to incorporate into your daily routine and benefit not only the mother’s health, but the baby’s development as well.
Here are the top chia seeds benefits for pregnancy and why they’re among the best superfoods for a healthy pregnancy:
1. Great Source of Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for a baby’s brain development. Most people choose to meet their daily requirements by consuming salmon or fish oil supplements. The mercury content in fish tends to make most pregnant women skeptical, so chia is a great alternative. For such a tiny seed, chia is quite high in omega-3 fatty acids. Typically, nuts and seeds with high fat content have short shelf lives before they turn rancid, but chia seeds are so rich in antioxidants they can be kept in storage for up to four years without deterioration.
2. Replenish Lost Nutrients
Pregnancy is very taxing on the body. Chia seeds pack a powerful antioxidant punch to help replace some of those lost nutrients. They’re high in essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, iron and niacin.
During the final three months of pregnancy, it’s important to get adequate calcium for proper skeletal development. Chia seeds contain almost five times the amount of calcium as milk. An added bonus: They also contain boron, another critical mineral for bone health.
Iron is essential to develop the red blood cells that transport oxygen through the body. During pregnancy, increased iron intake is necessary to accommodate the mother’s increased blood volume and for the development of the baby’s blood.
Chia seeds have shown possible effectiveness for allergies, angina, athletic performance enhancement, cancer, coronary heart disease, heart attack, hormonal/endocrine disorders, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, stroke and vasodilatation. Some evidence also suggests possible anticoagulant, antioxidant and antiviral effects.
3. Slow Sugar Absorption
High blood sugar makes for a risky pregnancy. It’s been linked to complications such as high birth weight, increase chance of C-section deliveries and preeclampsia. When consumed, chia seeds create a gelatin-like substance in the stomach. This slows digestion and keeps blood sugar levels stable.
4. Energy Booster
In addition to slowing sugar absorption, chia also slows down the process of converting sugars and carbohydrates from the seeds into energy. This slow-burning process, in combination with the high protein content, leads to a sustained energy boost.
How to Eat Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have a mild, nutty taste and can easily be added to most dishes as a garnish, yet chewing small seeds like flax or chia generally doesn’t make the omega-3s and other nutrients readily available for digestion and assimilation. The best way to access their vitamins and minerals is to either grind or soak them.
Raw vs. Soaking: There seems to be much debate as to whether you need to soak chia seeds before eating. It won’t hurt to eat them straight, but if you soak them, then you “sprout” them, which releases the “enzyme inhibitors” that are used to protect the seed.
One, this makes it much easier to digest, and two, your body can then access the dense nutrients inside the seeds. In my opinion, you always want to get the most nutrition out of any food that you eat, so I prefer soaking them before adding them to my recipe or smoothie, if possible. Either way, they’re still an excellent source of nutrition.
How to Soak: To soak chia seeds, simply mix them in a 1:10 ratio chia to water. That’s about 1.5 tablespoons chia seeds in one cup of water. It does not have to be exact, but you do want it to gel all the way and not be too watery. Then let them sit for about 30 minutes to two hours.
Since chia seeds can hold up to 12 times their weight in water, they’re wonderful to prevent dehydration. However, if you choose not to soak them, they can also absorb water from you during digestion. So make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated.
Ground: Another option is to grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder or Vitamix to break down the hard outer shells before eating them. When pulverized, chia seed flour can be used in most gluten-free recipes like pancakes, muffins, breads and even pastas. When grinding omega-3-rich seeds, however, it’s important to store them in a sealed, glass container in your refrigerator or freezer.
Whole: Unlike flax seeds, you do not have to grind chia seeds to access their nutrition. You can eat them whole and still get their “energy-packed” punch. You can even just eat a spoonful straight, but beware as they do tend to stick in your teeth.
There are so many reasons to eat chia seeds, and there’s no better time to start than now to get all the wonderful chia seeds benefits.
Chia Seed Recipes
There are so many chia seed recipes so you can get all the wonderful chia seeds benefits. We’re talking everything from chia pudding to adding chia to egg recipes, smoothies, baked good, bars and other delicious healthy eating recipes.
Here are a few of my favorite chia seed recipes:
- Coconut Yogurt Chia Seed Smoothie Bowl
- Keto Smoothie Recipe with Avocado, Chia Seeds & Cacao
- Coconut Chia Protein Pancakes Recipe
Chia Seeds Side Effects
There are very few side effects associated with chia seeds. There has been some conflicting research about the effect of chia seeds on prostate cancer, however. A study done with ALA and prostate cancer showed that this fatty acid could increase the risk of prostate cancer, but the study was later shown to have some bias. (10)
In fact, according to a study in 2010, ALA did not increase prostate cancer risk and actually decreased the risk in participants. (11)
Occasionally, some people may experience stomach discomfort when consuming chia seeds, especially in large amounts, due to the high fiber content. As with any food, eat in moderation and always drink plenty of water.
Final Thoughts on Chia Seeds Benefits
Chia is quite versatile. The seeds can be eaten raw, soaked in water to form a gel or sprouted like alfalfa sprouts. When eaten raw they have a nutlike flavor and are a great addition to your morning quinoa porridge, yogurt or tossed on a salad. They can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water so they’re a great way to thicken up soups or a smoothie.
However you choose to incorporate them in your diet, it’s best to do it gradually. Chia is high in fiber so start out with a small amount and be sure to drink plenty of water. The recommended daily serving is one to two tablespoons of dry seeds. Start out slow and give your body time to adjust to the increased fiber intake. Also make sure to choose an organic brand.
That way, you know you’ll get some amazing chia seeds benefits, such as helping with skin, aging, digestive health, hearth health, diabetes, energy, metabolism, bones, muscle, weight loss, certain cancers, dental health and pregnancy.
Read Next: 21 Chia Seed Recipes You’re Going to Crave
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Chia seeds are harvested from the Salvia hispanica plant, a type of sage in the mint family. The seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and have versatile uses in the kitchen. Chia seeds were a staple of the ancient Aztec diet, and they are now grown commercially in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico. Australia is the biggest producer of chia seeds, which is now marketed under various names. Even the oil extracted from chia seeds are found to have a high nutritional value. Both, seeds and oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antoxidants and amino acids.
Chia seeds may be eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes. Raw, they are an excellent source of dietary fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds may be ground into pinole, a meal that can be used for porridge or baked goods. They may also be soaked in fruit juice or water to make a dish known as chia fresca in Mexico. Chia seeds are very absorbent and develop a gelatinous texture when soaked in water.
In recent decades, chia has seen a resurgence in popularity and has been hailed as a “super food” with many dietary benefits. It helps the body retain fluids and electrolytes, it forms a gel in the stomach that slows the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, and it helps build muscle and other tissues. Chia is a source of protein and boron, which aids in the absorption of calcium. Chia seeds can be used to make a gel that one can substitute for oil or other fats in a variety of recipes. Chia gel can be added to any sauces, jellies, or baked goods, for example.
Making a batch of chia gel is simple. Chia seeds absorb nine times their weight in water, so use a ratio of nine parts water to one part chia seeds. Put the water in a sealable plastic bowl and slowly pour in the seeds while whisking with a wire whisk to prevent clumps. Let stand for a few minutes before whisking again, repeat this process once, then seal the bowl and store the gel in the refrigerator. It will last up to two weeks.
The seeds are not the only important part of the chia plant. The sprouts are also edible and can be used in salads, sandwiches, and other dishes, much like bean sprouts. Chia sprouts may be most familiar to some as the green “fur” of the Chia Pet, a collectible animal-shaped clay figurine.
Chia Seeds Nutrition
There are many reasons as to why chia seeds are said to be healthy and nutritious. The seeds are very low in cholesterol and sodium. So they are considered good for health. They are easy to digest (easier to digest than flax seeds which require grinding) and they contain more nutrients than flax seeds or salmon. Chia seeds are a good source of calcium and phosphorus, and a very good source of dietary fiber and manganese. The seeds are packed with protein, complex carbohydrates (good carbs), essential fats, various vitamins like B vitamins and minerals like calcium, copper, zinc, etc. They are high in antioxidants which strengthen the immune system and keep you disease-free. The seeds provide energy to both mind and body. Given below are details regarding nutrients found in one ounce (approximately 28 g) of chia seeds. Take a look at the table which explains chia seeds nutritional value.
Calories from carbohydrate
Calories from fat
Calories from protein
Total Omega 3 fatty acids
Total Omega 6 fatty acids
Chia Seeds Benefits
Chia seeds are extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium which makes them highly nutritious for daily consumption. Apart from this, chia seeds also contain proteins along with different vitamins and minerals. All these nutrients present in the chia seeds make it worth consuming by people of all age groups, especially, those who suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Apart from being nutritious, chia seeds are associated with many other health benefits.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Being rich in essential fatty acids, chia seeds reduces high blood pressure and is best for cardiovascular health.
Chia seeds health benefits for diabetics have an ability to stabilize blood sugar levels.
The anti-inflammatory properties of chia seeds are beneficial for arthritic patients. It has been found to be effective in reducing the pain and inflammation, associated with the condition.
Chia seeds boost metabolism and also promotes lean muscle mass. It is one of those foods, which is rich nutrients and is filling, but is low in calories. So, chia seeds are used for weight loss and weight maintenance programs.
One of the most important chia seeds health benefits is that they help in improving the function of the brain. The essential fatty acids promote efficient nerve transmission.
Chia seeds are known to increase the energy production in the body. The energy produced by these seeds lasts longer allowing one to perform day-to-day tasks without getting tired and stressed.
They also provide one with stamina and endurance with regular consumption. So people with physically active lifestyle can be benefited from these seeds.
The omega-3 fatty acids in the chia seeds also help you maintain the health of your heart as omega-3 fatty acids are good for body as well as the heart. It is also one of the highest vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also essential for better absorption of fat soluble vitamins, such as, vitamin A, vitamin d, vitamin E, and vitamin K, etc.
The protein and calcium content in chia seeds also help you build muscles and strengthen the bones and hence gifting you with a great physique if combined with regular exercise regimen.
The antioxidants along with minerals and vitamins keep you youthful and improve the condition of your hair and skin making you look younger.
Once soaked in water, these seeds can also be beneficial for those trying to lose weight as the soluble fiber in the chia seeds makes one feel full faster thus controlling the excessive food intake and cravings for fatty foods.
Eating water soaked chia seeds is also known to cleanse the digestive system by eliminating junk build up from the intestines. It also helps you get rid of toxins in the digestive tract.
Another advantage of consuming chia seeds is that they are easily digestible due to fiber content and helps you maintain a smooth digestive system.
Chia seeds absorb a lot of water and hence after consumption they help a person keep well hydrated for longer by retaining the electrolytes present in the body fluids.
Chia seeds do not have a very strong taste unlike other seeds, such as flax seeds, which is why they can be easily used in various recipes without damaging the original taste.
These seeds are so versatile that you can use them in different recipes. You can sprinkle them on salads as seasonings, spread them on your bread mixed with butter, add to your ice creams, milk shakes, sherbets, muffins, pastas, noodles, pizza, and cakes, etc.
Chia seeds are much healthier than flax seeds and do not go rancid. Also, gram per gram, there is more fiber, protein omega 3’s and antioxidants than flax. The best chia seeds are called Mila.
In short, chia seeds are highly concentrated on various nutrition which makes it top the list of wholesome foods packed with multi-nutrients.
Eating two spoonful chia seeds every day in any form can help you stay healthy and fit. But it is advisable to consult your doctor before you include chia seed in your diet as few people have encountered various side effects of chia seeds, such as, gastrointestinal problems, allergies, and blood pressure disorders. Pregnant and lactating mother, people under medication, and unwell patients, etc., should strictly consult their doctor before making it a part of the daily diet. But if chia seeds suit your system then you can add them to your recipes, be it fruit juice, sandwich, or green salad, and it is sure to provide you with great health and vitality improving your immune system.
Chia Seeds Side Effects
Organic chia seeds are usually magnificent storehouses of antioxidants, proteins, fibers, and various flavonoids. They have been given the recognition of being a food item by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of USA and has also definitively been given the stamp that it has no poisonous tendencies at all. Even the American Heart Association (AHA) has proclaimed that coronary heart patients should ingest chia seeds daily, in public interest, seconded by a University of Toronto study. But in spite of all this, fact remains that not enough studies have been conducted on these tiny, oval, mottled seeds and, therefore, both the benefits and side effects of these seeds are yet to be fully known.
Previous observation and limited study has enabled some experts to note some chia seeds side effects.
A few people have complained about gastrointestinal disruptions, such as formation of gas and bloated feeling after ingesting chia seeds. The American Dietetic Association attributes this to chia’s high fiber content (25%).
Chia seeds and its constituents do act as allergens in case of certain individuals, as also pointed out by the European Food Safety Authority. Some people break into reactions when coming into contact with chia protein. Such people are advised to keep away from the seeds. Also it is better if you check for mustard and mustard seed allergies and keep away from chia seeds even in that case.
Homer Hartage, Chief of Nuchia Foods Corporation says that, “Because chia seeds contains omega-3s, which can thin the blood, if you are taking blood thinners, planning surgery or on an aspirin regimen, it is recommended that you consult a doctor prior to use.” This effectively means that even haemophiliacs should keep away from chia seeds.
Chia contains a lot of alpha-linolenic acid. Some research suggests that large amounts of alpha-linolenic acid in the diet might increase the chance of getting prostatecancer. If you have prostate cancer or have a high risk of getting it, avoid eating large amounts of chia.
A research done by the St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada has indicated that chia seeds are potentially capable of lowering diastolic blood pressure to alarming levels. So, low blood pressure patients should steer clear of it.
Chia should be consumed in short phases followed by break periods as some cases have shown people getting addicted to it.
Pregnant and lactating mothers should keep away from chia seeds as not enough researches have been conducted to check for its effects on them.
A super storehouse of vitamin B17, consumption of chia seeds and B17 supplements during the same time period may lead to a phytonutrient overdose.
These are some possible chia seeds side effects that one may have to worry about. However, if you stick to the dosage recommended for chia seeds, you may be able to avert them. Stick to the following dosages after verifying with your doctor.
Adult – 15 grams (2 tbsp.) of chia seeds daily.
For cardiovascular shielding – 33 to 41 grams of blended chia seeds for 3 months daily.
Minors (5 to 18 years) – 1.4 to 4.3 grams of chia seeds daily. Ideally 1 tablespoon for children below 10.
Chia seeds health benefits are truly many in number and can be reaped optimally if taken with care and a little discretion is practiced. Never consume any natural product without the guidance of a doctor. The advice doesn’t change for chia seeds as well. If you happen to be taking medicinal drugs for cancer, blood thinning, blood pressure or may be on other supplements, take special care and DO NOT take chia seeds without proper medical advise. Some people may also be allergic to chia seeds, owing to its high protein content. Allergic reactions usually include watery eyes, diarrhea, and/or skin eruptions. Consult a doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms after consuming chia seeds. These seeds will only help your health conditions if you do not play with dosages and make an effort to keep chia seeds side effects at bay.