I’m sure we all remember the Chia Pets from the 1970s and 80s. They came in cute characters such as Scooby Doo and animals like hedgehogs. But aside from producing a grassy head of hair, did you know that the seeds are edible and even considered a superfood? There is so much more to them than the old clay sculpture.
20 Benefits of Chia Seeds and Ways to Use Them
- Chia seeds are gluten free. With all the rising complications from gluten in some people’s diets, chia seed can be substituted as a grain.
- Chia seeds can be used as an egg substitute. Just mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 15 minutes. The seeds will form a gelatinous coating on the outside and blend very well. A single egg can be replaced with 3 tablespoons of this chia gel.
- Chia seeds are very stable. Add them to your food cache and you can use them for up to two years. They will not go rancid like some grains do.
- Chia seeds are high in antioxidants, making them great for overall health. (The high antioxidant content is probably why they keep for so long.)
- Chia seeds may help to lower cholesterol. There is some evidence (based on studies by the Cleveland Clinic) that they might be effective in lowering LDL and triglycerides.
- Chia seeds contain tryptophan. Yes, just like turkey, chia seeds can make you feel sleepy. Tryptophan also helps to regulate moods and appetite.
- Chia seeds are high in protein. Just one ounce has 4.4 milligrams without the fat associated with many other forms of protein.
- Chia seeds contain a lot of phosphorus. Just a single ounce contains as much as 27% of the recommended amount an adult should have every day. Phosphorus is good for bones and teeth and helps to support tissue growth and repair.
- Chia seeds contain 30% of the RDA of the manganese an adult needs, another component of building healthy bones and teeth.
- Chia seeds can help to slow down digestion. While some may not want this, diabetics can benefit from sugars not entering into the blood stream quite as fast. Thus, it could be helpful in regulating blood sugar.
- Chia seeds contain 18% of the body’s daily needs for calcium. Calcium is important not only for bones and teeth, but muscles as well.
- Chia seeds are high in fiber. They do contain 12 grams of carbohydrates (per ounce), but 11 grams of those are fiber, which is used by the body but not absorbed. Fiber is important for healthy digestion.
- Chia seeds are very high in Omega-3 fatty acids. There are nearly 5 grams of Omega-3s in just one ounce of chia seeds.
- Chia Pets! Of course, who can forget Chia Pets? They make great gifts and did you know that if you keep growing them you can collect the seeds and use them?!
- Chia seeds are digestible whole. Unlike many other grains, they do not need to be ground up for the body to be able to use them.
- Chia seeds contain good amounts of other nutrients. These include zinc, Vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, Vitamin B1 (thiamine), and Vitamin B2.
- Chia seeds are low in calories. They can be eaten without the worry of extra weight gain.
- Chia seeds can be toasted in a pan and used as a salad garnish or made into granola-type bars.
- Chia seeds can be made into drinks. When they get wet, they form a gel on the outside (some say it tastes a bit like watermelon) and can be put into beverages, like protein drinks or smoothies.
- Chia is a plant in the mint family that is grown for its seeds. It was first used by the Aztecs in Mexico and has been slowly catching on here recently.
- Chia seeds can be made into pudding. Here’s a great recipe I found and use a few times a month:
Simple & Delicious Chia Seed Pudding
(makes about 4 servings)
- 1 cup milk (any type of milk you like)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt, unsweetened
- 2 tablespoons sweetener – can be honey, maple syrup, cane sugar, etc.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (learn to make your own vanilla extract)
- ¼ cup chia seeds (find organic chia seeds here)
- ⅛ teaspoon salt (find unrefined sea salt here)
- 2 cups fresh berries (I like strawberries and raspberries)
- Mix together the liquid ingredients, the salt and a tablespoon of the sweetener, reserving a tablespoon for the next day.
- Stir in the chia seeds and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Stir, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, chop the fruit if you wish and mix it with a tablespoon of your sweetener. Spoon the pudding into 4 bowls and top with fruit. Enjoy!
Have you experimented with chia seeds? What are you using them for? Share with us in the comments below!