A few different people have asked me about chia seeds in the past couple of months. After we got over the realization that chia seeds could be used for something other than a “pet,” we began to wonder: What are they? Should we be eating them? How do we use them?
Chia seeds have shown up at health food stores and are definitely creating a buzz. I have always believed that seeds in general get overlooked all too often, causing us to miss out on their numerous nutritional benefits.
Considered a superfood by many, chia seeds come from the chia herb, and are best known for their high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to healthy fats, chia seeds provide protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and many other important minerals. Chia seeds were traditionally used by Aztec warriors and were known to sustain them for 24 hours. Medicinally, the seeds were once used to stimulate saliva, ease joint pain, and protect the skin (source). This makes perfect sense. Many of my clients with joint pain or skin issues see significant improvement when we increase their omega-3 fatty acid intake!
Chia seeds seem like an obvious food to include into our diet. They are fairly easy to use, and tend to add more texture than taste, so go well in many different recipes. When added to water, the chia seeds form a gel-like substance. This usually takes around 10-30 minutes. The gel slows digestion and absorption once in the stomach, causing us to feel full for longer periods of time and preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar.
Below are some ideas for how to incorporate chia seeds into your diet:
- Add them to smoothies (after blending) and allow to sit for 10 minutes so the gel forms
- Add to oatmeal after cooking
- Mix into plain yogurt along with some raw honey and fruit
- Add to rice or quinoa after cooking or towards the end of cooking
- Grind them into a flour and use in baking
- Add chia seeds to your almond butter or other nut butter
- Add chia seeds into soups for thickening and extra nutrition
- And for the urban farmers out there, adding chia seeds to chicken feed increases the omega-3 and vitamin content in the eggs!
This website contains some more information about how to incorporate chia seeds into your diet.
I hope that clarifies things for those of you who have yet to try chia seeds. I have been using them in oatmeal and smoothies for my toddler. Since her diet needs to contain very high levels of fats, adding chia seeds to her food is a great way to ensure she is getting the fats she needs to support proper growth and brain development.