It seems that every year or so, there’s a “new” ingredient taking the nation by storm. Kale, quinoa, acaí berries and more have all had their time in the limelight in recent years, and now it’s time to embrace the glory of the chia seed.
Chia seeds are tiny, black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica, they grow natively in South America and were an important food staple for the Aztecs and Mayans, who valued them for their ability to provide sustainable energy and endurance.
Today, they are touted as a modern-day superfood. But what are their health benefits and different ways to use them? Read on to learn the various health benefits of chia seeds and 5 recipes to include them into your diet.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have, in recent years, exploded in popularity for their plethora of health benefits. Who knew such tiny little seeds could pack such a nutritional punch?
1. They are rich in fiber.
Per ounce, chia seeds have a whopping 10 grams of fiber. Fiber is critical to maintaining a healthy gut: from promoting digestion, aiding in weight loss and lower cholesterol levels.
2. They’re nutrient rich.
Chia seeds contain a number of essentials nutrients such as manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. Additionally, chia seeds are high in many important bone nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and protein. Their calcium content comes in at a whopping 18 percent of the RDA in a single ounce, making them a great alternative for anyone who doesn’t eat dairy, as gram for gram, this is higher than most dairy products. Amazing, huh?
3. They’re a good source of omega-3s.
Chia seeds a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, the good kinds of fat! In fact, they even contain more omega 3s than salmon, gram for gram. However, since they are primarily made up of ALA omega 3s, it’s important to still be eating other sources of EPA omega 3s.
4. They’re loaded with antioxidants.
Chia seeds contain antioxidants which work to fight the production of free radicals that can damage molecules and cause aging and diseases like cancer. Score!
5. They can lower LDL cholesterol.
A diet including chia seeds has also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol and reduce inflammation, all of which can work to lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Related: 6 Foods That Fight Inflammation
How To Eat Chia Seeds
Chia seeds on their own are bland in taste, but this makes it easy to add them to pretty much anything. They don’t need to be ground like flax seeds either, so they’re much easier to prepare. Eaten sprinkled on top of toast and salads for added crunch, soaked in a liquid like milk, incorporated into oatmeal and pudding, or included in baked goods, there are plenty of ways you can play with these super seeds.
Since they absorb water and fat well, they’re also great for thickening sauces and even using as an egg substitute for recipes. No matter how you use chia seeds, adding them into your foods will boost nutritional value.
5 Healthy Chia Seed Recipes
Feeling inspired to boost your health with these tiny nourishing powerhouses? Then let’s get started! We have a variety of fun and easy recipes to help you include chia seeds into your diet.
- For Breakfast: Overnight Oatmeal: Peanut Butter & Honey Chia Oats
Overnight oatmeal is the go-to option for mornings on-the-go. This recipe will fill you up, fuel your day and satisfy you, too, thanks to the combination of peanut butter, honey, chia seeds and oats.
This sweet snack is gluten-free and packed with protein and healthy fats that will keep you energized all day long.
- For Lunch: Power Salad with Lemon Chia Seed Dressing
This salad is vegan, gluten-free and full of healthy ingredients your taste buds will love. Store-bought dressings can come complete with a high-calorie count, but this easy-to-make option is zesty and nutritious.
- For Dinner: Quick & Easy Salmon Rub
For a fun and crunchy crust to your salmon, this simple recipe will do the trick. A few pinches of chia seeds mixed with some salt, pepper and olive oil is all you need to spread on your fish before baking or grilling.
- For Dessert: Coconut Chia Seed Parfait
A sensational smoothie for dessert, this big, thick and creamy bowl of goodness is packed with healthy ingredients and satisfying for the sweet tooth.