What Is Chia?
Chia, also known as Salvia hispanica, is a superfood that dates all the way back to Mayan and Aztec cultures.
In fact, chia is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” Historians believe chia to have been just as important as maize as a food source in pre-Columbian times for the Aztecs.
Today, this edible whole grain seed is grown primarily in Mexico. Unlike flaxseed, chia can be consumed whole. The taste and uses for it are similar to that of a tapioca pearl.
Nutritional Benefits of Chia
One ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contains:
- Fiber: 11 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s)
- Calcium: 18% of the RDA
- Manganese: 30% of the RDA
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDA
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA
They also contain zinc, potassium, vitamin B-1 (thiamine), vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B-3 (niacin).
Fiber in Chia Seeds
Thanks to fiber, chia is a low-carb superfood!
Of the 12 grams of carbs in chia, 11 of those are fiber. The high fiber content causes the seeds to absorb 10-12 times their weight, which helps you feel fuller faster.
Theoretically, this helps decrease calorie intake and food consumption. By weight, chia seeds are 40% fiber, making some one of the world’s best sources of fiber.
Protein in Chia Seeds
Chia is 14% protein by weight—twice as much protein as other seeds.
Protein acts as a weight loss nutrient and assists in energy production. When combining chia with liquid, a gel forms that helps slow the conversation of carbohydrates into sugar, thus benefitting metabolic rates and endurance.
This makes chia a staple for athletes. This combination of protein and calcium in chia also helps support bone health.
Antioxidants in Chia Seeds
Chia is high in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals in the body. Antioxidants are also responsible for protecting the delicate fats in the seeds, preventing them from going rancid.
Chia Seeds: Black or White?
What's the difference between black and white chia seeds?
Not much, actually. Chia seeds contain the same nutritional value whether they’re black or white.
Different regions produce different colors, but you’ll receive the same benefits no matter which one you consume. That being said, some people prefer going the organic route, so make sure to check whether or not the seeds are organic, like our Organic Black Chia Seed.
Chia Seeds as an Egg Replacement
Chia seeds are the perfect egg substitute for vegans or those who don’t like eggs. Combine one tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water to equal one egg.
Chia Seed Uses
Chia seeds can absorb over 9 times their weight in water, making them an extremely versatile ingredient frequently used as a recipe thickener.
We asked our Facebook fans how they use chia seeds, and the responses below were the most popular uses.
- thicken gravy/soup
- replace breadcrumbs in meatball recipe
- make grain free crackers
- sprouted for salads
- making an energy gel
- breading for fish or chicken
- grind seeds with hot milk for “oatmeal”
- chia pets
- add to oatmeal
- drink them with water
- smoothie thickener
- add to cereal
- put in egg omelets
- give to dog in dog food
- chia pudding (Read Next: 13 Chia Pudding Recipes I Want To Try)
- put in yogurt
Recipes with Chia Seeds
No Bake Cherry Chia Bars
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1/3 cup almond butter
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- Add all ingredients to a food processor.
- Grind until a paste is formed, about 2 minutes.
- Add mixture to a baking tray and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Slice into bars and serve.
Chocolate Chia Mousse
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup cacao powder
- Add all ingredients to a blender.
- Let sit for 10 minutes to allow chia seeds to expand.
- Once it has formed a tapioca consistency, puree the mixture for 30 seconds or until smooth.
- Pour into serving cups and let set for 4 hours.
- Top with your favorite fruit.
Whole Wheat Vegan Chia Seed Pancakes (Source: Natural Chow)
- 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 Tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups organic rice milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- In a medium bowl, mix together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, chia seeds, and cinnamon until combined.
- Add the rice milk, vanilla extract, honey and apple cider vinegar and stir until just combined.
- Let the batter sit for 5 minutes to thicken up.
- Preheat and lightly grease a griddle or skillet on medium-low heat.
- Using a measuring cup, pour slightly less than 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet to form each pancake.
- When the pancakes begins to bubble and the edges start to look dry, flip them over and cook the other side.
- Remove the pancakes from the skillet and serve warm. Top as desired.
Additional Recipes Featuring Chia Seeds
- Pomegranate Chia Lemonade
- Coconut Raspberry Chia Pops
- Hemp Seed Smoothie
- Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies