New Superfood: Chia Seeds?

By J. M. Graham ("Crabby McSlacker")

118-chia frog.jpg

Chia seeds — yep, the same ones that will eventually grow into one of those goofy chia pets if you encourage them–are being called the newest Superfood.

Are they any good for you? And what the heck do you do with them?

Chia Growing in Popularity

According to an article about Chia seeds in the San Jose Mercury News, these formerly obscure seeds are getting quite a bit more popular, especially after being endorsed by “Dr. Oz” from the Oprah Winfrey show.

Online orders are suddenly booming and health food chains are starting to carry them as well as many supermarkets.

Where Do Chia Seeds Come From?

They come from a plant relative of the mint called salvia hispanica, and the Aztecs used to eat them.

Apparently the seeds were known for increasing endurance–useful whether you’re an Aztec warrior or a mother with three kids.

So What’s So Good about Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds are high in:

  • Protein;
  • Fiber;
  • Magnesium,
  • Calcium, and, best of all,
  • ALA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. (In fact chia seeds contain more Omega-3’s than any other plant source, including flaxseed).

An ounce of chia seeds contains 137 calories, and will get you four grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber.

Research?

2947-chia-seeds-health.jpgA lot of the health claims seem to come from looking at the nutritional profile of Chia seeds, rather than from actually studying what happens when people eat them.

But a 2007 study of 20 diabetics did show some impressive health benefits.

Patients who ate up to four teaspoons of chia seeds every day for three months:

  • reduced their blood clotting factors by 20 per cent;
  • reduced markers for inflammation by 30 per cent;
  • increased the levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids by 80 per cent; and
  • dropped six units in systolic blood pressure.

However, researchers were studying a particular kind of Chia variant called “salba.” Salba seeds are white rather than the usual black, and the supplier of the seeds, Salba Nutritional Solutions, also just happened to be a sponsor of the study.

According to an interview with the lead researcher, Dr. Vladimir Vuksan, “one hundred grams of Salba contains as much omega-3 fatty acid as a 32-ounce Atlantic salmon steak, as much magnesium as 10 stalks of broccoli, as much calcium as 2½ cups of milk and as much iron as half a cup of kidney beans.”

So What Do They Taste Like?

I was talked into to trying chia seeds by the health blogger MizFit. (Beware: she is very persuasive).

So with some trepidation I swallowed a spoonful of them and…

They kind of taste like nothing.

On the plus side, this makes them easy to sprinkle into other foods. You can make them into muffins or even drink them. On the other hand, they’re not a snack you’d look forward to like some other healthy fats–say peanut butter or avocados.

Ways to Eat Chia Seeds

  • Add to oatmeal
  • Mix into hamburgers
  • Add to marinara sauce
  • Add to Chili and soups
  • Add to baked goods

Have you tried Chia seeds? How do you eat them?

91 Comments

  1. Jeetu Melwani

    It sounds great! can’t wait to try it Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  2. Pete

    I take Chia seeds daily with my breakfast and think they are great. I like to workout so the extra vitamins help to repair my muscles.

    Reply
  3. stephy derry

    hello,
    As I have read the blog above, I was glad that there are varieties to choose and be bought in the market. The seeds really interests me. I wanna buy one of those varieties.

    Reply
  4. Carolyn

    Could you direct me to your site? I love to read your posts…

    Reply
  5. Guest

    ALA hasn’t proven to be even close to as effective as DHA and EPA. The conversion rate of the body from ALA to more effective versions of omega-3 fatty acids is somewhere from 8% to 10%. You can eat ALA all day long and it won’t really do much for your heart or brain. But the other nutrients in chia seeds are very useful, and it was nice of you to post on those.

    Reply
  6. OCFitMom

    How long are CHIA SEEDS good for (in the frig)?

    I just started adding them to my shakes in the morning….

    I’m not sure how long the store has them in their bins. I buy 2-3 cups at a time.

    Reply
  7. Esther Northington

    I live in southern Utah & wonder if chia plants will grown here?

    Reply
  8. marquita

    I ate 2 tablespoons of chia dry and then drank 4 cups of water. Will I be ok?

    Reply
  9. Kim Fowley

    I made pudding with it. I put a tablespoon of chia seeds into a bowl, then covered the seeds with vanilla soy milk and sprinkled cinnamon on top. I let it sit for about an hour. It tastes like tapioca pudding. It is soooooo yummy!

    Reply
    • Gretchen

      Wow that sounds really good I will have to try that I usually just mixing in my yogurt

      Reply
  10. El chamaco

    I’ve been eating chia for years–it is a great, nutritious food that shouldn’t be intimidating. My favorite way to eat it is with cereal. I put my “milk” (almond/hemp/rice, etc.)in the bowl and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of chia seeds. If you put the seeds in first, they tend to clump. I mix the floating seeds into the milk and let stand for 10 or 20 minutes. Then I add my cereal and eat. The chia seeds absorb some moisture from the milk and the outer part of the seed becomes gelatinous. I love the texture, but it might take some getting used to. Kids love chia.

    Reply