Nowadays, if you mention healthy eating to someone, they almost always hint at chia seeds. The edible seeds of the Salvia Hispanica plant, chia seeds, are known as somewhat of a superfood. Every hundred grams of chia seeds has approximately 42 percent iron. This is three times the amount of iron present in the same volume of spinach.
Derived from the Mayan language, ‘chia’ means strength. They were, in fact, a staple food item in Mayan diets. While there are countless health benefits of eating chia seeds, overconsumption or consuming them the wrong way can be harmful too.
Oval in shape, chia seeds are dark grey with occasional black and white spots. These tiny seeds pack a powerful punch of nutrition. Rich in fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium, chia seeds are virtually flavorless. Furthermore, there are over 30 distinct forms of consuming chia seeds since they can be effortlessly added into a wealth of recipes.
Over the past decade, chia seeds have become celebrated all over the world, and people have included them in not just their healthy diets at home, but also in several fancy dishes at cafes and restaurants.
The method of preparation of chia seeds and the way one consumes them is fundamental to achieving the results one’s looking for. Do you eat them independently or mix them in yogurt or a smoothie bowl? Do you soak them in water or milk? Or do you take them dry like any other seeds?
There are several ways of eating chia seeds, and each style is complementary to the benefit you’re trying to extract out of their consumption. Read on to learn the multiple health benefits of chia seeds, how to consume them, buying tips, and how you can make the most of them.
A Few Health Benefits of Eating Chia Seeds
- Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants block the production of free radical cells, thus preventing aging and cancer.
- One ounce of chia seeds has 12 grams of carbohydrates; however, the digestible part is only one gram. The rest is fiber, making it a low carb item.
- A large amount of fiber in chia seeds proliferates the growth of good bacteria in your intestine.
- The high soluble fiber content allows them to expand up to 12 times their weight in water. This increases fullness and encourages you to ingest fewer calories.
- They are high in proteins and amino acids, thus making them an excellent non-meat source. This also reduces tendencies to snack and aids weight loss.
- High quantities of calcium and phosphorus make chia seeds good food for healthy bones, especially for people who are lactose intolerant.
In what form should you consume chia seeds?
As mentioned before, chia seeds are high in fiber. Humans rarely focus much on their fiber intake. While the consumption of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, etc., are talked about and monitored frequently, fiber input is almost always ignored. So a majority of us fail to take in as much fiber as we need.
Now, when someone consumes a food item, such as chia seeds, which happen to be abundant in fiber, after a lengthy interval, the sudden increase of the nutrient in their body can shock their system since the physique is not accustomed to that amount of fiber. This can double the chances of constipation.
Now, the higher the quantity of fiber in a meal, the more water or fluid it absorbs. So if you consume chia seeds in their dry form – whole or milled – they absorb a considerable amount of water and other fluids from your body, leading to a greater probability of acquiring constipation and uneasiness. Therefore, it is highly advisable not to devour chia seeds in their dry form, but to mix and match them with other food items.
To extract the most health benefits from chia seeds, you must include them in recipes with care and precision since adding too many of them will make you feel bloated.
Who should not consume chia seeds?
While chia seeds are a standard eatable and can be consumed by anyone, a few might want to consider some factors beforehand. Since chia seeds are seeds, make sure you are not allergic to them.
Usually, if you are allergic to sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc., you might also be allergic to chia seeds. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a heart condition, are on blood thinners or heavy medication, or suffer from high or low blood pressure, consult a doctor and take their approval before you consume chia seeds.
How to Soak Chia Seeds
Now that we have established that consuming soaked chia seeds is a much better alternative to eating them dry, let us look at the best method of doing so. To start with, one can soak chia seeds in a variety of fluids.
If you wish to have chia water, all you need to do is soak one-third of a cup of chia seeds in two cups of water. If you are looking to increase the number of chia seeds to consume, increase the quantity in this same ratio.
Thus, for one cup of chia seeds, soak it in six glasses of water. Mix it well, and give it a good shake. You can keep this mixture overnight in the fridge to use the next day or do away with it in two to three hours.
Alternatively, if you are looking to add more taste to the chia water, you may insert a dash of lemon juice by squeezing half a lemon in the mixture. You can also use any fruit juice, such as orange juice or grapefruit juice, and soak the chia seeds in them. This allows you to ingest the chia’s nutritional seeds and boost your intake of vitamin C.
If you desire to make various recipes with chia seeds, a more efficient and tastier way to go is by soaking them in milk. Usually, almond milk or coconut milk works best with chia seeds. In any form – soaked, whole, or milled – chia seeds do not lose their nutritional value at all.
Other Fun and Tasty Ways of Consuming Chia Seeds
Chia seeds can thus be eaten whole, milled, or soaked. You can also infuse them in several fluids, such as plain drinking water, lemon water, fruit juices, or milk. If you like the taste of chia seeds and have been feeling better and healthier ever since you started their consumption, it’s fun to try out new tasty recipes to consume chia seeds in unconventional ways.
Drinking chia seeds drink every day can get boring, not just for you, but for your body too. It helps to shake things up a bit and try different recipes. Let’s look into the many fun and tasty methods of snacking on chia seeds, along with how you can prepare them too.
Chia Seeds Tea
Other than juices, you can also make chia seeds tea. Begin by adding the required number of chia seeds in a pot of boiling water. You can incorporate any kind of tea to the brewing pot for flavor – peppermint, chamomile, lemon, ginger, mango, green, black, and more.
Mix well continuously and wait for the chia seeds to soak into the tea thoroughly. Once the chia seeds are completely saturated and well-rested, you can go ahead and enjoy your chia seeds tea. If you prefer to have your tea with milk, you can utilize any kind of milk too. Remember to make sure that the chia seeds have had enough time to soak in the tea.
Chia Seeds Pudding
If you are looking to add an extra spoonful of taste to your serving of chia seeds, try preparing a chia pudding. You can dress it in the same way you make a pudding. Since the dessert needs to have a jelly-like consistency, add a little more chia seeds than you usually would in chia water. Don’t forget to mix well.
You can serve the pudding with any milk. Feel free to put in cocoa powder, vanilla essence, or any other flavor to your chia pudding. If the grainy texture of your chia pudding does not strike adequate to you, you may employ finely milled chia seeds for a more pudding-like consistency.
Chia Seeds in Guacamole, Hummus, or Greek Tzatziki Sauce
Items such as guacamole, hummus, or Greek Tzatziki sauce are already profoundly nutritious and surprisingly filling. However, if you desire a more filling and healthier serving, chia seeds can do untold wonders.
You can add chia seeds to these either in their whole form or milled; make sure that they are soaked well so that they do not stand out in them. This addition of chia seeds makes guacamole, hummus, and Greek Tzatziki sauce an immensely satisfying food item. If you want a more grainy texture, you can consider adding them whole. However, for a smooth consistency, choose milled chia seeds.
Chia Seeds in Smoothies
Chia smoothies are a super healthy option to go for. Make sure you have soaked the chia seeds for a sufficient duration before you combine them with your smoothie. You can pair them up with a variety of ingredients too.
Be it a blueberry smoothie (or any other berries), a banana smoothie, or smoothies with nuts and seeds, you can add soaked chia seeds to pack a more compelling punch of nutrition. You can even mix in a couple of fruits to the smoothie as toppings.
As an additional garnish, try spreading out the soaked chia seeds on top. Since they have a gel-like consistency, chia seeds sit on top of the smoothie easily when utilized as a garnish. They do not dissolve unless you mix them in the smoothie with a spoon.
Chia Seeds Cereal
We can use chia seeds as a substitute for other cereals. Soak them overnight in the right portion of milk. You can use the milk of your choice for chia cereals – regular milk, almond milk, soy milk, etc. Mix them well, and leave them overnight. In the morning, shake the gel-like mixture well so that it’s adequately stirred up. Now, you can transfer this blend to your cereal bowl and add a host of other toppings, such as bananas, berries, or any other item that you like – be it nuts, seeds, cinnamon, or nutmeg.
Chia Seeds in Salads
While chia seeds can be used dry or after soaking them in water, most people prefer them in their salads as dry seeds. Sprinkle a handful of chia seeds into your salad and get eating! Chia seeds make for yet another healthy and tasty combination with salads.
They mix up well with fruit salads and those with meat in it – whole chicken pieces, shredded chicken, fish, crabs, lobsters, etc. They bring in a nice nutty flavor and also make them more nutritious. Remember to mix them up well in the salad or they might clump together with the sauces.
Chia Seeds Baked in Bread, Cakes, and Cookies
Chia seeds can be used well in baking. Grab hold of some milled chia seeds and combine them with the flour. Add other ingredients and mix it up thoroughly. You might notice that you need a little more water to make the dough than usual. That’s simply because the milled chia seeds absorb a significant chunk of water. Moving on, bake this dough like you usually would for any other bread.
Chia seeds in baked bread supplement a bundle of nutrition. Some people choose to add whole chia seeds in the dough. This gives the bread a multigrain-like feel. Soak the chia seeds in water, add them to the dough, and beat well. You can use them the same way in cakes and cookies too.
Chia Seeds in Jam
Soaked chia seeds work as a great substitute for pectin in jams. Pectin is dissolved in jam to reduce the cooking time, but it is bitter. So to eliminate the bitter taste, jam makers supply a massive amount of refined sugar to the product. The regular packaged variety of jam is actually quite harmful to your health.
Chia seeds in jam make it a healthy option since chia seeds absorb a lot of water, thus reducing the cooking time and eliminating the need for pectin. As a result, one needn’t enforce exorbitant quantities of refined sugar, thus enabling the natural flavors of the fruits hidden in the spread to come out better. It’s worth knowing that you can use chia seeds in any fruit jam that you like.
Chia Seeds in Yogurt
Chia seeds bring out maximum levels of nutrition to already healthy yogurts. You can add milled chia seeds along with other crushed nuts and seeds, and either use them as toppings or mix them in the yogurt. You may also incorporate whole and dry chia seeds on top of your yogurt if you require a more grainy texture in every spoon.
To add flavor and make the yogurt more filling, try combining several other fruits with this recipe. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, kiwis, bananas, and mangoes work best for this; however, any other fruit is suitable. Finish it up with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, and you are good to go.
Buying Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are readily available in the market at several local grocery stores. You may find them in the produce section or the nuts and seeds aisle. Nowadays, several of the big players among supermarkets have started a ‘superfood’ section where you might find them.
Sometimes, milled chia seeds can be found in the baking section. It’s possible to purchase chia seeds at health food stores too. A few popular brands of chia seeds are The Chia Co. and Bob’s Red Mill. Make sure you buy chia seeds with several black and white spots since those qualify as the matured ones. Immature chia seeds are browner, have less nutritional value, and are bitter.
How to Store Chia Seeds
It is crucial to store chia seeds with care, preferably in airtight containers. If the box you bought the chia seeds in is still intact and in good shape after you’ve opened it, you might as well use the same vessel. Keep the box in a cool and dry place. Chia seeds have a long shelf life and do not go bad for almost four to five years.
Never use a wet spoon to scoop out the seeds from the container. Two tablespoons of chia seeds twice per day are the recommended portion for adults. You can always increase the share if you’d like. Once you have your chia seeds well stored, use them in several recipes and enjoy!