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Chia Seeds: Benefits of the Fiber-Packed Superfood Plus 6 Nutritious Ways to Eat Them

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Ch-ch-ch-chia … Of course we’re talking about the amazing chia seed here and not the late night infomercial pet.

The chia seeds we’re discussing are so much cooler than a terracotta figurine where moistened chia seeds sprout in a couple of weeks to resemble hair. But what’s all the fuss about chia seeds, anyway?

Well, these small but mighty seeds are thoroughly packed with nutrients and health benefits, that’s what!

Read on to learn more about these nutrient powerhouses plus six recipes with chia seeds to easily incorporate them into your healthy lifestyle.

What Are Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) are the tiny edible seeds of a flowering plant in the mint family. This superfood has historically been valued as a vital crop with medicinal, religious and nutritional properties.

Ancient civilizations such as the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas supposedly incorporated chia into their diets for energy. Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language and the seeds were eaten by warriors for sustenance during battle. Together with beans, corn, squash, and amaranth, chia seeds were an important part of the diet of these indigenous peoples, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Benefits of Eating Chia Seeds

Superfoods are particularly high in either one or a combo of antioxidants, fiber, healthy fats (essential fatty acids), and phytonutrients. Chia seeds fall under this definition.

Packed with nutrients

Chia seeds offer a long list of important nutrients which are essential for good health. They are high in:

  • Fiber
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • High-quality protein
  • Minerals (such as manganese and calcium)
  • Antioxidants (including quercetin, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and kaempferol)

Help prevent chronic health issues

Need further proof of their superfood status? Chia seeds are popular for their ability to improve digestive health and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. What’s not to love?

Great for weight loss and constipation

“If you’re wondering how to eat chia seeds, they’re super easy to add to any meal. You can sprinkle them on salads, stir into yogurt or smoothies, or add to baked goods,” says Nutritious Life founder Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN. “One tablespoon has only 70 calories and will contribute greatly to feeling satisfied, which also makes chia seeds great for weight loss. Plus, the soluble fiber in chia seeds is helpful for easing constipation. “

RELATED: 3 Edible Seeds That Make Awesome Snacks

Cooking With Chia Seeds

Looking for more inspiration to cook with chia seeds? Here are six clever recipes to help you easily include chia in your diet.

Strawberry Chia Jam

antioxidant-packed recipes

You’ll say buh bye to Smuckers (or other store-bought jams) forever after tasting this strawberry chia version.

Chia seeds’ natural gelling capability makes them ideal for foods like jams and puddings, where they act as a thickener. Why are chia seeds so great at thickening? It’s mainly due to the soluble fiber in them (which is great for helping move things along the digestive tract!) but also because their outer shell is hydrophilic, which gives them the ability to absorb over 10 times their weight in liquid! (If that’s not a superpower, we don’t know what is!)

Use chia seeds to make this fruity spread (created by an alum of the Nutritious Life Studio’s Become a Nutrition Coach program) and you’ll also be getting fiber, minerals, protein, omega-3s and antioxidants on your morning toast–all without the refined sugar.

Overnight Chia Pudding with Berries

mason jar of overnight chia with berries and a spoon

This overnight pudding will quickly become a family favorite.

On top of the fiber-rich chia, you get an extra fiber boost with the blueberries and strawberries, helping you to feel full and satisfied longer.

Walnut Chia Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate thumbprint cookies

Looking for a healthy cookie recipe? Look no further than these decadent—yet nutritious—chocolate thumbprint cookies. They’re fun to make, too!

Walnuts are the top nut for brain health, chia seeds are the top seed for heart health, and both are loaded with good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids. Throw in some dark chocolate for an extra antioxidant boost, and you might just have a cookie on the verge of being … dare we say it … healthy!

Gluten-Free Celery Chia Clove Muffins

This celery muffin is pleasantly mild, and it’s even tastier when toasted and topped with a bit of salted grass-fed butter or some strawberry jam (see above for our strawberry chia jam for a double whammy of chia!). The celery is a nutritional powerhouse (to many people’s surprise!) that gets amped up with chia seeds.

With its healthy amounts of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, this recipe is great for keeping blood glucose levels nice and steady–perfect for those who are watching their blood sugar.

Nut and Seed Bread (With Chia)

grain-free foods

Don’t get hung up on the word “bread” here because there’s nothing bready about this recipe. But you will be able to eat the finished product like bread, even though it’s totally gluten- and grain-free.

The ingredients in this recipe include a simple mix of nuts and seeds (including chia!) bound together with an egg and a pinch of salt, then baked for 25 minutes. Nothing could be easier, or more satisfying.

Yerba Mate Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding

high-protein breakfast recipes

Another healthy way to enjoy that pumpkin spice flavor? Yes, please.

Chia pudding is a protein- and healthy fat-packed dish that can be eaten for breakfast, dessert, or as a post-workout snack.

Add pumpkin spice and it’s even more delicious than usual. Add Argentine Yerba Mate and it also comes with an extra energy boost. It’s filled with antioxidant-rich spices and superfood chia seeds and tastes like bliss. Ch-ch-ch-chia!

(Images: Shutterstock)

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