What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are small gray, black, or white seeds that are produced from the chia plant, Salvia hispanica.
Chia seeds are very rich in nutrients, and became extremely popular over the last decade due to their potential health and weight loss benefits.
Chia seeds can be eaten dry or cooked. Raw or dry chia seeds are safe to eat, but are typically mixed with other foods or soaked before eating to help with digestion and absorption.
Chia seeds nutrition
Two tablespoons (28 grams or 1 oz.) of chia seeds contains about 140 calories, 8 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of dietary fiber, and 5 grams of protein.
Chia seeds contains tons of health benefits and are an excellent source of:
Chia seeds are a complete plant-based protein source, containing all 8 essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and play an important role in protein synthesis in our bodies.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds contains 5 grams of protein.
2. Dietary Fiber
Chia seeds are a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber slows digestion, keeping us feeling full longer, and helping us maintain stable blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber can also interfere with the absorption of dietary cholesterol, helping manage our LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels.
Insoluble fiber isn’t digested by the body, and therefore helps food pass through your digestive system and prevent constipation.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds contains 10 grams of dietary fiber.
Chia seeds are packed with healthy fats, 75% of which are omega-3 fatty acids. Since our bodies cannot produce omega-3s, they are considered an essential fatty acid, meaning we need to get this healthy fat from the foods that we eat. Omegas-3s are an important component of our cells, and play several critical roles in the body, including acting as an energy source and reducing inflammation.
Chia seeds are packed with antioxidants, which help break down free radicals in our bodies that lead to disease. In addition, antioxidants also play an important role in cell function, which ultimately help our bodies work more effectively.
Chia seeds are a great sources of essential minerals, particularly iron, calcium, and magnesium.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds contains 23%, 17%, and 12% of the recommended dietary intakes of magnesium, calcium, and iron, respectively.
What are the health benefits of chia seeds?
Because of their nutritional profile, incorporating chia seeds into your diet can help you reap the benefits associated with their key nutrients.
Health benefits may include:
- Weight loss
- Weight maintenance
- Lower LDL cholesterol
- Increase HDL cholesterol
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced risk of heart disease
Chia seeds for weight loss
One study found that eating just 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of chia seeds daily increases satiety and decreases food intake. Another study showed that 6 months of eating about 2 tablespoons of chia seeds per day resulted in greater weight loss and improvements in health markers in individuals who are overweight or obese with type 2 diabetes. Overall, studies have shown mixed outcomes, meaning that eating chia seeds will not guarantee weight loss.
Because high protein and fiber content of chia seeds, incorporating chia seeds into your meal plan, along with other healthy eating and exercise habits, can be an effective strategy in helping you achieve your weight loss goals.
While there is no “set” amount of chia seeds to eat to achieve your weight loss goals, one serving (or 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds provides you with up to 10% of your daily protein requirements and 25% of your daily dietary fiber requirements, with less than 150 calories.
What are chia seeds used for?
Chia seeds are versatile! There are countless ways that you can swap them, mix them, or use them to reap their health benefits every day.
- The main event: By themselves, chia seeds can be used as one of the main ingredients in recipes such as chia seed pudding or chia seed jam.
- Swaps: When combined with liquid, the soluble fiber coating chia seeds forms a gel. If you mix 1 tbsp. chia seeds with 3 tbsp. water and let it sit for at least 15 minutes, this mixture can be used as an egg replacement for an egg-free or vegan baking recipe.
- Toppings: Add nutrition and crunch to any meal or snack. Chia seeds are a great topping for oatmeal, yogurt, and smoothies/smoothie bowls.
- Mix ins: Mixing chia seeds in smoothies, muffins, breads/loaves, applesauce, and more is a great way to benefit add a boost of nutrition to your food. You can also use ground or whole chia seeds in your favorite breading mixture;
45 recipes for using chia seeds to lose weight
These recipes are a great place to help you achieve your weight loss and health goals. Start with one recipe each day, and you’ll be reaping the benefits in no time!
Chia seed pudding, oatmeal, and smoothies
Chia seed pudding, oatmeal, and smoothies are the most common ways to enjoy this super seed. Start your day off right with these simple, nutritious, and delicious recipes!
Chia seed sauces and spreads recipes
Chia seeds add a great texture to sauces and spreads, and most of the time, you can’t even taste them!
Chia seed breads, tortillas, muffins, and loaf recipes
Chia seeds add a burst of protein, fiber, and texture to these carb-y classics.
Chia seed snack recipes
These low-calorie, protein-packed recipes are a great snack ideas to reap the benefits of chia seeds for weight loss.
Other chia seed recipes
When it comes to chia seeds, the limit does not exist. These less common chia seed recipes will please even the pickiest palates.