Chia means “strength” and these seeds pack a powerful punch when it comes to nutrition. One ounce (2 Tbsp.) contains 137 calories, 12 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fat and 4 ½ grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, 18% of your daily value for calcium, 4915 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and are antioxidant rich. That’s more fiber than 3 apples, the calcium equivalent of ½ cup milk and the omega-3 equivalent of 2 servings of salmon!
Recent research suggests that including chia seeds as part of a healthy diet may improve your cardiovascular risk factors such as lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. This is likely due in part to their high fiber, antioxidant and omega-3 content. Some studies suggest that chia seeds can help you feel fuller longer and may enhance blood sugar control. However results are mixed, many are animal based and human studies have only a small number of research participants.
Individuals on blood thinners such as Coumadin or who are on high blood pressure medications should talk with their physicians before using chia seeds. People who are sensitive to mustard or sesame seeds, oregano or thyme may also react to chia seeds.
How to Use Chia Seeds
These tiny white and black seeds can be eaten whole if you like a crunch or ground and have a mild, nutty flavor. You can sprinkle them onto cereal, salad, yogurt, sandwiches, vegetables, rice or smoothies. They can be mixed into flour to enhance the nutritional content of your baked goods whether its muffins, cookies or cake.
In cooking, chia seeds created into a gel can be used:
- As an egg substitute in baked goods
- As pectin in jams.
- To add fluffiness to gluten-free menu items such as pancakes or waffles.
Chia gel is a useful substitute for vegans and individuals with egg allergies. To create the gel, mix 1 part chia to 6 parts water. One tablespoon of this gel is the equivalent of one egg and is refrigerator safe for up to one week.
Whole chia seeds can be stored for several months in a cool, dry place. Ground chia seeds should be stored in a container with a tight lid and used within one month.
Blueberry Chia Jam
1 ¼ cup blueberries
1 ½ Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Health blueberries and maple syrup. Mash with a fork while cooking. Heat for ten minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add 1 Tablespoon chia seeds and continue to cook for 3 minutes or until the mixture becomes a jam consistency.
- Add vanilla and cool
Refrigerate and use within 1 week.
4 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 Tomato, puree
¼ cup red onion, minced
¼ cup cilantro, fresh chopped
¼ cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined and minced.
½ tsp. cumin
Juice from ½ lime
Salt to taste if desired
- Add the chia seeds to the tomato puree and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until the seeds absorb the tomato juice.
- Peel, pit and mash the avocado.
- Combine avocado and tomato/chia mixture. Add remaining ingredients.