Chia Seeds: The Superfood You Need to Try
Ch-ch-ch-chia! No we're no talking about those fuzzy little terra-cotta figurines (although they do come from a similar seed), we're talking about the latest superfood to take the health food world by storm — chia seeds. Packed with fiber, protein, antioxidants and omega-3s, it's no surprise that there's been a lot of buzz surrounding these tiny seeds.
What they are: A dietary staple of the ancient Aztecs, chia seeds are derived from a flowering plant in the mint family and are native to Mexico and Central America. You'll find them in both white and black colors and they can be eaten whole or ground. While they can be added to salads and the like in their dry form, they're most commonly incorporated into recipes or used to make smoothies and protein-packed puddings. When soaked, they create a gelatinous coating that makes them easier to digest.
Why eat them: Just one ounce of chia seeds (around two tablespoons), packs around 11g of fiber, 4g of protein and a good amount of calcium, manganese, magnesium, zinc, potassium and vitamins B1, B2 and B3. They have also been cited as having a number of health benefits, including stabilizing blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and improving digestion. (That being said, if you have experienced dysphagia or esophageal restrictions in the past, this may be a food you want to pass on.)
How to eat them: Want to start reaping the benefits of chia? Here are a few ways to start incorporating it into your diet:
- Coconut Chia Pudding via Popsugar
- Triple Berry Chia Smoothie via Two Peas and Their Pod
- Coffee Chia Smoothie via Madeleine Shaw
- Banana Peanut Butter Chia Seed Muffins via Girl Versus Dough
- Crispy Garlic, Spinach, and Chickpea Burgers with Avocado via Food52
- Asian-style Roasted Cashews via True Food
- Chia Seed Jam via Going Home to Roost
Other uses for chia seeds: While chia seeds make a mean addition to your smoothie, they can also be used as a thickening agent for soups (great if you have a gluten-free diet) and makes a good substitute for eggs in baking. To use chia seeds as an egg replacer, mix 1 tablespoon of finely ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and a pinch of baking powder for one large egg and allow to sit until thickened before adding to your recipe. You can also use them as a substitute in recipes calling for breadcrumbs — meatballs, chicken tenders, you name it.