Your momma wasn’t lying when she said that great things come in small packages! Chia seeds are a nutrition powerhouse offering benefits spanning from improved digestion to heart health and more.
This article reviews the nutrition and benefits of this little superfood as well as tips and recipes for how to include them into your diet!
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that are native to Mexico. They are naturally gluten-free and rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants.
They are also flavorless, making it very easy to add them to various foods and recipes!
Nutrition in Chia Seeds
Per one-ounce serving (about two tablespoons) (1):
Calories: 138 calories
Protein: 5 grams
Fat: 9 grams
Fiber: 10 grams
Net Carbs: 2 grams
Magnesium: 30% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA)
Calcium: 18% of the RDA
Zinc: 16% of the RDA
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Benefits of Chia Seeds
High in Fiber
Chia seeds are extremely high in fiber, an indigestible carbohydrate found in certain foods. Two tablespoons provide a whopping 10 grams of fiber per day, nearly 30 percent of your daily fiber recommendations!
Fiber is one of the best foods for optimal gut health for a few reasons. First of all, fiber feeds your good gut bacteria. You have trillions of bacteria all throughout your digestive tract. The health of these gut bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiome, affect almost every organ system in the body. For example, the health of your microbiome affects your immune system, skin health, metabolism, heart health, and so much more! Fiber is the preferred fuel source for these healthy gut bacteria (2). In order to grow and strengthen your friendly gut bugs, you must eat enough fiber (at least 30 grams per day) to properly nourish the microbiome.
Fiber is also very anti-inflammatory. In fact, a fiber-rich diet may lower levels of inflammation in the gut and may reduce your risk of certain inflammatory gut diseases, like Crohn’s disease or colon cancer (3, 4, 5).
May Suppress Appetite
Fiber provides bulk to your meals and may also reduce your appetite as well. How? Well, the fiber in chia seeds can soak up water in the intestine which causes them to expand in size and slow digestion. This effect can lead to increased feelings of fullness between meals!
Rich in Anti-Inflammatory Omega-3 Fats
Chia seeds are an excellent source of a group of omega-3 fats called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that have anti-inflammatory benefits in the body. Many studies show that eating chia seeds can significantly increase the concentration of ALA omega-3 in your blood (6, 7).
However, it’s important to mention that while chia seeds are high in overall omega-3 fats (ALA), they do not provide the same beneficial omega-3 fats found in seafood (EPA and DHA). While your body can convert some of the ALA fats into EPA and DHA, the conversion rate is very low and you’d have to eat A LOT of chia seeds!
Optimizes Heart Health
The fiber, omega-3 fats, and magnesium in chia seeds provide optimal protection for the health of your heart. Together, these three nutrients provide powerful benefits such as normalizing cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, balancing your blood sugar, and reducing inflammation in your arteries (8, 9, 10).
We have no shame in sharing that chia seeds are one of the best keto superfoods out there! Two tablespoons of chia seeds provide 9 grams of fat with only 2 grams of net carbohydrates.
One of the biggest keto diet mistakes we see all the time is a lack of fiber, which can lead to not-so-fun side-effects like constipation and bloating. Not to mention, the long-term consequences of a low-fiber diet may be detrimental to your overall health. Fortunately, chia seeds pack a strong fiber punch in just a small volume of food and minimal carbs. With nearly 10 grams of fiber per serving, they are a perfect option for boosting fiber content in your keto diet.
Non-Dairy Source of Calcium
Has your doctor told you to eat more calcium, but you just aren’t able to tolerate dairy? For women with a family history of osteoporosis, eating enough calcium is one key factor in maintaining strong bones. Luckily, two tablespoons of chia seeds provide over 18 percent of your daily recommended intake for calcium! This is a huge benefit to everyone, but especially those of us who cannot tolerate dairy products.
How to Use Chia Seeds
There are a variety of ways to include chia seeds into your everyday diet.
Chia seeds can absorb many times their weight in liquid. So, some people soak them for an overnight pudding, blended into smoothies, or as a thickening agent for homemade salad dressing.
You can also sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons into oatmeal, scrambled eggs, or on top of avocado toast. However, without any moisture, the texture of chia seeds is quite crunchy, so it’s best to sprinkle on top of food containing some natural moisture to soften the seeds.
Mix chia seeds with ground flax seed, some shredded parmesan, and spices to create a nutritious gluten-free breading for homemade chicken nuggets! We love this chia seed breading recipe from Lauren Kelly Nutrition.
Do you ever miss enjoying a crunchy cracker for your guacamole or tuna salad? Now you can blend chia with some other seeds to have a yummy homemade version! Try making these low-carb chia seed crackers from Oh She Glows!
Vegan Egg Substitute
Chia seeds can also be used as an egg substitute. Whether you follow a vegan diet and/or have an egg allergy, they offer a perfect alternative for recipes calling for eggs.
We love this super helpful video on how to make a vegan chia egg from Detoxinista!
Top 3 Chia Seed Recipes
Need some recipe inspiration? Here are three of our favorite recipes, including one delicious antioxidant powerhouse from our very own 131 Method kitchen!
Healthy Matcha Chia Pudding
This matcha pudding combines the benefits of chia seeds with the antioxidant power of matcha powder! We love preparing this recipe at night to have a quick on-the-go breakfast the next morning. With less than 1 gram of net carbs per serving, this is a great recipe option for people in the Ignite phase of the 131 Method.
10-Minute Chia Seed Jam
Conventional jam and jellies contain so much added sugar! You’ll love this healthier jam alternative from Gimme Some Oven that contains just four simple ingredients.
Blueberry Almond Butter Smoothie
We love throwing a tablespoon of chia seeds into our smoothies for a boost of fat and fiber! This blueberry almond butter smoothie from the Minimalist Baker would be a delicious breakfast option during the Nourish phase of the 131 Method.
Where to Buy Chia Seeds?
You can now find them at most regular grocery stores! However, if you’re like us and enjoy the convenience of home delivery, you can also easily order a package of chia seeds from Amazon.
Have you ever tried these healthy beauties? What is your favorite way to use them? Comment below to share!