Though they may be small, Chia seeds are abundant in their nutritional benefits.
Chia is a true superfood. Though they may seem like a more recent focus in the health food world, they have been hailed for their health benefits for thousands of years.
Chia seeds were a valuable food of traditional Mayan, Inca and Aztec people. They used the tiny seeds in medicine, added them to water to drink, ground them into flour, and pressed them for oil.1, 2 In fact, in the Mayan tongue the word “Chia” means “Strength”. Apparently, ancient Mesoamerican warriors prized chia seeds as a valuable source of energy and strength.
Health Benefits of Chia
Chia seeds are powerhouses of nutrition. They truly are mighty in their nutritional benefits, and some of the many benefits of chia seeds include;
- High in omega-3 fatty acids
- Great source of soluble and insoluble fiber
- More calcium than most dairy products per serving
- Higher in antioxidants than blueberries
- High in vitamins A, B, D, and E
- Loaded with manganese
- Good source of protein
- Easy to digest and assimilate
- May help balance blood sugar levels and get rid of sugar cravings
- Can aid in weight loss
How To Include Them in Your Diet
Not only are they highly nutritious, chia seeds are filling and tasty. They can be a welcome addition to a variety of foods! Some of the ways to incorporate chia into your diet are sprinkling them on salads, adding them to breakfasts (i.e. granola, muesli, smoothie bowls), putting them in homemade popsicles, including them in energy bites, blending them into smoothies, and of course, making delectable chia puddings that can be eaten as either breakfast or dessert!
Additionally, when the seeds are ground they are amazing at acting as a binder or vegan egg replacement in baked goods. Making a chia “egg” is very easy. Simply mix 1 tbsp of ground chia with 3 tbsp of water, and let it sit for about 5 minutes until thickened.
Sprouted Chia Seeds
Have you ever been the proud owner of a Chia Pet? Well, the “hair” that grows from them is actually sprouted chia, which can pack a punch when it comes to nutrition. In comparison to raw chia seeds they provide chlorophyll, extra protein and fiber, and the levels of some vitamins and minerals increase.
Furthermore, anti-nutrients present in chia seeds, including phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, are reduced when soaked or sprouted. This allows better digestion and absorption of nutrients. If you decide to grow chia sprouts, you can add those microgreens to your salads, sandwiches, and even use them to garnish pasta dishes, soups and stews.
Chia Pudding Recipe
Now that you know some of the benefits and uses of this amazing superfood, here is a delicious chia pudding recipe!
Kiwi Blueberry Chia Pudding
Blueberry & Kiwi Chia Pudding
- 1 cup unsweetened plain oat milk
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh
- 2 kiwi, peeled and sliced
- Combine the milk, chia, coconut, maple syrup, and vanilla in a bowl and stir to combine.
- Cover, and stir occasionally for 10 minutes with a fork or whisk to prevent clumps of chia from forming.
- Chill in refrigerator for 4 hours – overnight.
- Divide the chia pudding between 2 glasses or breakfast bowls, layering with sliced kiwi and blueberries.
- If you don't have kiwi and/or blueberries to hand, you can use other fruits when you assemble this chia pudding, such as other berries, banana, mango, pineapple, apricots, peach... the list goes on!
- If you don't want to use oat milk, use a different plant-based milk of choice such as almond, soy, cashew, or hemp.