Ch-ch-ch-chia! The same tiny seeds that rose to stardom many years ago because of the popular Chia Pet commercials are now the latest craze among health experts. Find out why you should add them to your diet and the many ways you can eat them.
While chia seeds are tiny, they are a nutritional powerhouse. They’re rich in fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and magnesium. These nutrients make chia seeds extremely healthy. In fact, researchers say this nutrient-dense superfood can fight free radicals, boost energy, support heart health, support healthy digestion, help build muscle, and aid weight loss.
Now that you know the many health benefits associated with eating chia seeds, you probably want to know how you can add them to your diet. Before we go over the many ways you can eat this superfood, it’s important to know there is a wrong way to eat them.
What You Need To Know
According to a patient case study from Carolinas HealthCare System, if you don’t consume chia seeds the right way they can potentially block your esophagus. This was evidenced by one 39-year-old man who swallowed a tablespoon of dry chia seeds and then chased it with water. He experienced intense dysphagia (AKA difficulty swallowing). Doctors had to use a neonatal gastroscope to push the seeds into the patientâ€™s stomach until his esophagus was cleared. The reason this patient had such issues is because when chia seeds are moistened, they expand to about 10 times their size. They also develop a gelatinous coating, which in this case caused an obstruction in the man’s throat.
The reason I share this case study with you is not to frighten you about eating chia seeds. Rather, it’s to warn future munchers of the potential dangers and the importance of eating chia seeds the right way. With that said, eating either moistened chia seeds or ground up chia seeds is considered extremely safe and healthy.
The benefit of eating wet chia seeds is that the superfood will have already developed its gelatinous coating, helping them move easily through your digestive track. As the size of the seeds expands in your tummy, you will begin to feel full. This is the main reason chia seeds are touted as a weight loss food (because they expand in your stomach, making you feel full).
17 Ways To Add Chia Seeds To Your Diet
While chia seeds are flavorless, they can definitely transform a dish in terms of texture and nutritional value.
1) Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seed pudding is simply chia seeds mixed with coconut milk, a natural sweetener (such as raw honey or maple syrup), and a few other flavorful ingredients/toppings. After you stir all of the ingredients together and let it set in the fridge for a few hours, you are left with a creamy, delicious, healthy, and filling meal. Chia seed pudding is loaded with fiber, healthy fats, and protein. It makes for a great breakfast or snack. It also fits pretty much everyone’s dietary needs since it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.
Make your chia seed pudding at night and it will be ready to enjoy the next morning. It keeps in the fridge for a few days, so don’t feel the need to eat your entire batch in one sitting. Although, some recipes are so addicting you may have to force yourself to put down the spoon! You can make chia seed pudding a few different ways, depending on your taste preferences. Here are some delicious recipes:
Classic Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding – This is a classic chia seed pudding recipe that uses coconut milk, vanilla extract, chia seeds, and honey. There is nothing unhealthy in this recipe and it’s great layered with fresh berries.
Coconut Banana Chia Seed Pudding – Bump up the coconut flavor even more with some toasted coconut flakes! Plus, make this dish even more nutritious by slicing up and adding a few bananas.
Peanut Butter Cup Chia Seed Pudding – This recipe calls for cocoa powder and peanut butter, so it truly is like eating a healthified peanut butter cup.
Use these recipes as a springboard. When reading through the recipe cards, you will notice they are all similar in terms of their base ingredients/measurements and then the recipe creators just play around with add-ins. If you enjoy the taste of oranges then peel an orange and add that. If you like the taste of apples with cinnamon then dice up an organic apple, stir it into the classic chia seed pudding recipe, and then sprinkle a little cinnamon on top. It’s really that simple.
*Please note: If you are going to create your own chia seed pudding flavor and want to maintain a healthy dish then be cautious about what ingredients you use. Avoid refined sugars, processed ingredients, and dairy. Instead, stick with fresh fruits and natural spices.
2) Chia Cereal
Move over oatmeal, there is a new breakfast cereal in town! Chia cereal is similar to chia seed pudding. It involves mixing chia seeds with milk (preferably a dairy-free milk like almond milk) and a few other ingredients. Then, let the mixture sit to thicken, add some toppings, and enjoy. This recipe uses a mashed banana, vanilla extract, and some cinnamon to create a lovely morning flavor.
3) Add Chia Seeds To Oatmeal
Not ready to trade in your morning oatmeal for a big bowl of chia cereal just yet? Then why not add a spoonful of chia seeds directly to your oatmeal? You can either stir the seeds into your hot oatmeal then wait a few minutes for them to absorb and swell, or you can grind them up and use the seeds as a crunchy topping.
4) Chia Fresca
You can think of a Chia Fresca as an energy drink, except it doesn’t have all the harmful sugar and bad-for-you ingredients. Since the seeds are loaded with nutrients that have been proven to boost energy, many people whip up a bottle of Chia Fresca to take to their morning workout class. Along with boosting energy, chugging Chia Fresca during a sweat session will help keep you hydrated.