Chia seeds are typically found in the baking or health food section of your local food store (and are worth the time to ask if you can’t find them). Track down a bag and it will last you. Get yourself a chia jar or container. Chia is great to have on hand as an additive to smoothies, puddings, and countless baking applications. With 11 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of protein per serving – it’s a solid addition to most any dish.
Chia seeds come from the chia plant, Salvia hispanica, commonly referred to as chia. Biologically speaking it is a relative of mint, hailing originally from central and southern Mexico, as well as Guatemala.
Chia seeds are tiny, about 1 millimeter in diameter. They are brown, gray, black and white. If you can buy them in bulk do so. Don’t fear the dry goods section of your store as it’s a great place to save money and reduce your environmental impact. Handle chia seeds with care – they make a mess and are hard to clean up.
Chia Seed Nutrition
Chia seeds are one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. A three tablespoon serving has more than twice the iron as a cup of spinach, as much potassium as a banana, twice the fiber of a cup of oatmeal, and the antioxidants of a serving of blueberries.
Protein accounts for large portion of the chia seed’s weight – with 5 grams per ounce. Easy to mix with almost anything, you can shovel in protein by the tablespoon full when chia seeds are on hand.
Legend has it that the renowned Tarahumara (translation: “those who run fast”) ultra-endurance runners of Mexico fuel their epic runs with a mixture of chia seeds and water. Turns out that current scientific literature supports the endurance benefits derived from consuming chia seeds, with one study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning finding a mixture of 50% chia seeds and 50% Gatorade just as effective at fueling long-distance running performance as a 100% carbohydrate based drink.
Chia seeds can also help you regulate your blood sugar. Both the gelling action of the seed, and its unique combination of soluble and insoluble fiber combine to slow down your body’s conversion of starches into sugars. If you eat chia with a meal, it will help you turn your food into constant, steady energy rather than a series of ups and downs that wear you out.
How to Eat Chia Seeds
You can eat them raw. Go ahead, spoon a handful into your mouth. You just might need a bit of water. It’s a unique sensation. Especially once you start mixing chia seeds with water.
The seeds are hydrophilic, absorbing up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked. While soaking, the seeds develop a mucilaginous gel-like coating that gives chia-based beverages a distinctive texture.
There are many way to prepare foods with chia.
Klotter, Jule. “Chia seeds.” Townsend Letter: The Examiner of Alternative Medicine Apr. 2006:
27+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 8 Mar. 2014.