When you think of chia seeds, the first thing you should think is: omega-3s! Chia seeds, omega-3s! Out of all the plant foods that we know of, chia seeds have the highest ratio and percentage of omega-3s. If you don’t know much about omega-3s, check out our Omega-3s Nutrition Guide; basically these good guys are extremely healthy for you. It’s a smart idea to incorporate chia seeds into your diet often if for no other reason than the omega-3s.
However, chia seeds are also a great little powerhouse of protein. If you’re new to these guys, I know what you’re thinking – do I just pour them in my mouth? Is that yummy? It’s not. Take it from me. Been there, tried that. Can confirm: I am not a hamster (and neither are you, probably). Don’t worry, we’ll tell you how to eat them in ways that are awesome at the bottom of the page (and be sure to check our Recipe search for other recipes that include them as well). Before we do that though, there is something else about chia seeds that is extremely important for you to know!
The main thing to know about chia seeds is that they are highly absorbent (which is why they make great pudding: you just put them in a glass with enough ‘milk’ to cover them and they will absorb it and form a gelatinous pudding). The flip side of this though is that if you eat the chia seeds as regular seeds (putting them onto stir fry veggies or yogurt), you have to keep in mind that you need to drink an equal amount of water so that the seeds have some liquid to absorb. Without drinking enough, the seeds will pull the liquid out of your body and into your digestive tract; this is very helpful if you are needing to get your bowels moving, but it can also be dangerous if you are dehydrated already when ingesting the seeds so be sure to eat chia with caution. Minor caution, but caution nonetheless.
The complete nutrition information for chia seeds can be seen in the USDA Nutrient Database here.
How to Eat
- The very best way to eat chia seeds in my opinion is as a pudding: Pour some chia seeds into a jar or bowl, then add enough dairy-free milk to cover the seeds and stir in any other flavors you like (fresh raspberries, a bit of maple syrup for a sweeter taste, etc.). Let the pudding sit in the fridge for an hour and the chia seeds will absorb all the milk and become a pudding-like consistency.
- Chia seeds can also be sprinkled onto yogurt, however they are so small and crunchy that they don’t go very well on a salad in my opinion (chewing them tends to just get them stuck in your teeth). If you were to add salad dressing, then add the chia, then give the salad a few minutes to sit, that would allow the seeds some time to soak up the dressing and soften so you can avoid the tiny crunch factor and also this will allow the seeds to stick to the leaves better so they don’t just end up in a pile on the bottom of your plate.
- Sprinkling chia seeds onto a pan of stir fry as it cooks does work well, likely because the chia has some time to absorb some of the cooking oil. Cooking them like this also gives them a more robust roasted flavor.
- Adding chia seeds to other mixtures also works well. I like to add them to wild rice (along with walnuts and dried cranberries) which I then serve in a half acorn squash.
Tips for Buying
You may notice that the seeds in my jar are white as opposed to the typical black chia seeds you may have seen elsewhere. Both kinds are very similar, however the bulk bins at my local grocery list white chia seeds as containing a bit more protein (1g) which is why I opt for them when possible, however they are more difficult to find in big box stores. Black chia seeds can be found on the baking aisle near the flour and hemp seeds usually, as well as in the bulk section of some grocery stores.
Pictured here are my chia seeds, which I’ve decided to keep in a sugar pourer. The first few times that I used the pourer I measured the seeds out so that I would get a feel for how many seeds I needed for protein calculations. Now that I have the feel for how many chia seeds I should be eating, I simply pour them directly onto my yogurt or veggies or whatever. The sugar pourer was $1 at the Dollar Tree and not only works perfectly, but I think it looks quite nice too. Using this system has also allowed me to get away from the jar-and-measuring-spoon method, which is a fine method as well, I just find the sugar pourer more convenient.