Heather Bray, RD
Chia seeds are packed with nutrients such as a whopping 5g of fibre per tablespoon (that’s more than Metamucil/psyllium husk!) of both soluble and insoluble fibre. In fact, their carbohydrate composition is 83% made up of fibre which means that these are also a low glycemic index food aka it will not cause your blood sugar to spike very high.
Chia seeds are also known for their Polyunsaturated Fat (PUFA) composition, most of which being made up of Omega-3 fatty acids (ALA). Omega-3 (ALA) is an anti-inflammatory compound which can also help increase HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Although chia seeds are not my primary recommendation for adding protein (rather, I recommend it for adding fibre to meals) they do contain all 9 essential amino acids.
There are a lot of articles on the internet about how “chia seeds can help with weight loss” or “chia seeds lower cholesterol levels”. It’s important to note that one single food item will not improve cholesterol or make you lose weight. We are complex beings and require more than one food and more than just food alone to change things like our weight and/or cholesterol levels.
Chia seeds are also a source of: iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
My favourite fun fact about chia seeds is that they can absorb up to 12x their original volume in water. Hence - the texture of chia pudding.
You DO NOT NEED TO SOAK chia seeds in order to reap the benefits of them. However, chia seeds are most often consumed in some kind of moisture containing foods such as: chia pudding (chia seeds mixed with milk or plant based beverage), mixed into yogurt and fruit parfaits, in smoothies, baked goods, mixed with peanut butter and used as a spread. I wouldn’t recommend sprinkling chia seeds on foods such as a salad because frankly, they are so small that they will probably end up just sticking to the sides of your bowl.
Chia seeds can even be introduced to children, as early as 6 months with the introduction of solids. However, avoid serving dry chia seeds on their own to kids as this can be a choking risk. This same advice holds true for anyone experiencing issues with swallowing (dysphagia).
A note on chia water: I’ve seen this trend on Tiktok and have heard from some clients that they are actually doing this. Chia water seemed to gain some popularity in the summer of 2022 because of its’ claim to “decrease your appetite”. Some people were and have been drinking chia water when they are hungry. This practice is a huge red flag to me.
Listen, I love chia seeds but they should not be used mixed with water to REPLACE A MEAL IF YOU’RE HUNGRY.
If you’re hungry… eat, it can be that simple. However, for most people it isn’t. I often explore identifying hunger and fullness cues with my clients and help them learn to honour those cues without judgement. If that sounds like something you would like to learn more about, click the button below to book a call with me!
You do not need to soak chia seeds for a specific amount of time in order to consume them or reap the benefits of them. From a culinary standpoint however, chia seeds perform best when submerged or mixed with some kind of liquid (e.g. chia pudding, baked goods, in smoothies, mixed with yogurt).
Chia Seeds. (2019, May 22). The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/chia-seeds/
Chia Seeds for Babies - Can Babies Eat Chia Seeds? (n.d.). Solid Starts. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://solidstarts.com/foods/chia-seed/
CPE Monthly: Health Benefits of Chia — Learn About Its History, Nutrient Composition, and Current Research Regarding Its Health Benefits - Today’s Dietitian Magazine. (n.d.). Www.todaysdietitian.com. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0117p44.shtml
Kulczyński, B.; Kobus-Cisowska, J.; Taczanowski, M.; Kmiecik, D.; Gramza-Michałowska, A. The Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds—Current State of Knowledge. Nutrients 2019, 11, 1242. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11061242