Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
1 Tbs. of chia (about 12 grams) contains approximately:
- 2.1 g ALA
- 4 g fiber
- 2 g protein
- 58 calories
Chia seeds have been called the world’s healthiest whole food for good reason. “Chia contains the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids of any plant known, and also contains significant amounts of protein, fiber, and antioxidants,” says Wayne Coates, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, chia researcher, and author of Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood.
“Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber have been shown to have positive health benefits in terms of heart health and diabetes,” he says, “And omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants have also been shown to help reduce inflammation and boost immunity.” Plus, chia is gluten-free.
Tiny Seed, Big Benefits
In one study of type 2 diabetics at the University of Toronto, people who received 37 grams of chia daily for 12 weeks experienced decreases in blood pressure, inflammation, and blood sugar that were significant enough to lower their risk for heart disease. The same researchers also found that in healthy people, 15-24 grams of daily chia reduced blood sugar levels and appetite for up to two hours after a meal.
A study of long-distance runners that was published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, found that a half-serving of a sugary sports drink with added chia was a healthier fuel than a full serving of the sports drink alone. For more chia research, visit azchia.com.
One tablespoon of chia contains a good day’s worth of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based form of omega-3 fats. The Institute of Medicine recommends 1.6 grams daily of ALA for men and 1.1 grams for women, and integrative physicians often recommend around 2-3 grams daily. One tablespoon of chia seeds typically contains more than 2 grams.
It’s also worth noting that higher levels of ALA are not toxic, and may be beneficial, especially for those with arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and other inflammatory conditions.
How to Eat Chia
Unlike flax seeds, whole chia seeds are easily digested and most people find they have no distinct taste. Eat whole seeds as a snack, mix them in nut butters, sprinkle them on salads, sandwiches, yogurt or other food, or mix them in juices or smoothies. Chia seeds absorb approximately nine times their weight in water, help control appetite, and boost energy without stimulants. If you prefer less crunch, use ground or milled chia seeds, also called chia meal.
Chia Ice Pops
Nutritious and refreshing, these ice pops get their natural sweetness from fruit.
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen mango chunks
½ cup orange juice
1/3 cup chia seeds
¼ cup water
Put all ingredients in food processor or high-powered blender, and liquefy. Pour into ice-pop or ice-cube molds. Freeze until solid, and enjoy.
Recipes and tips from Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood, sterlingpublishing.com/chia.
PER SERVING: 98 cal; 2g pro; 3g total fat (
Makes 20 1-Tbs. Servings Use chia gel to thicken sauces, soups, dips, dressings, and other recipes without altering their taste.
1 cup cool water
1¾ Tbs. chia seeds
- Mix ingredients together in sealable container with whisk, and let stand 4 minutes. Whisk again, and let stand 10 minutes more.
- Whisk again, seal, and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks. Adjust amount of chia seeds as desired for thicker or thinner consistency.
PER SERVING: 5 cal;
Weight Loss Tip: To curb appetite, mix 1 Tbs. of chia gel with room-temperature water, and drink either before a meal or when hunger strikes between meals. If you prefer, flavor it with fresh lemon, lime, and/or stevia.
Dessert Tip: Substitute almond, hemp, or other milk for water in gel recipe, and add dried fruit, shaved chocolate, and/or a natural sweetener.
Beauty Tip: For glowing skin, use 2-3 Tbs. of chia gel as a face mask. Apply to clean skin, let sit for 15-30 minutes, and remove with a warm, moist washcloth.
Pet Food Tip: Thoroughly mix chia gel into canned pet food-1 Tbs. per serving for dogs; 1 tsp. per serving for cats.
Greens PlusOrganicsOmega3 Chia Stick Packs Enjoy chia anywhere, anytime with these ultra-convenient grab-and-go sticks-each pack has 15 g of chia.
Nature’s AnswerChia Seed Try adding one scoop of these 100% chia seeds to yogurt, oatmeal, salads, gravy, pudding-or in any of your favorite recipes.
ReNew LifeUltimate CHIAlife Enjoy these 100% premium chia seeds right out of the container, or boost the fiber of any meal (5g fiber per serving) by adding 1 Tbs. to any recipe.