Once popular in the 1980’s with the chia pet craze, chia has recently become a hot trend in the food world, and for good reason – it is a true superfood! If you haven’t tried chia seeds before, they are small, round seeds, similar in appearance to poppy seeds, but with an ivory to black hue. Since chia seeds are quite absorbent when soaked in liquid, they develop a funky gel-like texture. And the good news is – they are mild in flavor, which means you can add them to just about anything! Chia is believed to have originated in central and southern Mexico and Guatemala where its seed was part of the ancient Aztec diet. The recent attention to chia seeds are likely attributed to its high source of omega 3 fatty acids, it’s super source of fiber and it’s vegan-friendly source of protein.
What’s all the hype about? Per a 1 tablespoon serving they contain:
- 1.75 grams of alpha linoleic acid (ALA), a plant-based form of omega-3 fatty acid that has been linked to heart health.
- A rich source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble – about 4 grams. They are easy to digest and especially good for those people who have sensitive stomachs. The fiber helps fill you up and keeping you satiated.
- A bit of added protein, approximately 2 grams – a perfect addition to a meal.
- Sources of calcium, manganese and phosphorous.
- Only 60 calories.
- No gluten and therefore are a great addition to a gluten-free diet.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate chia into your diet:
- Add it to oatmeal
- Sprinkle it in soups or salads
- Stir it in your Greek yogurt
- Add to a breakfast smoothies
- Include in recipes for breads and other baked goods
Dara Godfrey, MS, RD