What Are Chia Seeds?

by Lisa Bishop

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds come from Salvia hispanica, a desert herb that is a member of the mint family. It grows predominantly in southern Mexico, where it used to be grown in abundance and is now experiencing a resurgence in popularity. They may just be the next “super food” – packed with omega 3, antioxidants, fiber calcium and protein.

Chia Seeds are Healthier than Flax Seeds

chia seed plantComparable to but healthier than flax seeds, chia seeds have been around since ancient times. The Aztec Indians made them a major part of their diets and revered them so much that they were used in sacred ceremonies.

The seeds are so packed with nutrition that Aztec warriors would survive on just a handful per day while they were traveling. They are richer than flax seeds in omega three fatty acids which help brain function as well as growth. Another benefit is that they do not go bad, so they can be stored longer than flax seed. This makes it easier to buy in bulk and save money.

Easy to Digest

Chia seeds do not have to be ground up like flax seeds to get full health benefits because they are easier to digest. So they are much easier to add to a diet. Just sprinkle into yogurt or cereal or bake into pancakes or muffins. Their slightly nutty flavor is mild enough that you won’t even notice them added to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or sprinkled on a salad.

In addition to their super nutritional value, the seeds are hydrophilic, which means they absorb water. In fact, they can absorb seven to twelve times their weight in water, forming a gelatin-like substance.

When eaten with other foods, the chia seeds form a physical barrier between the carbohydrates in foods and digestive enzymes. This slows the body’s process of changing carohydrates into sugars. So instead of riding a roller coaster of sugar spiking and then crashing, the body more slowly and evenly uses the sugar for lasting energy. This makes it great for diabetics.

Chia seeds are regarded by the FDA to be regarded as “healthy food,” so feel free to add them to your diet.

How To Use Chia Seeds

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sheryl

Great info on chia seeds. Thank you! I’ve also just learned that buckwheat is also not a grain. Who would have thunk?

Thanks for the info on chia seeds.

Great website. Keep it up for us, please!

Lisa Bishop

Hi Sheryl!
Thanks for the comment! Buckwheat is also on my list to research. There are actually quite a few grain free foods that we can tap into. The trick is to find out what they are and learn how to incorporate them into our lifestyle.

That is what I hope to accomplish with this site. There just isn’t a lot of information out there for a grain free diet for humans. (There is a lot for pets!) Please keep checking back and let me know if you have any specific questions. What information would be the most helpful to you as you start a grain free diet? I’d love to know!

Pooja

Hi,
I recently came to know about chia seeds. Your article is very informative. I also liked your other article on chia seeds. One question I have in mind is – If we do not have to grind the chia seeds for their full benefit how do they get digested, just chewing will be enough , or if swallowed straight is fine too?

Thanks, Pooja

Lisa Bishop

Once they have absorbed water, they are easily digested. You can grind them up if you wish (and ground chia seed may be helpful with diarrhea) but most folks just eat them whole.

Geraldine

I love them with my morning scrambled eggs. I soak a tbl spoon of seeds in a small amount of hot water and a pat of butter while I scramble my eggs then combine.
Chia seeds are a perfect part of my Paleo life style!

Lisa Bishop

What a great idea!

Beth

Thank you for this post – I am just starting out on my ‘Primal’ journey and wanted to add chia seeds into it. Are there any guidelines on how much of the chia to eat on a daily basis?

dr oz chia seeds

Your energy levels have a lot to do with what you eat.
However if you prefer to make smoothies or other foods with chia seeds included
I have heard that that is what the powder is good for, though I
haven’t tried it myself. Another current trend that may or may not be easily recognized as an ‘oldie but goodie’ is the new superfood, properly known as salvia hispanica.

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