Health Benefits of Chia Seeds (+ 25 Ways to Use Them)

Chia seeds are awesome! This is a great list of recipes that use them. Finally can use up the package I have hanging out in my cupboards. :)

Original image by Stacy Spensley via Flickr CC

Chia seeds are bursting onto the trendy scene in all their fashionable glory. I saw a box of breakfast cereal the other day at the grocery store (the kind marketing itself as “healthy”) that boasted the inclusion of chia seeds.

But are they a passing fad? Just the flavour of the month in a long line of highly marketable and slightly exotic-sounding ingredients? Some people get excited about every new supposed ‘superfood’ that comes down the pipeline, but me – I tend to be wary of anything embraced by mainstream marketing.

This article asks the question, “Are chia seeds a superfood?”, and explains the answer in this way: “There is no actual definition for a ‘superfood’, this is really just a marketing term, but foods mentioned in this category often contain above average amounts of health promoting nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and especially phytonutrients (plant based nutrients). Based on this definition, chia seeds would certainly qualify.”

Chia seeds have been used medicinally and as a valuable diet component for centuries. They grow like crazy in Guatemala and Mexico, and were historically loved by the Azteks and Mayans. They are currently trending once again, and for good reason.

Pros and Cons

Given the recent trend in our culture toward processed junk comprising a significant portion (if not all) of our diets, the ratio of Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s is massively out of proportion. We’re getting way, way too much Omega-6, and not enough Omega-3. I’ve seen estimates saying we’re getting 25 times too much O-6. Crazy, eh? This is being linked to all sorts of serious health concerns, including cancer, arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel disease, and more.

So that’s why lots of people talk up the amazing Omega-3 content of chia seeds. And it’s true – they are indeed high in beneficial Omega-3’s. Nonetheless, they are still a seed, and as such should not play too large a role in any traditional foods diet. Plant-based sources of Omega-3’s are not as usable by our bodies (in converting to DHA and APA, which are the long-chain fatty acids our bodies need) as animal sources of them, especially from seafood.

An interesting note: I personally do not follow a paleo/primal diet (for many reasons) but even Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple agrees that they can be considered primal-approved, but cautions against treating them as a superfood at the expense of traditional superfoods like grassfed liver and butter.

Why I Love Chia Seeds

With all of this knowledge, I’ve started using chia seeds in my regular diet, and I am LOVING them. Here are a few reasons why:

1. They are virtually tasteless

They do have a definite texture thing going on, but the taste is relatively neutral, and easily blends with all sorts of dishes.

2. They are high in protein

I’m constantly throwing them in to things like oatmeal, baking, etc. to help up the protein content of an otherwise starchy or grain-based dish.

3. They have a ton of Omega-3’s

While they may not be as helpful in my body as other sources, they are still better than nothing, and providing a little nutritional boost.

4. They are seriously impressive in their nutritional profile

They are a fantastic source of fiber, with 11 grams per ounce! They are also a great source of manganese, as well as boasting four times as much antioxidants as blueberries, and twice the potassium as a banana. They have five times the calcium as milk, seven times more vitamin C than oranges, and three times more iron than spinach! (according to this source).

5. They are mucilaginous

This means they absorb HUGE amounts of liquid, which is pretty darn cool. Also – handy as a thickener and binder for gluten/grain-free cooking.

In addition to the below recipes (I haven’t tried them all, but the ingredients are all real-food), I use chia seeds quite often in my recently released breakfast ebook, “The Breakfast Revolution”, which you can grab HERE.

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25 Recipes That Use Chia Seeds

Raspberry-Banana Oat and Chia Seed Smoothie // Food and Spice

Chia-Aid Sports Drink // The Nourishing Home

Chia Seed Kefir or Kombucha // Real Food Outlaws

Chai Bubble Tea with Chia Seed Boba // The Greenbacks Gal

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Beet, Honey, and Yogurt Smoothie // So Let’s Hang Out (photo above)

Key Lime Pie Smoothie // Homegrown & Healthy

Perfect Banana-Pecan Bread // Red & Honey

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20-Minute Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies // Red & Honey

Rice Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies // Gutsy

Summer Muesli w/ Soaked Oats and Chia Seeds // Recipes to Nourish

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Banana-Nut Granola with Quinoa // So Let’s Hang Out (photo above)

Chia-Blueberry Porridge // Common Sense Homesteading

Breakfast Pudding // Nourishing Simplicity

Breakfast in a Jar // All Things Health

Cinnamon Crackers // Sweet Kisses and Dirty Dishes

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Blueberry Mousse Slice // Strands of Life (photo above)

Dairy-Free Berry Mousse // Whole New Mom

Fudge Pops // Nourishing Treasures

Blueberry Jam (no added sugar, no pectin) // Health Extremist

Honey-Sweetened Strawberry Chia Seed Jam // Red & Honey

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Chia Pumpkin Pudding // Health Starts in the Kitchen (photo above)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Pudding // Keeper of the Home

Chocolate or Carob Chia Pudding (stevia sweetened) // Whole New Mom

Chocolate and Chia Pudding (maple syrup sweetened) // So Let’s Hang Out

Easy Coconut-Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding // Real Food Whole Health

Blended Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding // Red & Honey

Additional Reading

Chia Seeds // Dr. Weil

They are also often used as an egg replacer (a very nutritious one, at that) because of their gelling properties. Katie has instructions for how to do that, tucked in at the bottom of this gluten-free pumpkin muffin post.

4 Great Ways to Use Chia Seeds // Canadian Living

You tell me: are there chia seeds in your kitchen right now? What have you used them for?


I'm Beth. I created Red & Honey because I'm obsessed with the wild art of wellness.

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Comments

  1. Rj says

    Yes, my pantry, fridge and several shaker bottles are filled with chia seeds. I have ground some to use in baking and to create ‘cream’ soups, I sprinkle them atop salads and main dishes, mix in cereal and make jams with fresh fruit, add them to hot and cold beverages, make chia gel to add to salad dressings and to thicken other liquids (like nut milks) and use as one of the ingrdients in an antioxident facial mask. I use white, for their higher protein content, black for their higher fibre content and a mixture for a balance of both. We enjoy the benefits of about 2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds each day.

  2. Karen says

    I am wondering if I can take Chia seeds. I have diverticulitis and am restricted from eating any seeds. Someone told me I could grind them in my coffee grinder and still use them in puddings etc? Any ideas?

  3. frances says

    I have a small mason jar of them in my cupboards. I throw them in smoothies, especially if the smoothie is acting as a meal and have also used them in eggless lemon chia seed (instead of poppyseed) muffins.

  4. Liz Lacy says

    I do have some. I bought it for a recipe but don’t remember what it is or where. Glad to have some now. Thank you.

  5. Abby says

    Hi Beth! Just wondering… wouldn’t chia seeds be high in PUFAs and lectins/phytates, because they are a seed (and wouldn’t that be a bad thing?) Or am I wrong? What are your thoughts on this?

  6. Ashley says

    Yes! Coscto sized bag 😉
    We make our own version of the “Holy Crap” cereal – chia, buckwheat groats and hemp hearts to sprinkle on yogurt and granola to give them a boost and makes you feel fuller longer.
    Also, I have been adding a couple of tablespoons to your Coconut Macaroons!
    And I make Date Bars that include chia as well (similar to a Larabar)
    Yum!

  7. says

    I am so excited about all these chia recipes you’ve gathered. There are so many delicious looking options. Thanks so much for your hard work in sharing this post and also for the kind shout-out on my Chia-Aid Sports Drink. Blessings to you, sweet friend, :) Kelly

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