There’s a lot to love about chia seeds; but there’s also a lot of hype. And as much as I’d love to swallow it by the spoonful, it’s important not to over-promise and under-deliver, like the internet loves to do.
To Chia, or Not to Chia
First off, chia seeds are jam-packed with nutrition. Per ounce (about 2 tablespoons), chia provides 140 calories, 5 grams of protein, 10 grams of fibre, 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids and 185 mg of calcium. Chia also packs in a ton of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Not bad for a tiny 1mm seed!
One serving of chia serves up over 40% of your daily fibre needs—which is good news for your gut. It’s especially high in soluble fibre, known to improve blood sugars, lower cholesterol and help with weight management. Plus, it’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce the risk of heart disease.
If you search the internet you’ll find claims that chia can do everything from increasing your mood to helping you run faster, all while curing diabetes. They make it sound like chia will even do the dishes and drive your kids to school so you can catch a few extra zzz’s.
But if I had to choose, I’d still take a basket of vegetables over a bag of chia any day.
Sure, adding this seed is a good way to bump up your fibre and nutrient intake. But if you’re looking to lose weight and feel more energized, it’s your whole diet and lifestyle that counts. And remember: calories from seeds add up quickly. So chasing your burger and fries with a side of chia pudding likely won’t do wonders for your waistline, or your wallet.
The Proof is in the Pudding
There is some research to suggest that including chia seeds (as part of a healthy diet) may help people with diabetes maintain blood sugar control and improve their heart health (1,2,3). However, there aren’t a ton of studies backing up the health claims. Some have shown no effect (4, 5), and some base their claims on animal studies (6, 7) or only include a small number of subjects (8, 9).
Bottom line: Right now there just isn’t enough evidence to warrant the cure-all claims. Any positive health effects are likely due to its entire nutrition profile in the context of someone’s entire diet, not some magical hidden ingredient found only in chia.
It’s a good reminder to always make sure the evidence is there before you pour all your money into a self-proclaimed superfood.
Change it up with Chia
Now that we’ve separated the wheat from the chia chaff, let’s talk about what can you do with all those healthy seeds. The mild, nutty flavour of chia seeds makes them an easy addition to any food or drink. They are terrific as a salad topper or booster in cereal, granola, yogurt or smoothies.
Since chia seeds are high in soluble fibre, they absorb liquid and expand to form a gel-like mixture. It may not sound like much, but this makes chia perfect for overnight oats and homemade fruit jam. Chia also makes a great substitute for eggs in your baking and works well in pudding-style desserts. Keep in mind, though—unlike eggs—chia seeds won’t help your baked goods rise.
Where to See Ya Chia
Although chia seeds are a pretty hot commodity, they can be a little tricky to find. There are sold in most health and bulk food stores, as well as Costco and Superstore. The small seeds can come with a big price tag, but since you only use a small amount at a time, a little bag goes a long way.
Chia is Champ
If you haven’t tried chia yet, you’re missing out! Their only downside is the little seeds can get stuck in your teeth—a small price to pay for all that nutrition.
Looking to go a bit more plant-based? Or maybe you just need a bit more fibre in your diet? Either way, chia is a recipe for success! Speaking of recipes, try this delicious chia pudding parfait – it’s nutritious enough for breakfast, but delicious enough for dessert!