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Tasty Tuesday by Anna Grindeland, RD, CD: Ch-ch-ch-chia!

Anna Grindeland, RD, CD

Written by WHMC supplemental dietitian, Leah Haak Beck, RD, CD

Chia seeds aren't just for your Chia pet anymore. It may come as a surprise that chia seeds can be a nutritious addition to our diets.

What are chia seeds?

Chia comes from the mint family and is grown primarily in Central and South America. Chia seeds are becoming quite popular in the health food scene the last couple years, and it is of no surprise. This tiny "superfood" is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, iron, magnesium and zinc.

Some studies suggest that including chia seeds as part of a balanced diet can reduce risk factors of heart disease such as blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood triglycerides. However more research needs to be done to prove these claims.

Does this mean that chia seeds will cure all of my health problems?

Unfortunately, no. Chia seeds are not a magical cure for anything. However, they are a fun food to try if you are looking for something new and nutritious.

Chia seeds, like any other food, do not contain all the nutrients that our bodies need. It is important to remember to eat a variety of foods from all of the food groups. An overall nutritious and varied diet can help us to lead healthier lives. Moderation is the key!

How do I incorporate chia seeds into my diet?

With chia seeds, a little bit goes a long way. Keep that in mind while experimenting with this "superfood" seed.

  1. Raw chia seeds can be sprinkled onto dishes for crunch. Try topping your yogurt, pancakes, or pasta.
  2. Chia seeds become gelatinous in texture when soaked in liquid. Because of this, a popular way to prepare chia seeds is to make pudding. If you enjoy the texture of tapioca, you may want to try it! Get creative with toppings (fruits, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.).
  3. Chia seeds can also be used as a thickener since they absorb liquid. Keep in mind that the end result will not be smooth like it would be with a powder thickener such as flour or corn starch. Despite this, chia seeds can be a great addition to a pesto or marinara sauce, or even soup to soak up excess liquid.
  4. You may find products in the grocery store containing chia seeds such as smoothies, granola bars, and cereals.
  5. Try chia seeds in your next cookie or muffin batch. Chia seeds can be a nutritious, crunchy addition to baked goods.

Chia pudding recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/chia-seed-pudding.html

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The information found in the Health Library is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor does it represent the views or position of WHMC. Readers should always consult with their healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment, including for specific medical needs.