Chia seeds are a powerhouse superfood with many nutritional perks, from calcium for bone strength to fibre for optimal digestion. This Ultimate Guide to Chia Seeds explains how to use chia seeds, why they are so beneficial, and what to look for when buying them!

What are chia seeds?

Chia seeds are small black seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica, and they’ve around for hundreds of years! Chia seeds have a variety of health benefits, different uses in baking and cooking, and are known for the energy they provide!

They contain all of the Omegas (3, 6, and 9), an impressive amount of protein, fat, and fibre, and are easy to prepare and add to various recipes!

Nowadays, you can buy chia seeds in any grocery store. Just look in the health food aisles, or near the nuts and seeds. Most bulk grocery stores have them in the self-serve aisles as well.

How to use chia seeds

Chia seeds can be prepared in many different ways, but the most common way is to soak them. By soaking them in different kinds of milk, fruit juices, or sauces, you can make chia pudding, chia jam, or chia mousse.

Chia seeds can expand 10x, absorbing both the liquid and the flavour that they’re sitting in. The more chia seeds you add, the more liquid you need to add – if you add more chia than liquid, some will remain raw and crunchy.

It’s okay to eat them raw, but if your goal is to make them soft and gel-like, more liquid will help. To soak chia seeds, the chia-to-liquid ratio depends on your desired texture.

  • For a runny consistency, you’ll need 6 parts of liquid per 1 part chia
    • Ex: 1/4 cup chia, 1 1/2 cup liquid
  • For a thicker consistency, you’ll need 4 parts of liquid per 1 part chia
    • Ex: 1/4 cup of chia, 1 cup liquid

White vs black chia seeds

When shopping for chia seeds, you may notice that there are two different kinds, black and white. Black chia seeds are a lot more common than white chia seeds, but honestly, there aren’t that many differences.

Black chia seeds have slightly more protein content, whereas white chia seeds have slightly more Omega-3’s.

However, try to avoid brown chia seeds if you happen to find them. True chia seeds are black or white in color, and brown seeds won’t have the same nutritional value.

Chia seed troubleshooting

If you’ve tried cooking with chia seeds before, but aren’t sure how to use them, it can be a little frustrating! Here are some common issues that come with using chia seeds, and how to fix them.

Why aren’t my chia seeds gelling?

  • Time: Gelling chia seeds takes time! Recipes like chia pudding are best when chia sits in liquid for a few hours, or even overnight. If you want your chia seeds to have that gel-like consistency, they need to sit for a minimum of 20 minutes to absorb the liquid. Be patient!
  • Liquid: If there’s not enough liquid in the bowl with your chia seeds, not all of them will gel! Make sure that you have enough liquid for all of the seeds to absorb, at least 4 parts liquid for every 1 part chia seeds.
  • Quality: If your chia seeds are old, they might not absorb liquids that well! Check your expiration dates, and make sure to store your chia seeds in a cool, dry place.

Why does my stomach hurt after eating chia seeds?

  • Digestion: Because chia seeds are so high in fibre, some people can get stomach pains after eating them. Your stomach may not be used to digesting chia seeds yet, so start consuming them in small quantities. Soaking them also helps ease digestion, rather than eating them raw.
  • Quantity: When it comes to fibre, too much can be detrimental to your day. Eating too many chia seeds can put a strain on your gut, and cause bloating or “movement” issues if you catch my drift. Try not to eat more than 2 Tbsp of chia seeds a day (that’s 2 Tbsp before soaking) for optimal digestion if you’re struggling to digest chia seeds.

Health benefits of chia seeds

Chia seeds are a total nutrition powerhouse. Each tiny seed packs in a lot of nutrients! The standard serving size is two tablespoons, which give a lot of chia once they’re soaked. Chia seeds are loaded with fibre, protein, healthy fats, calcium, and antioxidants. The healthy fats are protected by antioxidants, so they don’t go rancid while sitting at room temperature.

Chia seeds are also loaded with Omegas 3, 6, and 9, but mostly Omega-3’s. Their vitamins and nutrients help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce risk against heart disease and diabetes, and contain elements like calcium and phosphorous to keep your bones strong and healthy.

Chia Seeds FAQ

  • Can you eat raw chia seeds? Yes! Raw chia seeds carry the same health benefits as soaked chia seeds. They’re a great option to cook with or add to granola bars!
  • How do you bake with chia seeds? You can bake with raw or soaked chia seeds, depending on the recipe. If you’re making a chia bread, it’s best to soak the chia seeds before baking to create a softer texture.
  • What’s a good substitute for chia seeds? Texture-wise in baking, flaxseeds are a good substitute for chia seeds. However, flaxseeds do have a more earthy flavour, and don’t gel like chia seeds do.
  • What do chia seeds taste like? On their own, they’re pretty bland, so they will adapt to the flavour of whatever you’re cooking them with.
  • Can chia seeds help you lose weight? Chia seeds are high in fibre and Omega-3’s, so they could help with weight loss! Also, because chia expands in your stomach and when in contact with liquid, they make you feel fuller for longer.
  • Can I add chia seeds to water and drink it? Yes! The best way to do this is to add 1-2 tbsp of chia seeds to 500ml of water and let it sit for at least an hour to gel. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice for extra flavour.

Chia seed recipes to try

If you’re ready to try using chia seeds, here are some great recipes you’ll love. They all use chia seeds in unique ways, so from pudding to bread, grab your bag of chia seeds in your pantry and start cooking!