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Why You Need to Be Eating Chia Seeds—And 23 Ways to Do It

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Don’t let their size fool you. Small but mighty, chia seeds pack plenty of nutrition into a tiny package. Derived from a plant called Salvia hispanica, they were originally a primary energy source for the Aztecs and Mayans, who named them after the Mayan word for “strength.”
Just a single one-ounce serving of chia seeds (about two tablespoons) contains 11 grams of fiber and four grams of protein, along with generous amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium and vitamins B3, B1 and B2. They’re also a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease while acting as an anti-inflammatory.
And because of their low calorie content (137 calories per serving), chia seeds fit nicely into any weight loss or maintenance plan. Plus, the high fiber and protein content helps keep you feeling fuller for longer, which keeps you satisfied until your next planned snack or meal.
Now that you know why you should embrace chia seeds, you might be wondering how. Most experts say it’s best to consume them when mixed with other foods or liquids, as some people may have difficulty swallowing the seeds in their dry, raw form.
“When combined with a liquid, chia seeds develop a gelatinous texture, so it's great for binding or thickening in recipes,” notes food blogger Renata Trebing, who often uses the seeds in her jam recipes in place of processed thickeners. They can also help to enhance the texture of gravies, sauces, dips and dressings. Or, to add chia seeds in a pinch, you can simply sprinkle them into smoothies, smoothie bowls, yogurt, oatmeal or pudding.
Because chia seeds absorb so much liquid, they also make a great egg substitute when baking, notes Karen Gilman, registered holistic nutritionist and founder of Nutrilicious. Simply combine one tablespoon of ground chia seeds and three tablespoons of water and let the mixture sit until thick.
Looking for more ways to get creative in the kitchen with chia seeds? Some of our favorite chefs, nutritionists and chia lovers shared their inspired ideas.

Power Packed Granola: An easy homemade granola recipe packed with chia seeds, flax seeds and fiber that tastes even better than it smells.

Image courtesy of Six Sisters Stuff

Strawberry Overnight Oats: Choose from two delicious varieties for an easy, healthy, make-ahead breakfast.

Image courtesy of Family Food on the Table

Paleo Chia Seed Jam: Made with frozen berries, it’s sweetened with coconut sugar and contains no refined sugar.

Image courtesy of Tastes Lovely

Strawberry Lemon Chia Seed Protein Muffins
: Packed with protein and bursting with juicy fruit, they make the perfect grab-and-go breakfast or snack.

Image courtesy of Amy's Healthy Baking

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie With Spinach
: Full of wholesome ingredients, it’s a great way to get in some extra greens.

Image courtesy of Family Food on the Table

Salty Maple Nut Energy Bites
: Fuel up with these vegan, gluten-free bites before or during your next endurance workout, or toss some into your bag to power your workday.

Image courtesy of Fannetastic Food

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
: Made with a rich base of sunflower seeds, these whole-grain cookies are nut- and sugar-free and high in protein.

Image courtesy of Occasionally Eggs

Overnight Chia Seed Pudding With Spicy Melon Puree
: A simple and delicious breakfast without any hassle.

Image courtesy of My Pure Plants

Overnight Warm Chocolate Coconut Oats
: Prepare this thick, creamy and delicious breakfast anytime and let it sit in the fridge until morning.

Image courtesy of The Healthy Apple

Lemon Chia Seed Protein Cookies
: Brighten up your day with sunshiny, lemony flavor—plus, with plenty of protein and nutrients, they’re healthy enough for breakfast!

Image courtesy of Amy's Healthy Baking

Vegan Chocolate Chia Pudding
: Made with dates and non-dairy milk and flavored with orange zest, it makes a creamy, healthy breakfast or light dessert.

Image courtesy of Occasionally Eggs

Healthy Peanut Butter Energy Balls
: Made with just four wholesome ingredients, they make a great post-workout snack, afternoon snack or on-the-go energy boost.

Image courtesy of Family Food on the Table

Vegan Vanilla Almond Cupcakes
: Super moist and naturally sweetened, they take less than five minutes to prepare.

Image courtesy of The Healthy Apple

DIY Superfood Chocolates
: Chia seeds add the “super” element of these decadently healthy desserts.

Image courtesy of Nourish with Renata

Nut and Seed Bars
: Filled with vitamins and minerals, these homemade granola bar alternatives contain only whole ingredients that you can actually pronounce.

Image courtesy of Nutrilicious

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
: Although it’s rich and decadent, the chia seeds add some healthy fats and protein.

Image courtesy of The Pretty Bee

Cozy Sunflower Seed Banana Bread
: Made with tahini, dates, and seeds, this ultra-healthy, banana bread is packed with wholesome ingredients.

Image courtesy of Occasionally Eggs

Matcha Green Tea Chia Oats
: This bright, citrus-inspired breakfast is enhanced with the health benefits of matcha and chia seeds.

Image courtesy of Sunkist

Keto Carrot Cake Oatmeal
: This thick, creamy cereal alternative can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Image courtesy of The Big Man's World

Raspberry Pineapple Smoothie Bowl
: Packed with vibrant fruits and nutrient-dense toppings.

Image courtesy of Nourish with Renata

Peanut Butter Pie
: This vegan recipe folds the superfood ingredient into the creamy, nutty filling for an extra nutritional punch.

Image courtesy of The Spruce Eats

Strawberry Chia Seed Muffins
: Coconut flour muffins with a bright and flavorful strawberry chia jam swirl.

Image courtesy of Leelalicious

Superfood Chia Seed Parfait
: This colorful parfait is a healthy way to start your morning.

Image courtesy of The Pretty Bee

What are your favorite ways to sneak chia seeds into your diet? Any favorite recipes? Share in the comments below!