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What's the Deal with Chia Seeds?

By HERWriter Guide
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what is the big deal about chia seeds? iStockphoto/Thinkstock

On a recent weekend away, a friend introduced me to chia seeds, and told me all about the benefits. She's a big believer in these tiny, off-white seeds that neither smell nor taste strong.

I had never heard of them before so decided to do a little research. It turns out they are a new concept to a lot of people.

Are they some newly-discovered seed, I wanted to know? How have so many people not heard of them before?

Why are they so good for us?

I came home to do a little research on them and now seem to be seeing information on them everywhere, with accompanying raves, not to mention the relief for many that they are gluten-free.

The packet that I came home with, courtesy of my friend, is an organic pack of white chia seeds which, according to the back of the packet, were used by Aztec warriors who "would consume a mixture of Chia and water during hunting trips to endure stamina and performance."

So they certainly aren't newly discovered!

Chia seeds do have great nutritional qualities to them, including being packed with omega-3 essential fatty acids, calcium, iron and lots of fiber -- which we're often told Americans are lacking in their diet.

And one of the best benefits of chia seeds is great for people like me -- vegetarians, who need to seek out omega-3 fatty acid-filled foods that we are not getting from foods like fish.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids that the body cannot make by itself are important for brain function and also linked to helping with depression.

According to an EmpowHER article, "Improving Your Brain Health with Omega-3 Fatty Acids" by Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch, "...not having enough omega-3 fatty acids can cause some health problems. For example, symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include poor circulation, poor memory, fatigue, dry skin, mood swings and heart problems."

Fiber is necessary for good digestive health and anyone with poor digestive health can attest to how painful and troublesome it can be.

The Harvard School of Public Health states that people should be consuming 25-35 grams of fiber a day, yet the average American only consumes about 15 grams per day.

The School of Public Health also states that fiber may also help guard against colon cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. At the very least, it really helps with bowel movements!

Calcium is vital for healthy teeth and bones and iron is necessary for healthy blood. Chia seeds contain both and again, iron is especially important for those with special diets like vegetarianism or special needs diets that require elimination of red meat or other foods that contain iron.

Eating these seeds is easy. They are small and unobtrusive. Sprinkle them anywhere from on your cereal to oatmeal to yogurt and granola breakfasts.

They can also be incorporated into muffins, other healthy treats, salads or eaten on their own.

Chia seeds are touted as being almost invisible to the taste buds. However I find them to be a bit grainy in large doses and can taste them in breakfast cereal.

They leave a very mild aftertaste but in my experience, not the most pleasant. Maybe I'm too picky but the texture of food is important to me and I find that smaller doses work better for me.

The brand I am using recommends taking up to five tablespoons of chia seeds per day. That's too much for my liking. But incorporating small portions (I use a teaspoon) into a few meals is a better option.

I do know that increased fiber intake is important for my diet and the fact that these seeds are high in omega-3 will have this vegetarian coming back for more.

Tell Us
Have you heard of chia seeds? Are they part of your diet? What do you like/dislike about them?


EmpowHER.com. "Improving Your Brain Health with Omega-3 Fatty Acids". Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch.Web. Retrieved August 13th 2012.

Harvard School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Fiber: Start Roughing It! Web. Retrieved August 13th 2012.

Basic Report: Nutrient data for 12006, Seeds, chia seeds, dried. United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 24. Retrieved August 13th 2012.

Reviewed August 14, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

A significant number of people suffer from Reflux i.e. the pathological condition where the stomach fluids do not follow the normal path to the intestine but return, i.e. regress into the esophagus. Recorded that approximately 10-20% of the general population experiences the disease symptoms on a weekly basis...Somanabolic Muscle Maximizer Scam

April 17, 2013 - 4:03am
EmpowHER Guest

After reading this Article, it has peaked my interest in Chia Seeds. Before this, I have never heard of them before. Aztec warriors of the past have a reputation of expending a lot of energy so it would make sense for them to seek out a supplement that aids them in keeping their endurance up. Great article. Another site i go to view updated information regarding health, diet and exercise is http://harrisreviews.com. Very informative for the general public

August 17, 2012 - 10:14pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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