Does ͞being healthy͟ feel like a daunting task? Like everything ͞good͟ is off limits and a really good diet is pretty boring? I thought like this for a long time too… but I'm happy to say it's not the case ;-)
Eating healthy is fun! I'm being serious here… there are hundreds of different healthy foods that taste amazing and give you tons of energy… I cannot wait to share them with you! That's why i created ͞The Secret Foods͟ blog series which will be dedicated to the most amazing foods on the planet (in no particular order), What they are, Why they are important, and How to enjoy them… Here goes…
Top 10 AMAZING goods you need on your plate TODAY
#10 of 10 Chia Seeds
What they are…
Besides being the green fur for those ͞ch-ch-ch-chia͟ pets, chia seeds have numerous health benefits. Chia seeds, more formally known as salvia hispanica, are a flowering plant in the mint family. ͞Chia͟ is the ancient Mayan word for strength, as these seeds were valued for their energy-boosting properties. Chia seeds are mostly grown in Mexico and Bolivia, however in 2014 an American chia seed growing company was established. Chia seeds can flower into a purple white flower and can produce numerous clusters at the end of each stem. What we consume, are those clusters and they come in two colors, black and white. Both have similar amounts of nutrients, although darker seeds may contain more antioxidants. Chia has similar health benefits to flax seeds, however may have an edge on flax since they don't have to be ground prior to consumption and they last longer as well, they are said to last up to two years without refrigeration, thanks to their high levels of antioxidants.
Why they’re important…
Chia seeds are a quick and easy-to-use source of protein that provides healthy fats, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. So much goodness all rolled into one little package. They are an easy, filling way to boost your nutrition to that extra mile.
Top 5 Health Benefits…
1. Aids in recovery. Chia is packed with antioxidants and all 9 essential amino acids. We need amino acids to build tissues for our body. The protein in chia can help with cell and tissue regeneration. Plus the high levels of antioxidants fight inflammation and free radicals who make it harder to recover.
2. Energy Booster. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning showed that consuming chia seeds enhanced exercise performance for 90 plus minutes. By adding a serving of chia seeds a day, you can help keep that energy up through the second match, or at the end of a long practice.
3. Builds Strong Bones. Chia seeds provide 18% of daily recommended value for calcium, 35% percent for phosphorus, 24% of magnesium, and about 50% for manganese. These minerals are important for bone health. Plus, two tablespoons seeds provide 18% of the recommend amount of calcium needed for the day. Calcium is the base in bone health, plus is can help maintain bone strength and mass.
4. Healthy fat. Chia is a high source of omega 3 fatty acids. Chia seeds actually have more omega- 3s that salmon, gram for gram. Omega-3 has been proven to reduce inflammation and can enhance cognitive performance.
5. Increased hydration. As an athlete, one of the most important aspects of your nutrition program should include hydration. Chia seeds are very absorbent, resulting in better regulation of body fluids and electrolyte retention. This is a perfect aid for when you are working hard and sweating a lot.
How to enjoy them…
Chia seeds can be eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes. Chia seeds are very absorbent and develop a gelatinous texture when soaked in liquid, making it easy to mix them into cooked cereal or other dishes. Chia seeds can be found at health food store and well stocked supermarkets. Purchase the whole seeds, not ground, to prevent rancidity. Chia seeds have a long shelf life and will keep for several years when stored in a cool, dry place.
Top 5 Ways to Eat Chia Seeds…
1. Chia pudding. When chia seeds are soaked in water overnight, they take on a gelatinous, tapioca-like texture. Add some cinnamon, cocoa powder or honey. Mix 1/4 cup chia seeds with 1 cup liquid (water, milk, almond milk, etc) should be a good ratio.
2. As a topping. Chia seeds can be added to pretty much any dish. Options range from yogurt to applesauce to smoothies. Keep in mind that they will take on a gelatinous texture after they mix with a liquid, so if you prefer a crunch, sprinkle them on just before eating. 1-2 tablespoons give a great nutrition punch to meals.
3. In a smoothie. Add 1tbsp to you’re favorite smoothie to get the power packed benefits of chia.
4. On-the-Go Snacks. Homemade items are the most recommended for chia seed consumption, however, there are ready-made pouches that contain chia seeds as a primary ingredient. Keep an eye out for the sugar content for these, but if you're on a time crunch, they can make a good snack on-the-go
5. As a Chia Spread You can blend chia seeds with berries and honey to make your own homemade jam. You won't need pectin because chia seeds gel-up just fine on their own.
I hope you are enjoyed the secret foods! What would you like to learn about next? I have a few ideas but would love feedback on what you want to hear about. Feel free to share some ideas of topics that would interest you!
Eat power food, be powerful. If you need any questions answered, shoot me an email at
Lindsay Wexler, RDN, CSSD, LD
Clinical Dietitian, Board Certified Sports Dietitian