A Hot New Food: Chia Seed

by in Food News, June 17, 2009

One of the latest “superfoods” is actually a blast from the past! Remember Chia Pet, the fuzzy novelty plants that were popular in the ‘80s? Well, the sprouts that grow out of those pottery figurines come from germinated chia seeds. These days, the seeds are popular in the health food arena, but are they worth the hype?

What Is Chia?
Chia seeds come from an annual herb that belongs to the mint family. Native to Mexico (chia comes from an Aztec word meaning “oily”), health-food fans praise them for their high fiber and healthy omega-3 fat content (they’ve got ALA, similar to flax seeds). Because of these nutrients, Chia is often pushed for helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and treat symptoms of diabetes. Some small studies have tied eating chia seeds to lowering blood pressure, but the jury’s still out on the effects of long-term consumption, particularly in men at risk for prostate cancer (too much ALA can increase risks more).

One of the most popular packaged and sold versions of chia is Salba — and it comes in a variety of ways: whole or ground seed or as an oil in liquid or gelcaps. They also offer snack bars. You can use ground chia like you might use wheat germ — add it to smoothies, yogurt, cereals and salads. It also works in baking; use three parts flour to one part ground chia powder. Like many hot new “health foods,” chia can be expensive; I found prices ranging from $20-30 for a one-month supply.

Nutrition Info
One tablespoon of ground chia seed has 46 calories, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 1900 milligrams of ALA omega-3 fats (about 300 milligrams more than the same amount of ground flaxseed). Chia also contains calcium, iron, magnesium, copper and vitamin C.

Bottom Line
Chia might be worth trying in small amounts, but don’t get too attached. Flaxseed, whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables provide many of the same nutrients and are more readily available (and cheaper). If you’re curious, go for it, but mix things up to keep your diet exciting.

TELL US: Have you tried it yet? What did you think?

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Comments (16)

  1. ataste4health says:

    I rehydrate them & add to smoothies… YUM

  2. Great post! My nutrition facts differ a bit from yours, nothing major though. I'm a dietitian and use the USDA Nutrient data base for my nutrition info. Bottom line, chia and flax are super nutritious seeds! I love gardening too and have been hooked on both growing and eating CHIA. You all may enjoy this 3-part article series I wrote: "Check out CHIA – A Super Salvia" http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3355/ Great to see so many chia fans!

  3. Nice post at A Hot New Food: Chia Seed | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Very useful information particularly the last part :) I care for such information a lot. I was seeking this particular info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  4. whodan says:

    Oh my goodness! an incredible post dude. Thank you Nonetheless I’m experiencing challenge with ur rss . Don know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone acquiring related rss drawback? Anybody who knows kindly respond. Thnkx 165118

  5. very nice blog i like it

  6. DawnMarie says:

    I havent tried it as of yet, but I have a friend that's been eating it for about 4 months now. He loves it. Promotes it to the highest. He's an older guy and says he can see a big difference in his health. He has more energy, feels good, he even seems to be physically doing much better. He's stopped taking some of his meds. I'm curious to try it myself. I plan to buy some very soon. He's been taking a brand named "Salba" I looked it up on line and found Salba is the same as Chia seed but much more expensive.

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