What Are Chia Seeds?

What are chia seeds? We used to grow them on terracotta statues, now we eat them for breakfast. Read on to find out everything you should know about chia seeds. 

Cha-cha-cha-chia! Those old school Chia Pet commercials are burned into my brain. They seemed to come on every other commercial break, back when we watched TV with commercials instead of streaming programs with limited commercial interruptions. I even got a Chia Pet Bob Ross one year as a Christmas present. I gifted it to my sister a year later. But how did those little packets of seeds become a supposed superfood and health trend? What are chia seeds, exactly? How do you eat chia seeds? Where do chia seeds come from? What do chia seeds taste like? Let’s go down the chia rabbit hole for some answers!

What are chia seeds?

Chia seeds are tiny little seeds that come from a flowering plant in the mint family called Salvia hispanica. Chia seeds are roundish. They are dark gray with black and white spots. And they are tiny. They have a diameter of around 2 millimeters. But these itty-bitty seeds can absorb 12 times their weight in water and form a gel. 

Somewhat recently, these nutrient-dense chia seeds exploded in popularity thanks to their perceived health benefits. Those little things are stuffed to the brim with fiber, healthy fats, and magnesium. Chia seeds have also been shown to lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels, and keep high blood pressure in check. Just one ounce of chia seeds contains around 9.75 grams of fiber. Chia seeds are also high in antioxidants and may help reduce free-radicals, reduce inflammation, improve blood sugar, and help manage weight. 

Where do chia seeds come from?

Chia seeds are native to Mexico and Guatemala where they have been used since ancient Aztec and Mesoamerican times. Today, chia seeds can come from Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Argentina, Australia, and the United States where they’re commercially grown. 

What do chia seeds taste like? 

Chia seeds have a subtle, slightly nutty flavor. They really don’t taste like much and it’s more of a texture thing. Some folks say they taste like alfalfa sprouts or poppy seeds but just a hint. Chia seeds’ most distinct quality is their texture when you turn them into a gel. When you add chia seeds to liquid, they still retain their crunchiness, but the crunchy seeds are suspended in a silky goo.   

How to eat chia seeds? 

Chia seeds are super tiny, so you’re not going to eat them one at a time or toss a handful in your mouth like sunflower seeds. One of the easiest ways to incorporate chia seeds into your regular meal rotation is to just pour some into a shake or a smoothie. They’re also great mixed into overnight oats or cereal. Chia seeds can be baked into bread, cakes, or pancakes. They go great in jam, dips, and yogurt

You can also make chia seeds the main attraction by whipping up chia seed pudding. All you need to do is soak some chia seeds with almond milk (or another milk of your choosing). Chia pudding is wonderful when mixed with some sweetener and fruits. Chia pudding is also great to wrestle in—if only I could get someone to agree to a match. Oh well, looks like I’m eating a kiddie-pool full of chia pudding alone again!

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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