Chia: The nutrition-packed power seed

Posted by Allie Wergin, R.D.N.
February 26, 2015

Allyn Mahowald RDN

The chia seed — no, not the Chia Pet from the infomercial — is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. Its origin is believed to be in Central America where the seed was a staple in the diets of ancient Mayans and Aztecs. The word chia is derived from the Mayan language, meaning “strength.”

Chia is indeed one powerful little seed. A 1 ounce serving (about 2 tablespoons) contains 138 calories, 9 grams of fat (almost all healthy unsaturated fat), 10 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. It is high in antioxidants and is also an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, containing 4,500 milligrams per serving. Emerging research suggests that including chia seeds as part of a healthy diet may help improve cardiovascular health, such as lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.

When combined with liquid, chia seeds develop a gelatinous texture, making them easy to mix into cooked cereals or other dishes. The seeds can also be used as a substitute for eggs in baked goods, helpful for vegans or those with egg allergies. Simply mix one part chia seeds to six parts water. About 1 tablespoon of the gel equals one large egg.

Chia seeds have a mild, nutty flavor that goes well with both sweet and savory dishes. Sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds onto cereals, salads or rice dishes. Add to smoothies, yogurt, pudding or quick bread batters. Thanks to their antioxidant qualities, chia seeds don’t go bad quickly and can be stored in a cool, dry place for several months. 

Strawberry Chia Jam


1 cup frozen strawberries

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)


1. Thaw berries and mash with a fork 

2. Add honey and chia seeds to berries and mix together 

3. Let jam sit for 20 minutes; chia seeds will gel, thickening the puree

To store, place the jam in an airtight jar or other container and keep refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Nutrition information: (per 2 tablespoon serving) calories: 25; total fat: 0.6 grams; total carbohydrate: 4.5 grams; fiber: 1 gram; protein: 0.5 grams

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Comments (6)

I put one cup each of the following and blend it together on just the chop mode. 1 cup of cranberries,blueberries,raspberries,blackberries,kiwi and fill to top with filtered water. After that I put about half a cup of chia seeds in so they can absorb the liquid and swell up. . II drink about 16 oz. of this each day along with eating a couple of servings of fresh vegetables. I have mild stage of chirrosis of my liver. I also take 175 mg. of milk thistsle capsules each day.Im 61 years old. I'm about 25 pounds overweight and working on that with exercise. Is this drink I make good for my health issue? Thanks,Randy

randy - 10/17/2016

The Mayo Clinic book on alternative therapy doesn't include anything on chia seeds. Is it the same as flaxseed--estrogen level? I take about 1 1/2 tablespoons of chia seeds in a day. Please advise if that's too much.

Sandy Chase - 07/01/2016

Do Chia seeds contain chromium? Are the seeds good in regulating blood sugar?

Sarasota Babe - 05/27/2016

Is chai seeds safe to eat during pregnancy? I am 27, vegetarian, 5 weeks pregnant and have a history of one missed abortion. Any suggestion will be highly appreciated.

Dinal - 08/17/2015

If I take 81 mg of aspirin daily, can I take 1 oz of Chia Seed daily

Roberto Orces - 08/17/2015

Please advise on the advised way to eat chia - as is or combined with liquid? And why is advised to eat them in a certain way. Thank you, Aria

aria - 07/29/2015

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