If you grew up in the ’80s, you will likely remember the Chia Pet. It was a terracotta figurine in which you planted chia seeds in certain spots, and then the sprouts would grow out to resemble hair or fur, depending on what the figurine was.
Well, now chia has had a resurgence in popularity, but this time it’s as food.
Chia seeds have become a power food and even made the list of six top superfood seeds to eat in 2014.
How many chia seeds to eat per day or even how to eat chia seeds, period, can be perplexing, but it’s simple.
The seeds absorb liquid and become robust over time, much like tapioca does, so to benefit from the amazing nutritional profile of these seeds, just add them to yogurt, cereal, baked goods, smoothies, or salads, to name a few.
You can even soak them overnight in a blend of almond milk (or any milk of your choice) vanilla, fruit, and sugar to create a creamy pudding that can be eaten the next morning.
Chia seeds are part of the Salvia hispanica family, the same family mint belongs to. The ancient Aztecs and Mayans used chia as a main source of nourishment; in fact, chia is the Mayan word for strength, and the seeds do have energy-boosting properties. However, some people need to be careful when eating these seeds because chia seeds and stomach pain can go hand-in-hand.
Chia Seeds: How Many per Day?
There aren’t any hard-and-fast guidelines on how many chia seeds you can eat per day, but realistically there’s no need to eat more than 20 grams a day—that amount will provide you with what you need.
Look to other sources as well; you want to eat from many different foods so as to benefit from their nutritional profiles.
- Adults can eat 15 to 20 grams (approximately two to three tablespoons) of chia seeds, whole or ground, per day. This will provide the daily requirement for omega-3s.
- Children and teens from ages 10 to 18 can eat up to 10 grams of chia seeds per day.
- Children under 10 should not eat more than a tablespoon of chia seeds. (But kudos to you if you get them to eat even that.)
- When used for cardiovascular health, adults can consume up to 33 to 45 grams of blended seeds daily for three months. Note: Blending high amounts of chia seeds into a powder is important so that the stomach does not get bombarded by too many seeds. The seeds can cause gastrointestinal issues and even get stuck in the lining of the digestive tract.
|Kids Under 10||Kids 10 to 18||Adults|
|Not more than 1 tablespoon||Up to 10 grams||15 to 20 grams|
What about eating chia seeds to help lose weight? First of all, remember that no one food is a magic bullet. You need to eat a properly balanced diet that includes superfoods such as chia seeds. Weight loss is determined by how many calories you eat per day and what the source of those calories is from (are you making wise food decisions?), plus your genetics and activity level.
So the question isn’t how many chia seeds per day for weight loss, it’s more about taking a look at your overall diet and lifestyle and making the appropriate changes.
Nutritional Analysis of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are packed with fiber, magnesium, antioxidants, zinc, iron and calcium, so it’s little wonder why this tiny seed has been given a big thumbs-up by health aficionados. One ounce of chia seeds (approximately 28 grams) contains:
- 137 calories
- 9 grams of fat
- 12 grams of carbohydrates
- 11 grams of fiber
- 4 grams of protein
- 177 milligrams of calcium
- 265 milligrams of phosphorous
How to Incorporate Chia Seeds into Your Diet
Chia seeds are virtually tasteless, so they can be added to many recipes without anyone knowing otherwise, except for the telltale little black specks. As mentioned, you can add chia seeds to breakfast cereals, yogurt, and smoothies, but you can also incorporate them in your baking.
When baking muffins and cake, be sure to add a quarter cup of chia seeds—they will actually add moisture to the dish, but remember to also add a little extra liquid to compensate for the fact that chia will soak up a lot of it. If you make homemade bread, be sure to add some chia in there as well for extra protein.
An interesting way to get chia seeds into your diet is to add them to a coating mixture, like the breading for fish sticks or chicken fingers. They will add a nutty flavor and a bit of a different texture.
Potential Side Effects of Chia Seeds
Chia seed side effects do exist, but overall they’re safe to eat. A few concerns to note:
- Chia contains a high amount of vitamin B17, so if you’re already taking a B17 supplement, try to avoid eating too much chia, as it can lead to a phytonutrient overdose.
- If you have a high triglyceride count, use Salba (a type of chia) instead of normal chia, because it doesn’t overly increase triglyceride levels.
- There is a lot of alpha-linolenic acid in chia seeds, and some research suggests that large amounts of alpha-linolenic acid in the diet could increase chances of getting prostate cancer.
Precautions while Consuming Chia Seeds
Those who have trouble swallowing need to be careful when consuming dry chia seeds. Seeds can get stuck in the throat, so it’s best not to give them to children under four. For young ones, soak the chia seeds in water or yogurt, or bake them into muffins instead.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“11 Proven Health Benefits of Chia Seeds (No. 3 is Best),” Authority Nutrition web site; https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/, last accessed April 20, 2016.
“Chia,” Web MD web site; http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1224-chia.aspx?activeingredientid=1224, last accessed April 20, 2016.