There's good reason chia seeds have been on every healthy eating Pinterest board recently. These tiny seeds are high in protein, fibre, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3s, but there is a right and wrong way to eat them, and one man recently learned the hard way.
In one patient case study, one man experienced intense dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, after ingesting a tablespoon of dry chia seeds and chasing it with water. One of the reasons chia seeds are touted for weight loss is because they expand multiple times their size in water and help you feel full for longer. However, taking down a dry tablespoon and chasing it back with H2O is not going to lead to a comfortable experience, since they don't have time to reach your stomach to expand.
Soaking chia seeds in water before you eat them is safe; after they're soaked, chia seeds develop a gelatinous coating which some raw foodists believe helps them to move swiftly through the digestive track. Other evidence suggests that consuming ground chia seeds, rather than whole seeds, allows significantly more ALA (the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids) to reach the bloodstream. With all that said, there is limited scientific research to which method is truly the best when it comes to nutrient absorption.
Photo: Lizzie Fuhr
When they're included in a recipe, our bodies can digest chia seeds whole (an appropriate quantity, of course), soaked, or ground in order to reap their healthy benefits. If you're ready to get these nutrient-rich seeds into your diet, these recipe ideas will help you out.
Chia pudding: Chia seeds and coconut milk marry for a Paleo-friendly make-ahead pudding that works great for breakfast. Mix together the ingredients the night before, pop it in the fridge, and look forward to a special treat the next day. It's that easy.
Debloating beverage: If you've been feeling sluggish and bloated, it's time for a new morning ritual that includes chia. Celebrity trainer Valerie Waters starts the day with this before-breakfast, pre-workout drink that only calls for three ingredients. These chia seeds are combined with water, making this a much safer alternative to consuming chia and chasing it down with water.
Blueberry chia muffins: Blueberry muffins get an upgrade with this chia-filled recipe for extra nutrient power. They're baked into the batter, so you can't even taste them.
Antioxidant berry smoothie: If you find their crunchy texture a little off-putting on their own, try tossing them into this refreshing morning smoothie. High in vitamin C and boasting more than 10 grams of fibre, this antioxidant breakfast blend will become your new favourite recipe.
Sprinkled on yogurt: If you're looking for a quick omega-3 punch in your snack, you can simply sprinkle a teaspoon of seeds on your fruit, mix them into your yogurt, or make a delicious combination of the two!