Benefits of Chia Seeds (and 27 Creative Ways to Use Them!)

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Uses and Benefits of Chia Seeds
Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Benefits of Chia Seeds (and 27 Creative Ways to Use Them!)

I’ve been using chia seeds in drinks and as an egg substitute in recipes for years. In fact, we just had homemade chia seed pudding with lunch today. While chia seeds can be an incredibly useful ingredient, especially for egg free or gluten free families, there is also a lot of conflicting information about these little seeds.

What are Chia Seeds?

Salvia hispanica, or the chia plant, is a species in the mint family that is native to Central America. The seeds of this herb are known as “chia seeds” and they have gained quite a bit of popularity in recent years.

Not only are they gluten/grain free naturally, but a single serving is reported to have:

  • as much calcium as a glass of milk
  • more Omega-3s than a serving of walnuts
  • as many antioxidants as blueberries.

They give you tons of energy but also won’t keep you awake at night and are supposed to be great for weight loss. Because they can absorb many times their size/weight in liquid, they are great for avoiding dehydration during exercise or exposure to heat.

Are Chia Seeds Good for You?

Chia seeds have a fascinating and long history of use by several cultures. I’m hesitant to use the word “superfood” because the word is so over-used in modern times and also because there are some confounding factors that may inhibit nutrient use.

Supposedly, the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incans used chia as a staple of their diet and as an energy food. Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language, and they were known as the “Indian Running Food” because runners and warriors would use them for sustenance while running long distances or during battle.

The Original “Super-Food”

Though these ancient cultures may not have completely understood the nutritional breakdown of these power-packed seeds, they noticed the benefits, and we now know that chia seeds are a good source of:

  • Essential Fatty Acids
  • Protein
  • Vitamins A, B, E and D
  • Minerals and vitamins like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, niacin, thiamine, and others
  • Antioxidants

Chia Seed Benefits

Benfits of Chia Seeds

Small but mighty, chia seeds have a variety of benefits (and a few cautions!) and are considered by many to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet.

1. They Are A Great Source of Protein

The chia seed is a great plant source of protein, containing 4.7 grams of protein per ounce. They contain all eight essential amino acids, a rarity for a non-animal based food and are much higher in protein than many other plants. They still don’t compare to animal-based proteins, but especially considering the other beneficial properties of chia seeds, they are worth consuming regularly.

2. Packed with Other Nutrients

Don’t let their tiny size fool you… chia seeds are a big source of many nutrients!

Just two tablespoons (about an ounce) contains 10 times the Omega-3s of an equal serving of walnuts, more iron than a cup of spinach and a host of other nutrients in smaller amounts. They are also a great source of beneficial fats, fiber and about as many antioxidants per serving as blueberries.

In fact, chia seeds contain the highest level of Omega-3s of any known plant. It is important to note that they contain Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA) form found in plant foods but not docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the form found in fatty fish.

The body can convert some ALA to DHA, but it is relatively inefficient at this process, so ideally, we should consume both ALA and DHA from food sources.

3. Support Digestion

There are several unique properties of chia seeds that make them beneficial for digestion. They are an excellent source of fiber at 11 grams per ounce. In fact, of the 12 grams of “carbohydrates” found in chia seeds, 11 are from fiber, which is indigestible to the body and which does not raise blood sugar or affect insulin levels like other forms of carbohydrates.

Essentially, the net carbohydrate in the chia seed is only 1 gram per ounce, making them a naturally low-carb and high-fiber food, with one serving providing the recommended daily amount of fiber. This fiber works as a pre-biotic in the digestive system, so while it isn’t digested and used directly, it feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut and may help improve gut health.

Chia seeds also have a unique ability to “gel” due to the soluble fiber content and the fact that the outer shell is hydrophilic and has the ability to absorb over 10x their weight in liquid. This makes them filling and satisfying. Researchers think that this gel action also occurs in the stomach, creating a barrier between carbohydrates and enzymes in the stomach which slows the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. This may account for some of the reported endurance benefits of chia seeds.

I’ve listed a few of my favorite recipes below that show how our family uses chia seeds, especially for breakfast.

4. Natural Appetite Suppressant

Chia Seeds are often recommended for those who are trying to lose weight Their ability to expand and slow digestibility helps keep a person feeling fuller longer. (source)

Additionally, as a good source of both protein and antioxidants, they may nutritionally support the body in other ways that promote weight loss. Due to their hydrophilic properties, chia seeds also promote hydration, which is important for maintaining a healthy weight.

Though the research is mixed on chia’s ability to directly promote weight loss, experts seem to agree that they are a great addition to a healthy diet and for those of us with kids who are hungry all the time, they are an easy (and filling) addition to many common foods. I love to serve some form of chia seed pudding for breakfast since it helps keep my kids full until lunch.

5. Promote Energy and Endurance

The Mayans and Aztecs originally used chia seeds for their energy and endurance benefits. They were known as “Indian Running Food” and warriors and athletes often consumed a chia seed gel prior to their events to maintain energy and stamina.

It turns out that these same benefits are just as applicable in modern times! In fact one study, found that a chia gel was as effective as energy drinks for maintaining athletic performance. In the study, participants were split into two groups. One group was given an energy drink, and another an energy drink/chia seed gel. Participants completed various running and endurance activities and their results were compared. The study found no difference in performance between the two groups and concluded that chia seeds were as effective as energy drinks in promoting athletic performance.

If you really want to optimize performance, try making this natural homemade energy drink and adding chia seeds for some added benefits!

6. Versatile and Easy to Use

Chia seeds can be easily added to many foods and drinks. They can be used whole or ground and can even serve as an egg substitute in recipes. Unlike some “superfoods” like spirulina, chia seeds don’t have a strong flavor and can be easily used in recipes and added to smoothies without affecting flavor.

I always keep a big bag of chia seeds on hand for use in recipes and to add to foods.

One Caution: Phytic Acid

Like all grains and seeds, chia seeds contain compounds called phytates that block the absorption of certain nutrients. These anti-nutrients are the reason that many ancient cultures soaked and fermented grains and seeds prior to eating them. This is also the reason that some people prefer to avoid them (and most other grains and seeds as well).

Chia seeds are naturally gluten free and are a good source of many nutrients, as I explained above. Though they do contain anti-nutrients, they do not contain as high of levels as many other nuts and seeds. There is also some evidence that soaking and rinsing the seeds may help reduce the levels of these compounds.

Since I typically use chia seeds as a thickener or added in moderation to recipes and not as the core part of a meal, I don’t worry too much about their phytate content. Some people experience gastrointestinal distress from consuming chia seeds in large amounts, so of course, don’t eat them if this happens to you.

How to Use Chia Seeds

Chia seeds can be used in various recipes and added to favorite foods. Depending on the texture you want to accomplish, there are several ways to use them:


Most sources recommend soaking chia seeds for the most benefit. Since they are hydrophilic, they will attract water in the body if not soaked or added to liquid, so if you choose not to soak them, it is best to drink a lot of liquids after consuming them. Additionally, at least one person has gotten chia seeds lodged in his throat after attempting to consume them dry, so it is not recommended to consume them un-soaked (they are difficult to chew).

Ground Up/Powdered

Another way to use them in recipes is to grind them up into a fine powder. This is especially helpful when you are using them as a thickener or want to get the benefits without changing the texture of a food. There is also some evidence that it may be easier for the body to absorb chia seeds when they are powdered before eating. See below for ways to incorporate ground chia seeds as an egg substitute or thickener.


If adding directly to foods or recipes that contain liquid, it isn’t necessary to soak or grind chia seeds first. They can be added directly to smoothies, soups, drinks, or even meat dishes to thicken without needing to soak first.

Uses for Chia Seeds

My Favorite Uses for Chia Seeds

I always keep chia seeds on hand in my kitchen for these various uses:

1. As a Safe Egg Substitute

I recommend a lot of egg consumption and many of my recipes contain eggs. I occasionally get questions from readers who need to adapt a recipe to avoid eggs, and from my research/testing, chia is one of the best options for this.

To substitute for an egg: Use 1 tablespoon finely ground chia seeds (grind them dry in a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder) and 3 tablespoons of water per egg in a baked recipe (does not work in place of eggs for omelets though…)

2. To Make Healthy Pudding

My kids favorite use of chia seeds is to make a homemade pudding with them. It’s easy to make and actually really healthy. Our go-to recipe is:

Put in a blender and blend until smooth. Will thicken in about 10 minutes in the fridge.

There are endless flavor variations. You can omit the cocoa powder and vanilla and add a cup of strawberries for a strawberry version, or add cinnamon and nutmeg for a Chai Chia Pudding.

View the printable recipe here.

3. To Thicken Soup or Gravies

If you don’t use cornstarch or thickening agents, it can sometimes be a challenge to thicken different culinary creations. Just add a couple tablespoons of chia seeds (powdered or not) at a time to reach the desired thickness.

4. To Make Grain Free Crackers

I’ve made several variations of these, including just mixing them with equal parts coconut milk to thicken, adding some garlic powder and sea salt, and baking at a low temp for a couple hours. I haven’t measured out my recipe yet to post here, but here’s another one that looks great.

5. To Thicken Meatballs Instead of Breadcrumbs

I married an Italian, so meatballs get made pretty often around here. His grandmother’s recipe calls for breadcrumbs, which I don’t use, so I just throw in a couple tablespoons of ground chia seeds (per pound of meat) in place of bread crumbs. Also works to thicken meat-loafs, batters, etc.

6. Sprouted for Salads

Ever had little sprouts on a salad at a restaurant? You can make them yourself. Just put some chia seeds in water, drain the water off and leave in a jar for a couple days. Every 12 hours or so, rinse with water and pour the water off. In a day or two, you’ll have little chia sprouts, which leads to the next use of chia seeds:

7. Homemade Chia Pet

These are the same seeds used to make the chia pets you can buy for ($20) in the store. Save about ($20) and make your own. Just fill a (porcupine) shaped pot with dirt, sprinkle some chia seeds on top of the dirt and water. Viola! Chia Pet. I also discovered when my kids spilled their chia seeds that they were eating for a snack that they grow in areas that don’t get much sun and that are often trampled (under the treehouse) and prevent mud. Now, the kids get to eat chia seeds under their treehouse often, and the ones that spill prevent mud. A win-win!

8. To Make Homemade Energy Gel

Seen the commercial for those new (corn syrup filled) Gatorade Gels and Chews? Here’s a healthier variation that kids will love: Add a couple tablespoons of chia seeds to a cup of coconut water. Let sit for about ten minutes and you’ll have an incredible energy gel! Beats the socks off of Gatorade for hydration and energy and you get to avoid the fake colors, fake flavors and GMO corn 🙂 Also works for grown ups for endurance activities like running a 5K without training at all (ask me how I know that….)

9. As a “Breading” for Baking Fish and Chicken

Mixed with some almond flour and garlic powder, or even by itself, Chia Seeds make an excellent “Breading” for fish or chicken. It toasts up well and provides a nutty, crunchy flavor without the grains (another win-win!).

10. Kid-Friendly Chia Seed Squeeze Pouches

The flavor combinations are endless, and the recipe requires only a few ingredients. Chia seed squeeze pouches are one of my kids’ favorite snacks, and with these reusable pouches, your kiddos can enjoy them too.

11. Chia Seed Energy Bars

This is my favorite way to use chia seeds so far! These energy bars are a great snack or treat for kids or a healthy breakfast addition if you need extra energy. They are also nut, dairy, and grain free so they are safe to send to schools even if there are allergy restrictions.

12. Coconut Chia Porridge

When you crave a warm, nourishing breakfast, this coconut chia porridge will satisfy. It’s grain-free and features a delicious flavor combo of figs, pistachios and vanilla beans. My kids love it, and I love that it nourishes them, plus meets my need for avoiding eggs as breakfast.

13. Awesome Egg Substitute

Since finding out I’m allergic to eggs, I’ve tried lots of variations for replacing them in my favorite recipes. Chia seeds make an awesome egg substitute. Read about how to use chia seeds, plus seven other egg replacement options here.

14. Chocolate Coconut Energy Bars

I love the convenience of energy bars, and my kids requested a chocolate-flavored one, so I created these chocolate coconut energy bars, with optional chia seeds (which I recommend you add!). Enjoy all the taste and convenience, minus the junkie ingredients typically found in store-bought energy bars.

15. Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

If you avoid store-bought jams and jellies loaded with sugar and lots of other unmentionable ingredients (I was recently surprised to see red dye in a strawberry jam- c’mon, strawberries are already red!), you’ll love this strawberry chia seed jam from Mommypotamus.

16. Blueberry Chia Seed Smoothie

For a fast meal or snack that doesn’t require many ingredients or, ahem, actual cooking, but still offers tons of nutrition, this blueberry chia seed smoothie from The Family That Heals Together will keep both mama and kiddos happy, for more reasons than one.

17. Chocolate Chia Mousse

What’s better than having dessert and knowing it’s good for you? Don’t compromise your food standards for a treat; this chocolate chia mousse from Healy Eats Real will satisfy your sweet tooth (just look at that perfect mousse texture!) while healthy ingredients like chia seeds and coconut milk will satiate you with good fats and protein.

18. Paleo Sticky “Rice” Balls

These fun snacks from A Girl Worth Saving use chia seeds in place of rice for a healthy, low carb version of this Chinese treat.

19. Chia Seed Breakfast Cereal

If you’re on the grain-free bandwagon, cereal is likely a thing of the past. But you can make a grain free cereal by soaking the chia seeds overnight in milk (or a milk substitute like almond or macadamia milk) and top with your choice of seeds, chopped nuts, fresh fruit, or spices like cinnamon. You can also use slices of banana or vanilla extract to make a delicious breakfast.

20. Strawberry Matcha Chia Pudding

Matcha is all the rage these days, thanks to its super healing and energizing green tea origins. This fun take on chia pudding with strawberries and matcha tea from Paleo Magazine looks amazing.

21. Spinach Salad with Creamy Chia Vinaigrette

A beautiful salad is nutritious on its own. Pair it with a chia seed-based dressing, and you’ve got a winner! Check out this spinach salad with creamy chia vinaigrette from Get Inspired Everyday.

22. Chia Seed Kombucha Energy Drink

While it may sound fancy, this energy drink contains just a couple of ingredients so it’s easy to throw it together and sip throughout a busy day. If you make your own kombucha this drink tastes delicious after it’s been through a second ferment to add more flavor.

23. Multi-Seed Crackers

Serve these crackers up with a slice of avocado or cheese for snack time. Get the recipe from Gourmande in the Kitchen here.

24. Low-Carb Chia Bread

This chia bread from Rosanna Davison Nutrition is grain-free and low carb, and looks like it would be fantastic for a sandwich or French toast!

25. “Peanut Butter” and Jelly Overnight Chia Pudding

More filling and way more nutritious than oatmeal, this “PB” and J overnight chia pudding from PaleOMG is perfect for breakfast or after a workout.

26. Chocolate Dipped Caramel Nut Bars

One more from PaleOMG, because I thought we should end with what looks to be basically a healthy candy bar. These chocolate dipped caramel nut bars look amazing and are super healthy to boot!

Where to Get Chia Seeds?

Thanks to their recent surge in popularity, you can find these chia seeds at many regular grocery stores and most health food stores as well. I often also buy them in bulk online (from here) and keep them on hand for recipes.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Tim Jackson. He is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Orthopedic Rehabilitation, and a Functional Medicine provider. He holds a B.S. Degree in Health Science and Chemistry from Wake Forest University. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Ever tried chia seeds? Sound too weird? What is your favorite use? Share below!

Chia seeds have many uses and benefits due to their high nutrient content, and are great as an egg substitute, for making chia seed pudding, and more!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


352 responses to “Benefits of Chia Seeds (and 27 Creative Ways to Use Them!)”

  1. Sarah Avatar

    What is the safe age to intoduce chia seeds to a child over one? My son is 13 months old, and I’ve been so careful about what I have given him and don’t want to introduce until a good age. I would love to make him the pudding. I’ve looked around online, but haven’t found a good answer.

  2. Yashvi Avatar

    Can chia seeds be the first thing i drink with water in the morning???

  3. Adelaine Avatar

    I wonder if there are any side effects when taking chia if you have diverticula.

  4. Jenae Hagel Avatar
    Jenae Hagel

    how would you go about breading shrimp woth chia seed? is powdered or soaked or which version is best?

  5. J.D. AVERY Avatar
    J.D. AVERY

    SUPER HEALTHY CHIA SEED BREAKFAST THAT WILL KEEP YOU GOING ALL MORNING.first slice some freash garlic and toast it in olive oil.remove garlic slices and save for topping.NOW TOAST CHIA SEED IN SAME OIL THEN REMOVE AND SAVE FOR TOPPING(I use about a heaping tbs of chia. now add more oil if needed.bring up to heat,not burning.add sliced tomatoes to hot oil -I like Romas for this.cook just a quick minute remove,put tomatoes over a healthy rye bread or your choice.add avocado slices.NOW TAKE THE TOASTED CHIA AND PUT ON TOP WITH BLACK PEPPER .IN SAME PAN THROW IN SOME KALE AND BABY SPINACH REAL QUICK NOT TO OVER WILT_A LITTLE CHEESE OF YOUR JOICE AND YOUR DONE > IF YOU REQUIRE MORE PROTEIN EITHER ADD ONE BOILED EGG SLICES OR ADD MORE CHIA SEASON TO YOUR LIKING>THIS IS ALL HEALTHY STUFF BUT IT’S THE CHIA THAT KEEPS YOU GOING WITHOUT FEELING HUNGRY.personal note:i have a lot of health issues and it was’nt until i through most of the poison the doctors call medicine away and started eating chia and other seeds with just about every meal did i start feeling better. CHIA SEED IS A GOD SEND>I’m not advocating that anyone stop taking there medication .that could be extremely dangerous .be careful be safe and be healthy.

  6. J.D. avery Avatar
    J.D. avery

    Chia seeds do keep me awake if i eat them in late afternoon or evening.i love them and sometimes forget not to add the to my dinner.they are great in the morning for energy and mid morning boost.Here is my recipe for an early morning energy drink that tastes just like a NUTTY CHOCOLATE CHEESE CAKE.10 ounces whole buttermilk add flax seed ,chia seed,hemp seed 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 to 2 tbs chocolate syrup.mix will be amazed at both the taste and the energy boost you get.P.S. I spice mine up with a little cayenne pepper. if your not used to cayenne it may give you a tummy ache .

    1. J.D. Avery Avatar
      J.D. Avery

      J.D.Avery again,I love seeds and really appreciate the health benefits I’ve just recently discovered ,plus the history of the chia seed is interesting .but,I ,myself can get burned out on eating i try to invent little treats to go along with my healthy eating.along with your chia and or other healthy seeds ,try thin apple slices with a little Himalayan pink salt, a little cayenne pepper and then heavy on the ground cinnamon.TASTE JUST LIKE A CANDY APPLE.keep your chia health kick fun .GOOD HEALTH TO YOU.

  7. Tiffany Avatar

    I love this article! I will keep it to reference. My favorite way to use chia seeds is in kale salad. I chop up my kale, add some lemon and olive oil + salt and pepper, toss, and sprinkle in chia seeds! DELICIOUS!

  8. Karyn Davis Avatar
    Karyn Davis

    I shared some of my seeds with my mother and, after reading about a few bad side-effects, I had second thoughts
    and advised her not to consume any more until she heard back from me.
    My concern is that last year she had two surgeries at one time (stomach area) and is still feeling the effects of that.
    She’s always had severe digestive problems and presently has a large hernia that must come out. also a tumor on her lung.
    And……she is 90 years old.
    If there’s a chance in a million that the seeds would harm her in any way, I must know about it.
    Please write and let me know if you know anything. Please, no opinions. Just the facts.
    Thanks so much.

    1. J.D.AVERY Avatar

      they swell in your stomach and also can dehydrate you.try grinding and soaking a while before ingesting. P.S. YOUR MOTHER OR YOU ON HER BEHALF SHOULD CONSULT HER DOCTOR FIRST >IF YOU ARE UNSURE NEVER TAKE A CHANCE ON INJURY >REMEMBER THE FIRST RULE IS DO NO HARM>

  9. Chris Martin Avatar
    Chris Martin

    I love this article. And one more thing I want to know I heard that chia seeds are dangerous blocking the intense wall, Is it true??

  10. Ganesh Avatar

    Want to add something in your kid diet; muffins will help you for that add healthy items in muffins will reach their health.

  11. emily PERDIOS Avatar
    emily PERDIOS


    1. Sandra Avatar

      I’ve been consuming chia gel everyday for as long as I can remember. 1 tbsp every morning, like you. So far it has not caused flatulence or dizziness so I doubt it will. Of course, everything in moderation.

  12. Kim Eisen Avatar

    My favorite uses of Chia Seeds
    1) In water – it makes the water taste like the freshest, cleanest water I have ever tasted. It’s amazing!
    2) Make a berry freezer/frig jam (Blueberries or strawberries or ???) with no sugar or pectin
    2 Cups berries (of choice)
    1/4 cup Honey or Agave Nectar (or substitute 4 to 5 packets to taste of Stevia to make sugar free)
    1 Vanilla bean caviar – or 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
    2 Tbls. Chia seeds

    Put berries, honey and vanilla bean caviar in pan and simmer on medium heat until soften (or bursting) for apx. 5 minutes (stir often). When soft enough, mash or use immersion blender to mix to consistency you want for the berries. Add Chia Seeds and cook on low for another 10 minutes until thickness of jam. Let cool. Scoop into small canning jar or plastic container.

    Best think is you can adjust after cooking if you want it more sweeter or add more chia seeds if you want it thicker. Many recipes I saw said to add Maple Syrup, but I feel it just overtakes the taste of the berry and doesn’t taste natural.

  13. Vivian Avatar

    I’ve read some of the earlier comments about chis seeds being bad for you. Unfortunately , often, the nay sayers on these sites are actually paid by big pharma to make these negative comments. Just sayin.

  14. Sue Avatar

    As Chia seeds are relatively expensive I am hesitant to use them in cooking bc I worry that they might lose lots of their nutritional benefits when heated. Do you know how much of their potential they lose when used in cooking/baking? Thanks.

  15. Ester Avatar

    Is it okay to consume chia seeds when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding? Is it okay to have kombucha with chia seeds when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I do (kombucha in limited amounts) because I had already been eating/drinking them before pregnancy. Always good to check with your midwife/OB first.

  16. Susanne Avatar

    I love Chia seeds and an eating 1 Tbsp Every Day in My smoothie. Is it bad to eat them Day?
    Best wishes Susanne

  17. Courtney Avatar

    Sorry if someone already mentioned it as there are a ton of comments and I don’t have time to go through them all!!

    As far as using chia as an egg substitute, what kind of food does it work best with?

  18. Sylvia Avatar

    I am a home-made bread maker and I’m surprised that there hasn’t been any mention of using Chia seeds – I add them to most of my breads either in the mixes or I brush the bread or rolls with melted butter then sprinkle Chia seeds on top.

  19. Gerry Thompson Avatar
    Gerry Thompson

    I read a post concerning a man who suffered a blockage in the small intestines due to eating chia seeds without sufficient water.

    Would you please advise if this is a problem and if you soak chia seeds will this overcome that problem. Also how much soaked chia should one take?

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