Chia Seeds: What Is The Hype About?   

Wooden spoon scooping chia seeds out of a bowl with chia

By: Aylin Lopez, CSUN Dietetic Intern Cohort 2022-2023 

From puddings to crackers to jams, chia seeds are a versatile food that can be used in a variety of different ways due to their mild, nutty flavor. In case you’re unfamiliar with chia, they are gritty and crunchy seeds that taste like poppy seeds and form a gel consistency when soaked in liquid. Chia, also known as Salvia hispanica L., is an herbaceous plant and a species from the Lamiaceae family, which is native to northern Guatemala and southern Mexico.1 Chia can be found in the form of whole seeds, powder, mucilage, and oil. Chia seeds are widely recognized for their excellent nutrient composition and health benefits. While most individuals can benefit from the consumption of chia seeds, they are specifically recommended by nutrition experts to those with constipation and high cholesterol.  

The high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid make chia seeds an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids.2 Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats, which are essential nutrients we must obtain in our diet since our bodies cannot produce the required amounts. The three main types of omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is the form of omega-3 found in plants, like in chia seeds. ALA omega-3 fatty acids can be used as a functional component to aid in reducing autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD).3 Furthermore, consuming omega-3s regularly has been shown to improve high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.3 There are various types of cholesterol found in our blood, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL cholesterol makes up most of our body’s cholesterol and at high values, can increase the chances of CVD. HDL cholesterol contains an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant protein that helps remove cholesterol from the arterial wall to the liver for excretion.4 A study by Khalid et al (2022), examined the nutritional and functional composition of chia seeds. The research found that chia improves HDL cholesterol by preventing the build-up of LDL cholesterol in the arteries.3 Thus, consuming chia seeds can help decrease LDL values and prevent coronary heart disease. 

The chia seed is also a great source of dietary fiber, protein, and polyphenol antioxidants.2 Dietary fiber has been shown to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, and several types of cancers.5 Chia seeds are approximately 85% insoluble fiber and 15% soluble fiber.6 A sufficient amount of insoluble fiber is important to our health because it helps speed the transit time of food and adds bulk to our stool. Therefore, individuals with constipation would benefit from incorporating chia into their diet since a bulky stool is softer and easier to pass. In addition, consuming adequate dietary fiber is associated with increased post-meal satiety and decreased subsequent hunger.6 Overall, dietary fiber found in chia seeds can keep our gastrointestinal tract healthy, promote a healthy weight, and prevent many metabolic diseases.  

You may have noticed that chia seeds aren’t usually eaten alone. The direct consumption of chia seeds has been shown to delay the bioactive compound release of the matrix and absorb water from the body. 7 In other words, consuming chia seeds dry can decrease the absorption of nutrients and cause dehydration. Thus, it is not recommended by nutrition experts to eat chia seeds dry. Consumption alternatives such as soaking, sprouting, or fermentation are recommended to increase the digestibility of the seeds. A 2019 study from the Journal of Cogent Food and Agriculture investigated the bioaccessibility of phenolic compounds and omega-3s found in different forms of chia. The research found omega-3s and phenolic compounds were better absorbed by milling the seeds into a powder.8 Chia powder has recently gained much popularity and truly allows for creativity in recipe development.  

Check out the following recipes from the MMC website that use chia seeds in different ways! 


Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding9

Servings: 2


  • 2 containers of Siggi’s Vanilla Skye yogurt (or preferred yogurt/flavor)
  • 6 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or preferred flavor)
  • 2 medium, ripe peaches, diced
  • 2 tbsp. sliced almonds


  1. Combine 1 container of yogurt, 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, and 1 cup of almond milk in a small jar or glass 
  2. Repeat step one with the remaining container of yogurt, 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, and 1 cup of almond milk into a separate small jar or glass 
  3. Cover each jar with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight (or up to 24 hours) 
  4. Right before serving, remove from the fridge, remove the plastic wrap, and top with diced fruit and nuts of choice 

Mixed Berry Oatmeal Smoothie10

Servings: 2 


  • ½ Cup of old-fashioned rolled oats ground to a fine powder 
  • 1 Tbsp of chia seeds soaked in 2 or 3 tbsp of water for 10 minutes 
  • 1 Cup of mixed berries fresh or frozen 
  • 1 Cup of almond milk 
  • 1 tbsp of MMC honey 
  • 3 tbsp of Greek yogurt 
  • Handful of ice 


  1. Blend everything in a blender till smooth. 
  2. Add a little more milk if needed. 
  3. Adjust for sweetness with honey/syrup. 
  4. Garnish with additional berries and serve. 

Looking for other ideas on how to incorporate chia seeds into your meals? Check out the MMC’s Peanut Butter Energy Bites on the MMC’s YouTube Channel! 


  1. Capitani MI, Spotorno V, Nolasco SM, Tomás MC. Physicochemical and functional characterization of by-products from chia (salvia hispanica L.) seeds of Argentina. LWT -Food Science and Technology. 2012;45(1):94-102. doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2011.07.012  
  1. Ullah R, Nadeem M, Khalique A, et al. Nutritional and therapeutic perspectives of chia (salvia hispanica L.): A Review. Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2015;53(4):1750-1758. doi:10.1007/s13197-015-1967-0  
  1. Khalid W, Arshad MS, Aziz A, et al. Chia seeds ( salvia hispanica L.): A therapeutic weapon in metabolic disorders. Food Science & Nutrition. 2022;11(1):3-16. doi:10.1002/fsn3.3035 
  1. Raymond, J. L., Morrow, K., & Krause, M. V. Krause and Mahan’s Food & the Nutrition Care Process. Elsevier. 2021. 
  1. Muñoz LA, Cobos A, Diaz O, Aguilera JM. Chia seed (salvia hispanica): An ancient grain and a new functional food. Food Reviews International. 2013;29(4):394-408. doi:10.1080/87559129.2013.818014  
  1. Kulczyński B, Kobus-Cisowska J, Taczanowski M, Kmiecik D, Gramza-Michałowska A. The Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds-Current State of Knowledge. Nutrients. 2019;11(6):1242. Published 2019 May 31. doi:10.3390/nu11061242 
  1. Calvo-Lerma J, Paz-Yépez C, Asensio-Grau A, Heredia A, Andrés A. Impact of processing and intestinal conditions on in vitro digestion of chia (salvia hispanica) seeds and derivatives. Foods. 2020;9(3):290. doi:10.3390/foods9030290  
  1. Labanca RA, Svelander C, Alminger M. Effect of particle size of chia seeds on bioaccessibility of phenolic compounds during in vitro digestion. Cogent Food & Agriculture. 2019;5(1):1694775. doi:10.1080/23311932.2019.1694775  
  1. Caitlyn. Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding. Cait’s Plate. Published July 25, 2014. Accessed February 18, 2023.  
  1. Amy. Mixed Berry Oatmeal Smoothie with Chia Seeds. DIY Candy handmade and recipes. Published August 11, 2022. Accessed February 18, 2023.  

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