Chia seeds have undergone an amazing transformation over the last few decades.
If you’re over the age of 30, you probably remember using these seeds to grow plant animals in the form of Chia Pets.
But in the 2010s, chia cast aside its novelty roots and became the superfood of choice for plant-based dieters.
Kelly Slater, Chia Seeds, and Chia Co.
Surfing great Kelly Slater is a huge fan of chia seeds.
He teamed up with Australian-based The Chia Co. to spread the good word of this nutritional powerhouse and is said to consume his seeds with coconut water every morning.
If they’re good enough for the GOAT, they’re good enough for the rest of us!
Usually, endorsements don’t mean anything.
It’s just a payday for the athlete.
But in this case, Slater seems to genuinely believe in chia seeds and he’s chosen a product that really is amazing.
We can’t speak for The Chia Co. directly (although they certainly seem to source quality seeds) but chia seeds are some of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet.
Chia Seeds Nutrition
Not convinced that chia seeds are as powerful as Slater claims? Just take a look at what a single 1-ounce serving has to offer:
- 11 Grams of Fiber
- 4 Grams of Protein
- Packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- 30% RDA of Magnesium and Manganese
- 25% of Phosphorus
- 20% of Calcium
And that’s just scratching the surface, as this 137 calorie-serving of chia seeds also contains numerous B vitamins and minerals.
In addition, they are packed with antioxidants, and research suggests that a diet rich in antioxidants can greatly reduce your risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Benefits of Chia Seeds
There are several reasons why you should consider adding chia seeds to your diet:
High in Fiber
Americans don’t consume enough fiber.
In fact, research suggests that anywhere from 95 to 97% of the population doesn’t eat enough.
That might not sound like a big deal, but inadequate fiber consumption has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and a host of digestive issues.
Eating your fill will make a massive difference to your health in both the short-term and long-term.
Experts recommend up to 25 grams per day for women and 37 grams for men. To put that into perspective, let’s imagine that your day looks like this:
- Breakfast = Eggs and Bacon with White Toast
- Lunch = Big Mac Meal
- Snacks = Banana and Apple
- Dinner = Mac n’ Cheese
It’s a lot of food and should give you around 2,500 calories, as well as plenty of carbs and protein.
But the total fiber comes in at approximately 18g, which is half of what the average man needs.
If you remove the fruit from the equation, the fiber drops considerably.
Simply adding an ounce of chia seeds to your day will give you 11 grams of fiber.
If you follow this with a few pieces of fruit and some servings of vegetables, you’ll easily meet those goals.
Chia seeds are satiating.
They absorb water and significantly increase in size.
As a result, you will feel fuller for longer, making them a great breakfast food if you’re trying to lose weight and/or avoid junk food cravings.
High in Protein
At 4 grams per serving, the protein in chia seeds can help you to meet your daily requirements for this macronutrient.
It’s not a huge amount, but it all plays a role.
If you’re trying to increase your protein intake and focusing on high-protein foods, you may find that you’re neglecting your fiber and nutrient needs.
In such instances, chia seeds make the perfect addition to your diet.
Essential for Plant-Based Diets
If you’re consuming a vegan or vegetarian diet, you could be missing out on omega-3 fatty acids.
It’s a healthy fat that has been linked to a host of benefits for the body and the brain, but it’s most abundant in oily fish.
There are omega-3 supplements, but most are extracted from seafood sources.
Chia seeds are arguably the best way to get your daily fix of omega-3s on a plant-based diet.
You can get all of the benefits that it provides without resorting to eating oily fish.
They Are Easy to Add to Your Diet
It is very easy to add chia seeds to your diet.
You can scoop them into yogurt, add them to oatmeal, or sprinkle them on salads.
If you want a quick and easy option, simply add a spoonful to a smoothie or protein shake.
Alternatively, you can do what Kelly Slater does and eat them with coconut water for breakfast.
Why Are Chia Seeds Bad for You?
Firstly, let’s make it clear: chia seeds are not “bad for you”.
However, this is one of the most commonly searched terms and it’s something that a lot of users and prospective users are asking, so let’s address it.
Although chia seeds are healthy, there is a limit and there are a few potential issues.
That doesn’t mean they are “bad”, though, as the same could be said for salt, water, fat, and everything else that your body needs.
The issue with chia seeds is that they can become a choking hazard when they are eaten raw.
It’s especially a problem in young children or people with throat problems and a history of choking.
As noted above, these seeds can absorb up to 27x their weight in water, and if a lot of them are consumed and they become lodged in the throat/esophagus, it can be problematic.
Excessive consumption of chia seeds may also cause bloating and discomfort.
However, there should be no issues if they are consumed in moderation.
What Happens if You Eat Chia Seeds Every Day?
If you consume chia seeds every day, you should notice improvements in your health, especially your digestive health.
Your bowel habits will be more consistent and while you will initially feel more bloated, this will disappear in time.
Weight loss is also possible and your risk of heart disease, digestive issues, and even cancer could be reduced.
Summary: Chia Seeds and Kelly Slater
At the outset of this article, we mentioned Chia Pets.
As it happens, you can still buy Chia Pets and the company that sells them, Joseph Enterprises, also sells bulk chia seeds for human consumption.
Millions of these toys are sold every year and they are one of the biggest uses of chia seeds, but thanks to the recent increase in popularity—triggered by people like Kelly Slater, as well as countless nutritionists—the US chia seed market is expected to pass $2 billion in 2022.
The term “superfood” is massively overused and has no strict definition, but if any single foodstuff is worthy of that term, it’s chia seeds.