Last updated: August 13, 2021

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Are you opting for a high-fibre diet and would like to include other foods with a high fibre content in your diet besides kidney beans and lentils? Then you should definitely include chia seeds in your daily routine. They have an even higher fibre content than kidney beans and lentils. What are the effects of chia seeds and why are they so healthy? For whom are chia seeds suitable and in what quantity? Answers to the most frequently asked questions can be found here in the Chia Seed Test 2022. We introduce you to the highest quality chia seed products and want to help you lead a healthier lifestyle. In addition, you will find helpful tips and tricks in our guide on which ailments can be alleviated by consuming chia seeds and also show you how to best process them. Whether you choose white or black seeds, we'll tell you about the advantages and disadvantages of each type.




Summary

  • Chia seeds contain healthy and important nutrients, such as omega 3, various vitamins and minerals. The seeds are a real fibre booster. With 34 g / 100 g, they outperform other high-fibre foods such as kidney beans or lentils.
  • Chia seeds have a variety of uses. Whether you sprinkle them on smoothies and soups, use them in cakes and breads, or mix them into yoghurt and mueslis. Sweet or savoury, chia seeds are true all-rounders.
  • Complaints such as joint pain, irritable bowel syndrome or heartburn can be counteracted with chia seeds. They can also support weight reduction or lower cholesterol levels.

The best Chia seeds: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying chia seeds

What are Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds are obtained from the chia plant (Salvia hispanica), which belongs to the mint family. The plant is a sage plant that originated in Mexico and was used by the Maya and Aztecs several thousand years ago. The plant produces very small, about 1.5 mm long and 1 mm wide, smooth, shiny, oval seeds that can be brown, grey, black or white. The white seeds are only produced by the white-flowered chia plant. Chia seeds, like linseed, blue poppy, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, are oil seeds. Due to their extremely good swelling capacity - they can absorb up to 12 times their own weight in water - they have a very satiating effect. They also contain valuable ingredients such as omega-3, various vitamins and minerals.

Samen auf Holzlöffel

Chia seeds are oil seeds, just like sunflower seeds or linseed. (Photo: ulleo / pixabay.com)

What are chia seeds used for and how can they be processed?

Since chia seeds have no real flavour of their own, they can be used in many ways. Whether sweet or savoury dishes, when prepared correctly the seeds taste good with almost everything. The superfood therefore offers many different application possibilities. You can either let them swell, grind them or roast them. The special thing about chia seeds is their enormous swelling properties. This is how the best-known recipe came about: chia gel or chia pudding. Simply add water or milk to the chia seeds and let them soak in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. The result is a jelly-like mass that you can then mix into your muesli or smoothie, for example, or simply eat with fruit. The chia gel keeps you full for a long time and can be stored in the fridge for 1-3 weeks.

The rule of thumb is a mixing ratio of 1:6, e.g. half a cup of chia seeds to three cups of water.

Basically, chia seeds do not need to be crushed or ground, as your body can digest them whole with enough liquid. If you want to use ground chia seeds, it is best to grind them just before consumption, otherwise the many healthy nutrients will quickly evaporate. You can grind your chia seeds easily with a blender or coffee grinder. Along with amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa, chia seeds also belong to the group of pseudo-cereals. They are rich in starch, protein, fats and minerals and can be used like most grains.

Chia seeds have no baking properties of their own, i.e. they cannot be used in pure form to make bread and cakes, but must be mixed with wheat, spelt or rye.

If you want to include chia seeds in your next baking session, you can do so with whole grains or with ground ones. Just make sure you don't add too much of the seeds so you don't exceed the recommended daily intake. Just add 1 - 2 spoonfuls of the miracle seeds and voilá - your baked goods are loaded with nutrients. You should not cook your chia seeds, as they, like other foods, lose a large part of the important vital substances. What you can do, however, is roast the miracle seeds. Roasted chia seeds are a great topping for salads or soups. Simply put the seeds in a coated pan without oil for about three minutes. Let them cool down and they are ready to eat.

Brot und Gebäck

Chia seeds can be used in baking, for example. Either ground to replace part of the flour or mixed into the dough as whole grains. (Photo: Kaboompics.com / pexels.com)

What nutrients do chia seeds contain?

Chia seeds are said to have incredible health benefits thanks to the nutrients they contain. The miracle seeds have five times as much calcium as milk and three times as much iron as spinach. They contain lots of valuable fats and are rich in antioxidants. Above all, their high fibre content makes the grains unique. With 34 g of fibre per 100 grams of chia seeds, even fibre boosters like kidney beans (21 g / 100 g) or lentils (16.9 g / 100 g) put them in the shade. On 100 grams, chia seeds also contain the following:

nutritional value per 100 g
energy 486 kcal
fat 31 g
carbohydrates 42 g
protein 17 g
fibre 34 g
Mineral per 100 g
Sodium (Na) 16 mg
Potassium (K) 407 mg
Calcium (Ca) 631 mg
Magnesium (Mg) 335 mg
Phosphorus (P) 860 mg
Iron (Fe) 7.7 mg
Zinc (Zn) 4.6 mg
Vitamin per 100 g
Vitamin C 1.6 mg
Thiamine 0.62 mg
Riboflavin 0.17 mg
Niacin 8.83 mg
Vitamin B12 0 μg
Vitamin A 54 IU
Vitamin E 0.5 mg

Source of nutritional information: Bechthold, A.: Chiasamen. Ernährungs Umschau 3/2015, Dietetics & Practice, pp. 9-12

What effect do chia seeds have?

Chia seeds have a strengthening effect on your entire body. Not only do they boost the performance of your brain and provide you with long-lasting energy, but they also have a detoxifying effect, support digestion, make you feel full, strengthen the heart and protect against skin ageing. A true superfood. The miracle seeds contain - as already described - many nutrients and properties that have a positive influence on the musculoskeletal system, the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, the brain and the energy metabolism. Due to their high nutrient density, chia seeds can help your body to build up healthy tissue and thus support wound healing, and the power seeds can also counteract some diseases and complaints.

What ailments can chia seeds counteract?

Chia seeds were already used as a miracle cure in the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures. Even today, they are recommended by naturopathic therapists for the following health problems.

Gelenkschmerzen
As chia seeds are very rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, they have an anti-inflammatory effect. This can lead to pain relief when taken long-term.
Diabetes
Blood sugar levels are regulated by the fibre in the seeds. The glycaemic index of the chia seeds themselves is also naturally very low. The effect of the superfood is so good that, in combination with cactus leaves and soy protein, corresponding naturopathic medicines have been developed from it
Gewichtsreduktion
Because chia seeds have such a strong swelling behaviour, an increased feeling of satiety occurs after consumption, which can ensure that you eat less.
Reizdarmsyndrom
Similar to psyllium, chia seeds in chia pudding can soothe an irritated gut, help heal the intestinal lining and help build healthy gut flora.
Senkung des Cholesterinspiegels
Both dietary fibre and omega-3 fatty acids are known to lower cholesterol levels. Since chia seeds contain both substances in high quantities, they are ideally suited for this purpose.
Sodbrennen
Dietary fibre, which the seeds contain in abundance, also helps against heartburn. When chia gel is consumed, excess acids are absorbed and the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines are soothed.

Who are Chia seeds suitable for and who are they not suitable for?

Chia seeds are basically suitable for everyone if you like the taste. Chia seeds can be especially helpful for the points mentioned above. Even if you like to try something new - which is no problem with chia seeds because they are so versatile - you should definitely try the miracle seeds. In research, chia seeds are tested for possible allergens. For some people, excessive consumption can lead to watery eyes, rashes on the skin or even hives. Caution is advised if you already have several other allergies. Side effects such as vomiting, diarrhoea, flatulence, digestive problems, breathing problems or tongue swelling are rare but possible if the consumer is already allergic to many other substances. However, if you take the chia seeds in normal doses and do not exceed the recommended daily intake, no side effects should occur. Chia seeds may have a blood-thinning effect. Therefore, you should not eat them if you have a blood clotting disorder or are taking blood-thinning medication. It is best to check with your doctor whether you can eat chia seeds or not. It is also advisable to avoid the superfood before an operation. Chia seeds can also lower blood pressure. So if you have a tendency to low blood pressure, you should be careful with the seeds.

Süßspeise mit Fruchtstücken

With the right dosage, you should not have any problems with side effects. (Photo: naturalpastels / pixabay.com)

How much Chia seeds can I eat per day?

In order to take full advantage of the health-promoting effects of the superfood, you should think about the right dosage. Chia seeds are so packed with nutrients and vital substances that a small amount per day is sufficient.

With chia seeds, the motto is NOT: the greater the quantity, the greater the effect. If you consume too much, you risk side effects.

If you consume too much of the miracle seeds, side effects can occur and the positive effects will be lost and not even noticed by your body. The recommended amount of Chia seeds per day in Germany is currently 15 grams. That is about two tablespoons full. With these 15 grams you can already supplement a good amount of minerals, trace elements and vitamins.

What is the shelf life of Chia seeds?

In contrast to flax seeds, chia seeds have a much longer shelf life and are therefore suitable as a food to keep in stock. Exactly how long depends on how they are stored. If you store the seeds in an airtight and resealable container (e.g. jam jar or preserving jar), the seeds will keep for up to 4 years. If you leave them in the open plastic packaging, the chia seeds will last about 2 years. The reason for this is the lack of protection from dirt and moisture. Moisture is the seeds' biggest enemy when it comes to storage. Ideally, you should store the chia seeds in a dry, dark place at room temperature. For example, in the same place where you store tins or baking accessories. Even after longer storage, the superfood does not change its nutritional content, taste or smell. So don't be afraid to buy large value packs.

How much does a packet of chia seeds cost?

Prices can vary depending on the brand. However, a particularly low price should make you wonder. After all, quality has its price here too. For 500 grams of chia seeds, you can expect a price between 10 and 20 euros. Although the prices seem high at first glance, chia seeds are actually not expensive at all. Since the superfood increases in volume when water is added, you only need a small amount of seeds at a time. A 500-gram packet will therefore last for quite a while, and in the long run the price is also cheaper than you might think at first.

Schraubgläser mit Gewürzen

It's best to put your chia seeds in an airtight and resealable container. Jam or preserving jars are great for this. (Photo: monicore / pexels.com)

Decision: What types of chia seeds are there and which one is right for me?

Basically, you can distinguish between two types of chia seeds:

  • Black Chia Seeds
  • White Chia Seeds

As the names already reveal, the difference lies mainly in the colour of the chia seeds. The nutritional and vital substance content is identical for both types. The trade offers black and white chia seeds. The "black" variety is usually found on the shelves, as the "white" variety is a special breed. However, the miracle seeds are neither jet black nor bright white, rather the colours range from white, beige and light grey to dark grey, brown and black.

What distinguishes black chia seeds and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Black chia seeds are characterised by the dark colour of the grains. A packet of black Chia seeds may also contain a few white seeds. This is because the scattered seeds also consist of mixed seeds and the chia plant thus always bears some white flowers.

Advantages
  • Higher protein content
  • Are offered everywhere you can buy chia seeds
Disadvantages
  • Don't look so appealing with some dishes

The black chia seeds are slightly smaller than the white ones. You have to decide for yourself whether this is an advantage or a disadvantage. In addition, the colour means that the protein content of the dark seeds is somewhat higher. The black variety is also much more common and can therefore be purchased in any shop where chia seeds are offered. The only disadvantage: the black seeds do not look so visually appealing with some dishes. But this is also a matter of opinion and does not change the many nutritional values they contain.

What distinguishes white Chia seeds and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

White Chia seeds are characterised by the light colour of the grains. They are not picked from a harvest of black seeds. That would of course be far too inconvenient. One simply started sowing only white seeds. After a few generations of plants, one has then managed that the plants only bear white seeds.

Advantages
  • Higher content of alpha-linolenic acid
  • look more beautiful
Disadvantages
  • Usually only found in special health food and organic shops

The white seeds are somewhat larger than the black seeds. However, this does not change their quality. The only difference is the slightly higher content of alpha-linolenic acid in the light-coloured seeds. Because of their appearance, the white seeds are preferred with some dishes. They look more appealing on salads or dark vegetable soups. However, on many dishes, black and white seeds mixed or only black seeds look very aesthetic. If you don't have a health food or organic food shop nearby, you are faced with the only disadvantage of the light-coloured grains. White chia seeds are not as common as the black ones and are therefore usually not offered in ordinary supermarkets or discounters.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate chia seeds

Before you buy or order chia seeds, you should look at some factors that you can use to compare and evaluate the superfood. In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Type of Chia Seeds
  • Organic label
  • Fairtrade seal
  • Pack size

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Type of Chia Seeds

As already described, there are both black and white Chia seeds. You have to decide for yourself which type you prefer. Since there are actually no differences in the nutritional and vital substance content, the type of Chia seed is a question of aesthetics or, in some cases, availability.

Whole Seeds Seed Powder Capsules Oil
Price Affordable Somewhat Expensive Expensive Affordable
Taste Tasteless Somewhat Bitter Neutral Soft
Uses The whole Chia seed needs to be hydrated with water or other liquids to get all its benefits Mix with water or flour for baking The Chia capsules are drunk with a sip of water It can be served with a tablespoon. Alternatively, the Chia oil is suitable for salad dressings or yoghurts.
Daily dose 15-20 g 5-20 g 1 to 3 capsules 1 tablespoon
Protein (per serving) 4.58 g 7.2 g 0 g 0 g
Dietaryfibre (per serving) 6.6 g 4.9 g 0 g 0 g
Omega 3 and Omega 6 (per serving ) 4.98 g 1.08 g 500 to 800 mg, depending on dose 8 g

Organic seal of approval

The quality of Chia seeds can be strongly influenced by a number of factors. Often environmental toxins and pesticides are used in the cultivation process, which you would then also ingest when eating them. In the worst case, the superfood can turn into a secret pathogen. To prevent this, you should always look for the organic seal of quality. This guarantees the toxin-free cultivation of the seeds themselves and also of the plants in the surrounding area, as pesticides can be transferred by wind, for example. This purchase criterion seems easy to observe, but caution applies. Not all organic labels are the same. Unfortunately, some suppliers have realised that they can make money with an organic seal and people are willing to pay a little more for organic quality. Therefore, there are self-made seals, but they have no meaning whatsoever. Organic quality can be defined differently depending on the country and products sometimes have to meet different regulations. It is best to first check which organic logos are recognised and certified in your country.

Samen Großaufnajme

The "black" variety of chia seeds is offered much more often than the "white" variety. (Photo: ivabalk / pixabay.com)

Fairtrade seal

If you value fair trade and fair payment, you should also look for the presence of the Fairtrade seal. Fair trade is the term used to describe controlled trade in which producers are usually paid a "minimum price" for the traded products or product components, which is determined differently by the individual fair trade organisations. In addition, international environmental and social standards prescribed by the organisations are to be observed in production.

Packaging size

Another important point is the size of the packaging and the quantity you buy. As with all products, the more you buy, the lower the price. So if you buy a 500 gram or 1000 gram pack instead of a small 100 gram pack, you can save a lot of money. Since the chia seeds can be stored for several years without hesitation and do not lose any of their nutrients and vital substances or change their taste and smell, you can go for the larger pack. Just make sure that you store the seeds properly so that they really do keep for a long time.

Interesting facts about Chia seeds

Where do Chia seeds originally come from?

The small seeds come from Mexico, Central and South America. The chia plant (Salvia Hispanica) belongs to the mint family and was already known in the times of the Maya and Aztecs. Even in the times of this culture, the protein-rich, gluten-free seeds were considered a staple food and, thanks to their invigorating effect, served as an energy-giving companion for runners in particular. Translated, the name Chia, which comes from the Mayan language, therefore means "strength". According to Mexican folk medicine, a single teaspoon of chia seeds is enough to supply a person with sufficient nutrients for a full 24 hours. Even today, chia seeds are considered a superfood with many positive effects on the body.

How long have Chia seeds been around and what are they made from?

For over 4000 years, chia seeds were one of the most important staple foods of the Mayas, Aztecs and others in South and Central America. The seeds are extracted from the so-called Chia plant, which bears the botanical name "Salvia hispanica".

The plant was given the misleading name Salvia hispanica in the course of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire in the 16th century.

For many years, the seed, which is now considered a superfood again, remained without significance for humans themselves, but it was certainly appreciated as animal feed. For some years now, the miracle seeds have been celebrating a comeback as an almost perfect food supplement. The European Food Safety Authority has been looking into the use of Chia seeds since 2009 and in 2013 finally paved the way for the Chia plant to enter the EU as a "novel food". The Chia plant belongs to the Lamiaceae family and the sage plant genus. This family comprises 230 genera and more than 7000 species. The botanical name hispanica, which means "Spanish", was given to the chia in the 16th century. The Maya and Aztecs called chia "chian", from which the Spanish word "chia" was derived, which translated means "strong". However, the name "chia" is not only used for this species, but also for others that yield similar seeds. An example is the Californian Chia (Salvia columbariae) as well as Salvia polystachya and Sangura (Hyptis suaveolens). The chia plant is an annual and herbaceous plant. It can reach a height of up to two metres. The opposite, oval, pointed and light green leaves are 4 to 8 cm long and 3 to 5 cm wide. They are slightly hairy on the underside.

What other Chia products are there?

Besides the well-known Chia seeds, there are other products that can be obtained from this superfood.

Chia-Kleie
Chia bran is made from the seed shells. The bran contains an extraordinary amount of dietary fibre and protein. The fibre content is about 55%, the protein content about 26%. In addition, the dietary fibres of Chia bran have an ideal ratio between soluble and insoluble parts (about 20 : 80). This makes them ideal for healthy digestion. Like the seeds, the bran offers many application possibilities. For example, it can simply be sprinkled on the morning muesli, but also on desserts or fruit salads, stirred into smoothies or used in baking.
Chia-Mehl
If you like to bake biscuits, cupcakes or cakes, or have a preference for pastries such as pancakes, it might be worthwhile for you to buy or make your own chia flour. Ground chia seeds offer a good alternative to conventional flour. However, chia flour should always be mixed with wheat, rye or other flour as it has no baking properties of its own. If you make the flour yourself, you should always grind the seeds just before using them, as they do not keep as long when ground. Caution is advised when trying to thicken with chia flour. Due to its high absorbency, it binds a lot of water and thickens considerably. This can make the result firmer than desired.
Chia-Öl
Chia oil is made from cold-pressed seeds. Due to the high proportion of omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds, the oil pressed from them is also rich in them. The oil is well suited for salads, in smoothies or for baking. However, it should not be heated and is therefore unsuitable for frying. The taste can be described as mild or relatively neutral, for sensitive noses only a slightly nutty scent is noticeable. The liquid is clear and colourless. After opening, the oil should be stored in a cool place.

Picture credits: pixabay.com / ValeriaJa

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