What the Heck Are Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds are all the rage among health food aficionados, but what the heck are they? Do they come from Chia Pets? And what can you do with them? We have the answers.

If your only exposure to chia seeds is spreading them onto a Chia Pet™, you’re not alone. The earliest export of chia seeds in the United States was for use in growing decorative houseplants, but these little seeds, originally from Central and South America, are also a rich source of nutrients, as a growing number of people in the U.S. are beginning to learn.

What Are Chia Seeds?

The little mottled seeds are from the Salvia hispanica plant, a flowering member of the mint family. The seeds themselves have long been a food staple in Mexico and along portions of the southwestern U.S. border.

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

These little miracle seeds can be eaten raw, but are generally consumed by adding them to recipes, such as smoothies, puddings, oatmeal, or muffins. Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health, supple joints, and good brain function, among other things. In addition, chia seeds are a good source of dietary fiber, protein, calcium, phosphorus, and manganese. When you add water to chia seeds, they form a gel-like substance. It’s quite miraculous! In fact, this enables chia to be used as a gelatin or egg substitute in certain recipes.

Just add water, and chia seeds become surrounded in a gel-like substance.

Here are a few recipes to help you get to know this healthy little treat:

Chia Seeds - Chia

Chia Wheat Pancakes

2 from 1 vote
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • Maple Syrup to top


  • Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat.
  • Beat together egg, milk, and oil.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder. and salt. Slowly stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Add honey and stir until combined. Stir in chia seeds.
  • Pour batter into the pan using a 1/4 cup scoop and cook until golden brown. Flip and cook until centers are completely done. Top with maple syrup.
Keyword chia seed protein pancakes, vegan chia seed pancakes
Smoothie - Chia Seeds

Chia Pudding

2 from 1 vote
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 2 cups vanilla almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey, or more to taste
  • fruits, nuts, or any other ingredients of your choice


  • Add ingredients to a food processor or blender and mix well.
  • Pour into serving dishes and place covered in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, or until set, mixing once midway through so the seeds don’t settle to the bottom.
  • Keep refrigerated. Pudding will last 3-4 days.
Keyword chia pudding chocolate, chocolate chia pudding

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Jaime McLeod

Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including MTV.com. She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.

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Jefflyn Woodley

2 stars
I got on a chia kick for a cpl years. I had read that the seeds were good and healthy for you. Unfortunately I developed diverticulitis, had to stop eating seeds. Now Dr’s are saying that seeds do not make diverticulitis flare up. I never had it before starting on seeds!


Unfortunately, I cannot find a French translation for Chia seeds. Could you supply the botanical name please?


there is lots of media coverage these days due to the fact that chia seeds are amazingly healthy for you! The Aztec Diet is a new book out by Dr. Bob Arnot that sings chia praise-seeds that are blended and sliced open (not ground or milled) are the best for you.

Chia Seed Lovers

I love the title of this blog 😉 By the way thanks for the information and for the recipes. I really love Chia seeds and one of my favorite simple recipe is to add them to my favorite omelet.


Love them in taco salad and in scrambled eggs. Also on cold salads! Their taste is similar to roasted sunflower seeds to me.


Here’s an awesome recipe: 1/3 cup chia seeds, 2 cups almond or soy milk, 2 tablespoons raw honey. Mix and sit for 5 minutes. Stir again and then sprinkle cinnamon on top. Put in fridge for several hours. Each for breakfast with bananas or alone. Its a great breakfast, snack or dessert. Yum!

Holly Martino

I buy my chia seeds from Vitacost on the Web. They come in a 1 lb. bag, and they taste great, as well as adding a slightly crunchy texture to smoothies, or whatever you choose to use them on or in. I prefer Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Chia Seeds, and they get a 4.9 out of 5 star rating from consumers. I am not a healthnut, and I usually don’t comment on health foods, but this one is well worth it both healthwise and tastewise.

Organic fan

Do chia seeds need to be ground to reap the nutritional benefits (similar to flax seeds)?

Jaime McLeod

No, Organic fan, you can enjoy them whole.

Thom Foote

I appreciate the info and recipes in the article but wish it had more. What do they taste like? Can they be used as a small scale ground cover? Can they be mixed with other chicken feed or are they too expensive? Can they be sprouted?


I buy my Chia seeds off the Internet from http://www.getchia.com. This is a family owned company and they have great prices and free postage. I LOVE these little seeds and sprinkle them on almost everything I eat. They will disappear from view after being added to spagetti sauce, soup, salad dressing or bakery goods so you can get added nutrition into picky eaters!


I get my Chia seeds from the health food co-op that we’re a part of. Personally, I prefer the black seeds. The white had a little bit of an aftertaste to me.


I bought my Chia seeds at my local supermarket in the organic foods baking section. They came in a 1 lb. bag. They really have no taste in my opinion but if you have them in your mouth long enough while you are chewing, they do turn to a gelatinous little blob. I add them to smoothies, my morning yogurt (1 tsp. just stirred in), etc. I will definitely be adding them to my muffin mix next time I make them.

Par Loomis

Where do you buy chia seeds? What do they taste like? Very timely story as they are in the news everyday. Thanks

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