What are Chia Seeds?
It is said that chia seeds have been the primary source of food for the Mayans and Aztecs since 3,500 BC. Not many people know this, but these two ancient civilizations were the first to discover their substantial health benefits. Naturally, at that time, the concept of chia seed smoothie didn’t exist, so they consumed them as such, milled them to obtain flour, added them in teas and potions, and also used them for medicinal purposes. As for their specific dishes, one can only assume that their recipes have prevailed time and found their way in today’s South American cuisines.
The name “chia” comes from the Mayans, and it literally means “power.” Most likely, they were named this way because they proved to be an excellent source of energy for the body. Nowadays, they are pretty much consumed for the same reasons, and since they do not have a strong taste, they are straightforward to integrate into most foods, from main dishes to desserts and drinks. Wondering what do chia seeds taste like? They have a very mild and nutty flavor, and thus, one of the most popular and tasty ways of consuming them is by adding chia seeds to smoothies.
Through this current article, we will show you why using chia seeds in smoothies is such a great idea, and also the best ways to put together the ultimate chia seed smoothie!
Why Should You Add Chia Seeds to Your Smoothie?
They come from a plant called Salvia Hispanica, which is part of the mint family. It is also one of the most nutritious foods offered by nature. They are extraordinarily healthy seeds for the body, full of essential nutrients, and also pack many benefits for both adults and children. Chia seeds can be either white or black; if they are brown, they are not yet ripe. Nutritionally, however, there is no difference between white or black ones. You picture them as two twins that belong to the same family.
They are ideal for people who aim for a vegan or vegetarian diet, as they are a great source of iron, protein, fiber, Vitamin B, minerals, and Omega 3 fatty acids. Given all these amazing properties, imagine the overall nutritional value of a smoothie with chia seeds!
Nutrition and Health Benefits
Like we said, chia seeds are extremely rich in iron and antioxidants. The main role of antioxidants is that of stopping the cell oxidation process in the body, and that of neutralizing free radicals, thus fighting against premature aging. Quite often, they have also been known to prevent the formation of cancer cells. They also have a very high level of protein – around 14% of the seed content is protein. It makes them ideal for people who consume very little or no meat at all. Especially when consuming whole chia seeds in smoothies, they contribute to maintaining the health of the body and optimal weight. As such, they are an excellent source of energy for athletes, and for those who love sports in general, and lots of physical activity.
Also, the carbohydrates present in them are highly beneficial sources of fibers. Based on their weight, chia seeds contain around 40% fiber, thus ranking among the best causes out of all real foods. As you may already know, fibers nourish the body, helping the digestive system to function optimally, lowering the bad cholesterol as well as the chances of colon cancer and many modern diseases related to digestion. Fibers are also responsible for lowering blood sugar, which can be quite beneficial, especially for people that have diabetes.
And last, but not least, they can help you lose weight. Because it is so rich in fiber and protein, a daily chia seed smoothie can help you maintain your optimal weight and even get rid of those extra pounds. By consuming them, the sensation of satiety settles in quickly and, because they slow down the absorption of food, your appetite will decrease.
How to Select and Store Chia Seeds
The main thing to consider before sliding them in your blender for smoothies is their color. Whether they’re black or white, it doesn’t matter; both have reached maturity and are perfect for consumption. The only time you should exclude a seed is when its color is brown – this means that it has not reached its maturity and is not yet ripe, or fit for your chia seed smoothie.
In matters of storage, you need to take into consideration the fact that these seeds are used to a tropical climate and intensive heat. As such, they can be stored in airtight containers, and you will need to avoid moisture inside of it at all costs. For example, you should never store or touch them when your palms are sweaty.
How to Use Chia Seeds in a Smoothie
If you’re wondering how to use chia seeds in smoothies, there are several different ways of doing it. From adding them raw to using a mini food processor, we will breakdown each possibility in part. But, in the end, it’s all a matter of taste and your expectations from a perfect smoothie:
How do You Add Them to Smoothies?
Whether you soak chia seeds or don’t, you can add whole chia seeds in smoothies. It will give the beverage that nice crunchy texture, which so many of us love. Just as well, you can blend them first, using only water and the seeds. It will result in a gel-like texture, which those who don’t appreciate crunchiness will find super-smooth. It is comparable to the cream obtained when using the best milk frother of the moment.
There’s no general rule here. Some people prefer to blend them in smoothies, others the whole thing. And there are, of course, those who like both ways, so bottom line, it’s entirely up to you!
Do You Have to Soak Chia Seeds?
Again, this is only a matter of preference. If you first soak chia seeds deep in water, they will expand and clump together, forming a gel-like substance. Naturally, this means no more crunchiness, but on the plus side, it will also make them easier to digest. Not only this, but they will also help the stomach digest other foods, apart from the chia seed smoothie.
If you know you have serious digesting or swallowing problems, then you should soak them one night before making the smoothie. Another thing you can consider is to crush them into a smooth powder, then add them to your drink.
Quick Tip: Instead of water, you can consider soaking them in delicious and super-healthy almond milk instead.
Is It Better to Blend it?
If you don’t have any digestive problems, and you prefer your smoothies more crunchy, then yes! The best way for you to prepare them is by blending them along with your other ingredients. They will not be as crunchy as they would if you were to add them directly, but still, they will make a noticeable difference in the texture of your smoothie.
Final Thoughts on Using Chia Seeds in Smoothies
In just two tablespoons of chia seeds, you will find no more than 137 calories and 1 gram of digestible carbohydrates. If we exclude non-digestible fibers, the number of calories reaches 101. And this is precisely why they are one of the best nutritional sources in the world. The best part is that they come directly from nature, as a whole, unprocessed and not genetically altered, organically grown, full of antioxidants, and gluten-free.
With such qualities, it is not surprising that most of us here at MyKitchenAdvisor have started using chia seeds in smoothies so quickly. But let us know if you agree with this smooth recommendation, and if you have any great recipes you would like to share, don’t hold back!