A common question that gets asked about chia seeds, is if they are ok to be cooked with? There are a couple of things to be aware of before cooking your chia seeds, so read this first for the full information.
We’ll also discuss options for eating chia seeds and different ways to prep them or add them to your current foods!
Can Chia Seeds Be Cooked?
The short answer is that chia seeds can be cooked or used in cooking, and in some recipes, this can enhance the nutritional profile of the food they are being added to. Chia seeds are not difficult to cook with, and can easily be added to many recipes or baked goods. However, there are some potential drawbacks to cooking chia seeds.
When you cook chia seeds, there is a potential to destroy some of the nutrients that chia seeds provide. This can be a concern, as some people like to cook chia seeds with their oatmeal, rice, porridge, or other food items. But, as we will look at later, there are some alternatives to using chia seeds that do not involve any cooking of them.
Does Cooking Chia Seeds Destroy Nutrients?
Cooking chia seeds might degrade their nutritional value. I say might, since there is no evidence that says one or the other, whether this is true (there are no studies at this point showing if heating or boiling chia seeds affects the nutritional value).
But anytime you heat food to a high temperature, you run the risk of degrading some of its nutritional content, with boiling causing the greatest amount of nutrient loss compared to other cooking methods. How Cooking Affects the Nutrient Content of Foods
In the case of chia seeds, there is the concern that heating them will cause their omega-3 or antioxidant contents to be reduced or lost. For the Omega-3s, this is because fatty acids can degrade if exposed to heat. This is one of the main nutritional benefits of chia seeds, their high omega 3 content.
Although they do have other good nutrients in them, including lots of fiber, you might not want to risk losing or degrading the omega 3s. (Link: Does Frying, Baking and Canning Fish Affect the Omega-3 Content?)
It’s also a concern that the antioxidant content could be reduced by boiling or just heating. Boiling may reduce antioxidant content by 60%.
Since two of the main nutritional benefits of chia seeds are the antioxidants and the Omega-3s, this is why cooking, or even just heating them might not be good. The chia seeds might lose some of their wonderful health benefits after cooking them or boiling them.
(I would definitely advise against boiling them, unless you are just trying to get the extra fiber from chia seeds, and aren’t concerned about the Omega-3 fats. See Can You Boil Chia Seeds? Here is Why I Wouldn’t (in Oatmeal or Water).
Do You Need to Soak Chia Seeds Before Eating?
You don’t need to soak chia seeds before eating, but it will help with their nutrient absorption and digestibility. Soaking chia seeds can sometimes make them easier to eat. Whole chia seeds can tend to get stuck in your teeth and gums sometimes!
But soaking chia seeds is not the only option. You can also grind chia seeds. This has been shown to increase their digestibility even more than soaking! (See Ground Chia Seeds vs. Whole)
Get some more ideas on how to eat chia seeds without soaking in the rest of this article.
How to Cook Chia Seeds for Breakfast
Sometimes cooking food will help to increase our ability to digest the food and its nutrients. But, with chia seeds, there is a better way to increase their digestibility and make them easier to eat, without having to cook them. It’s known as soaking chia seeds (Learn more at How to Soak Chia Seeds)
Chia Seeds in Oatmeal
When you soak chia seeds, you allow them to germinate and increase their digestibility in your system. You also reduce the phytic acid content of the chia seeds. Also, soaking chia seeds makes them easy to add to your breakfast oatmeal. (Healthy Breakfast Oatmeal Bowl with Chia Seeds)
The gel can easily be mixed in with the oatmeal, and there won’t be any kind of crunchy chia seeds, nor will there really be much of any taste that is added from the chia gel. (This is because chia seeds have basically no taste, and the gel from soaked chia seeds is the same.)
Overnight Oats with Chia Seeds
Instead of making a chia gel to add to the breakfast oatmeal, some will instead choose to make overnight oats with the chia seeds already added to the oatmeal. In this way, the chia seeds will absorb the liquid and gel, but they will already be mixed in with the oatmeal, eliminating the step of having to add the chia gel to the oatmeal after cooking the oatmeal.
Ground Chia Seeds in Oatmeal
Another option instead of cooking chia seeds for breakfast is to grind them seeds instead. This is actually what we have begun doing because some studies have shown that it is even healthier than soaking them (but soaking is still good as well). (Learn more at Ground Chia Seeds vs. Whole – Which is Better?)
Grinding the chia seeds makes them very easy to sprinkle on top of your breakfast in the morning, and not just oatmeal, but cereal or any other food as well.
Chia Seed Pudding
Another alternative to cooking chia seeds for breakfast is to make a chia seed pudding. Chia seed pudding is very easy to make and the act of allowing it to sit will cause the chia seeds to swell, in place of cooking them.
Can You Eat Chia Seeds Raw?
You can eat chia seeds raw. But by soaking them or grinding them, you will increase their digestibility and your absorption of the Omega-3 fats as well as other nutrients.
But eating chia seeds raw still provides fiber and other nutrients. Eating chia seeds just like any other seed, is perfectly fine to do.
How to Eat Chia Seeds
There are several ways to eat chia seeds. Although you could eat them raw and in their whole form, it’s usually better to prepare them first in order to increase the ability of our bodies to absorb key nutrients from chia seeds. There are also some ways that you can add chia seeds to your current foods as well in order to make eating them easier.
Soak Chia Seeds
One of the most common things to do with chia seeds is to soak them. Although this isn’t absolutely necessary, it does increase nutrient absorption and makes it easier to add them to foods. (See Do You Need to Soak Chia Seeds Before Eating?)
Soaking chia seeds will create a chia seed gel. This gel can then be added to things like oatmeal.
Another way to eat chia seeds, which is also another way to soak them, is to create a chia pudding. Chia pudding is basically chia seeds that have been soaked, but instead of soaking them in water, you soak them in a milk, such as soy milk or almond milk. You can optionally add some sweeteners such as honey if you like, as well as other flavorings.
When the chia seeds soak up the liquid of the milk, they will form a thick pudding-like consistency. This is why it’s called chia seed pudding. It can even make a delicious and healthy snack or breakfast! (See Is Chia Pudding Healthy?)
Ground Chia Seeds
An alternative to soaking chia seeds is to grind them into a chia flour. Ground chia seeds have been shown in studies to have maximum nutrient uptake, especially for the ALA Omega-3 fats. (See Ground Chia Seeds vs. Whole – Which is Better?)
Ground chia seeds can be sprinkled on food, just as you would whole chia seeds. Or, you can still make a soaked chia seed gel with them. But, the consistency tends to be very thick and sticky if you use ground chia seeds to make soaked chia seeds.
Whole Chia Seeds
Although you can increase the digestibility of chia seeds by soaking or grinding them, you can still get benefits from whole chia seeds. One of these great benefits is the high amount of fiber that chia seeds have.
Whole chia seeds can be sprinkled on pretty much any food that you are eating. Some examples of these foods might include oatmeal, salad, side dishes such as rice, etc. This can increase the fiber content of these foods, as well as provide some antioxidants and plant-based protein.
Chia Seed Water
Chia seeds water is a quick and easy option for eating more chia seeds. You can easily make some chia water by adding chia seeds to a glass of water. (See Chia Seed Water Complete Guide with Easy Recipe)
This can be drunk throughout the day or at meals.
Add Chia Seeds to Baked Goods
You can actually add chia seeds to baked goods like cookies and bread! A little bit of chia seeds can be sprinkled into your favorite baked good recipes, and shouldn’t really alter the texture or flavor. (Just don’t go overboard or you might change the texture).
Another cool option is that chia seeds can actually be used in place of eggs in baking. It’s actually called a chia egg.
Add Chia Seeds to Smoothies
You can easily add chia seeds to smoothies that you already eat on a daily basis. If you are looking for some great smoothie recipes for your healthy, check out the Smoothie Diet.
Chia Seed Recipes
You can locate our ever-growing list of chia seed recipes at Chia Seed Recipes.
Here are some chia seed recipes as well.
How Much Chia Seeds Per Day?
I recommend between 1-5 tablespoons per day, depending on your needs and goals. If you are already eating healthy, you may only need 1 tablespoon per day. But if you aren’t getting much other fiber, you might want to aim for a higher number such as 4 or 5 tablespoons.
Make sure to start at a lower number of 1 tablespoon per day, until you are sure your body can handle the extra fiber. Then increase the amount by 1 tablespoon per day. This is because chia seeds are very high in fiber, which can cause an upset stomach if you aren’t used to it.
Learn more about how much chia seeds to eat at How Much Chia Seeds Per Day?
Where to Buy Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are available at most supermarkets nowadays in the health food section. The chia seeds we get are actually available at your local Walmart or online. These are the cheapest chia seeds I’ve found, and they are organic and good quality. Find them here.
Lance has been passionate about the plant-based diet and we have been following a whole food plant-based diet for over 5 years. We focus on health, natural healing, weight management, animal rights, and the health of the planet and environment by focusing on whole plant-based foods and sustainable practices.
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