Healthy Living on February 4, 2010 by

Introducing Chia Seed & Giveaway

Chia is a good source of protein and dietary fiber.

Chia is a good source of protein and dietary fiber.

Over the years, we have received many requests for chia seed and we are happy to announce that we are now producing black chia seed. Chia has been recognized by health professionals worldwide for being an excellent source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Chia contains the same amount of Omega-3 as Flaxseed Meal, but does not need to be ground before consuming to reap the benefits.

The seeds of the Chia plant are small, about the size of poppy seeds, and range in color from silvery white to black. Our chia seed is mostly black, but contains some white seeds throughout. They make a great addition to salads, breads, hot cereal, and yogurt. A traditional staple of the Inca and Mayan peoples, chia was consumed by mixing the seeds with agua fresca or juice and taken as a ritual in the morning to power them through the day.

The soluble fiber in  chia seed produces a gel-like substance when combined with water. This gel takes longer to digest in the stomach, which keeps you feeling full longer. We’ve done some experimenting with chia seed here and have found the gel works well as an egg replacer in baked goods. Chia seed is naturally gluten free, but is not being packaged in our gluten free facility.


To celebrate chia, I’m giving away 30 packages of chia seed to my lucky readers.

There are 30 chances to win and three ways to enter,  so here’s how to increase your odds:

Blog: In the comment section below, tell me what you’d like to know about chia and we’ll not only enter you in the contest, but try our best to get an answer for you.  I’ll select 10 winners randomly from all those who post on our blog by Monday, 02/08 at 5 pm Pacific Time. Winners will be announced on Tuesday!

Facebook: Post a comment/question  on our Facebook page (to make sure you don’t get missed, please use “Chia Contest” somewhere in your comment), 10 winners will be randomly selected from all Facebook entrants. I’ll select 10 winners randomly from all those who post on our facebook page by Monday, 02/08 at 5 pm Pacific Time. Winners will be announced on Tuesday!

Twitter: Tweet a comment/question to us: @bobs_red_mill (use #chia to tag it), 10 winners will be randomly selected from all Twitter entrants. I’ll select 10 winners randomly from all those who send us a tweet by Monday, 02/08 at 5 pm Pacific Time. Winners will be announced on Tuesday!


What is the difference between sprouted and unsprouted chia seeds? (Nutritionally speaking.) Also, are ground chia seeds easier to digest?

@Sam This is probably the hardest question I got. Here’s what I know about sprouts- they are almost always healthier and more nutrient-rich than their seed counterparts, but I really cannot find any place that gives a solid, evidence-based answer to your question. Chia seeds do not need to be ground for easier digestion. The seed coat becomes quite gelatinous when it comes into contact with water, making it easy to digest.

Deb says:

Does one use chia the same way as ground flax – I put gound flax in almost all baking?
What does it taste like?

@Deb Yes, you can essentially use chia seed as you would ground flax. You can add a few tablespoons to any recipe, though I’d recommend something that’s a little bit hearty like muffins or breads over something light like cookies or cakes. Chia has almost no real flavor of its own, which makes it an ideal candidate for mixing into baked goods. If you want to try it as an egg replacer, see my comments to Bridget below for directions.

Anne says:

Could I mix it in with my morning smoothie?

@Anne Absolutely! This is one of the best ways to get chia into your day. Just add a tablespoon of the seeds to your normal smoothie and enjoy! There are a lot of recipes on the internet for chia smoothies, if you want any ideas.

Karen says:

Can I add it to my banana bread?

@Karen Of course! Here is a recipe for Banana Bread that already calls for chia seed, if you’re interested:

Ooh! I was seriously on my way to the store to pick up some chia seeds! If you heat them, do they lose their nutritional value?

@Sarah As far as I can tell, chia seed looses very little, if any, of its nutritional value when exposed to normal baking temperatures.

Michelle says:

How are chia seeds more nutritionally “better” than other seeds out there? And what is the recommended daily amount to eat for optimal health?

@Michelle Truthfully, Chia seed is very similar nutritionally to Flax and Hemp- providing good amounts of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids, complete protein and dietary fiber. Beyond those characteristics, chia absorbs 9 times its weight in water, keeping the body hydrated. When mixed with water, the chia gel that is formed digests very slowly in the body, keeping blood sugar in check. One Tablespoon is the recommended serving size for optimal health.

Lynn says:

Where are Chia plants grown?

@Lynn Chia plants are native to the Southwestern United States (think California, Arizona) and Northwestern Mexico. They are also found in South America and Australia.

Miareeva says:

My question is – since it is inherently Gluten Free – why aren’t you packaging it in your Gluten Free facility?

@Miareeva I was planning to answer these questions tomorrow, but this one is too good to not answer tonight! We are not packaging it in our gluten free facility because it is cleaned on shared lines before it comes to our facility. The lines also process wheat and we do not feel comfortable labeling something as gluten free when it is being produced on shared lines with wheat. It could be that we find a supplier who is not doing this and make the change in the future.

Lori says:

It is so hard to find Chia Seeds in the regular grocery store and they are so expensive at speciality grocery stores. I love Bob’s products b/c they are reasonably priced, delicious, and LOCAL! I’m so glad you’re carrying them! Thank you! Are they ground or whole chia seeds?

@Lori We are only selling whole chia seeds right now, but a ground version may come later. If you want to consume them ground, simply put them in a clean coffee grinder and pulse for a few seconds. The seeds can be eaten whole with no loss of nutrients, however.

Bridget says:

How do you make the gel and use it as the egg replacement? Do you have to strain the seeds out or do they dissolve? I have a friend with an egg allergy (they think) … Thanks. Can’t wait to get an answer .

@Bridget Here is a great explanation from To make basic chia gel: Combine 1/3 cup chia seeds to every 2 cups distilled water in an airtight container. Shake vigorously to combine, allow to set for 90 seconds, then shake again. Store your chia gel in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. You can incorporate this tasteless gel into any liquid or semi-liquid food such as pudding, salad dressing, soup, jam, yogurt, cereal or dip.

Mary says:

I’m thrilled to hear that you’re carrying them! I know they’re tiny, but can you cook them as you can, say, quinoa, too?

@Mary I am sure you could put them in pilafs along with other grains, but I have yet to find a single source that suggests cooking them as you would other grains. I guess the best way to look at them is that they’re ready to eat without cooking… like hemp seeds, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds. We have a few recipes on our site for using chia, but if you Google chia recipes, there are lots of different takes on chia out there.

ewlake says:

I heard that chia seeds swallowed dry, followed by water, will act like an antacid. Can you validate?

@ewlake: I could find very little information that specifies if this is true or not. This is the best we could find: Native people have used chia gel on wounds, for colds and sore throats, for upset stomachs, body odors, prostate problems, and even constipation. It’s not a definite answer, but I don’t see any harm in trying it next time you have an upset stomach.

Jenni Leister says:

What an incredibly smart way to get all us knowing more about Chia Seeds.. Gosh, I don’t have any more questions after literally reading thru all 24 posts (since I needed to get to the end to post my comments)… An excellent promo idea and yes, I’m ready to substitute chia for some of the places I used your ground flax (which according to my father, is virtually everywhere, from meatloafs and Pakistani kebobs to coffee cakes and pie crusts!)… ok, so one chia question.. are they as easy to digest as ground flax?

@Jenni Chia seed is supposed to be very easy to digest, but I’m not sure if it’s easier than flax or not. Chia would make a great addition to almost anything, but I might lean away from using it in pie crust or items where a lighter touch is preferred. I say this mainly because, unlike flax, you’re using the whole seed and you might not like the poppy seed-like texture in your cakes and cookies. Then again, you might. 🙂

Staceyque says:

First, I thought you had to soak Chia seeds before eating (this is what Dr Oz said lol). Also, I have been searching for ways to raise my HDL levels, they are now below 50, and Chia seeds seem perfect for that since they are high in Omega-3 and fiber. Now, how about hemp seeds Bob =D

@Staceyque I am guessing that the soaking recommendation is to encourage the consumption of the seeds in their ‘gel’ form. The gel takes longer to break down in your body and will keep you fueled for longer. It’s a great way to eat them, and the gel is the traditional way to consume the seeds. They do not have to be soaked to reap the benefit of chia seed, however.

P.S. We do offer hemp seeds:

Sue says:

What does chia seed taste like? How does it respond to being in liquid? Will I get to try some? Please?

@Sue Chia has no discernible flavor- really, I’m eating them right now to see if I can describe it to you. When added to liquid, it will form a gel within minutes. Depending on how much liquid and how long you leave it, it can absorb all of the water and turn your liquid into a thick gel. The rule of thumb, is 9 parts liquid to 1 part chia to create the gel.

Heike says:

To Sam & Cassidy:
I do quite a bit of sprouting and have tried to sprout Chia seeds, but because they become gelatinous within just a few minutes sprouting is impossible. As far as I understand you get the same nutritional benefits of a sprouted seed by adding them to liquids like smoothies and letting them soak for about 30 minutes.

@Heike Thanks for the tips and info!

Krista says:

I work with chia seeds a lot at work as an R&D formulator/food scientist for Betty Lou’s Inc. Chia seeds are very nutritious, the only thing I get annoyed by is they get stuck in your teeth terribly, because they swell!

I do have questions about chia seed color–are the darker colored chia seeds more or less nutritious than the lighter ones? Does color make a difference? Why are there different shades?

@Krista The color has no effect on the nutritional value of the chia seed. Like flax, the black and white are simply two different shades of the same seed. I’m not positive, but based on the research I have done, the same plant can produce different shades of seed. When we were sourcing the seeds and picking between which shade we wanted to offer, the white were more expensive because they were not as common. They use sorting machines to pick the colors apart, which explains why you’ll see color variation in any package you buy- whether they are ours or not.

Joanna says:

I have never heard of chia seeds, but wonder where it is grown? You say you are producing it. Does that mean you are growing it? I hope I win. I’d like to try it.

@Joanna The chia plant is native to the Southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America. It is also being grown in Australia, but it is not native to Australia. No, we are not growing it, but we do clean it and package it. Our chia is being grown on sustainable farms in Australia. Why get it from so far away if it’s native to the US, you ask? We source ingredients based on sustainability practices as well as their ability to supply our demand. To my knowledge, our supplier was the best fit for our company.

I was also wondering if they lost nutritional value when heated. Now I know!
Also curious as to whether they have varying nutrient levels based on color.

@Jessica No, there is no difference between the two colors nutritionally.

Jessica says:

I love trying new foods! Especially ingredients that make my morning oatmeal even healthier. Chia seeds sound like a winner! Since I love to bake, too, are any nutrients lost at high temperatures? For that matter, does it have any specific vitamins/minerals that would be the ones lost? Also, what can I expect to pay for a bag in the store? (Because if I don’t get a free bag, I’ll probably go buy one!) Thanks for this chance!

@Jessica (jesharber) As far as I can tell, chia seed looses very little, if any, of its nutritional value when exposed to normal baking temperatures. I cannot locate information that tells me which minerals would be lost, if any. On our site, the chia seed will sell for around $8.50/lb (on sale for $6.97/lb right now) which means you could find it for anywhere between $9-$12/lb depending on where you look.

Sue-Ellen says:

So glad to hear that you guys are carrying Chia Seeds! I have one question, is there a limited to how much Chia seeds you should eat?

@Sue-Ellen Within reason, there is no amount of chia that will cause any detrimental effects on your body and health. The more chia you eat, the more soluble fiber you are consuming. Too much fiber can be hard on a delicate system, so I recommend starting with the basics- 1 Tbsp a day and move up from there. I am not a doctor, so I’d recommend speaking with your physician, dietician or naturopath if you have special dietary needs to be considered.

Kim says:

I use flax seeds in yogurt smoothies and baked goods. Is chia similar to this? Does it have a taste – like a nutty flavor (like flax seeds)? This may be a very dumb question, but is it from the Chia plant (like Chia Pets)??
Thanks, Kim

@Kim Unlike flax, chia has no discernible flavor. It’s akin to eating poppy seed. If you ate enough, I’m sure you could detect a slight nuttiness, but I have yet to taste one. Both flax and hemp seeds have pronounced flavors (in my opinion), but I’ve not found that to be the case with chia. Yes, it is the very same seeds used to create the lovable chia pets.

Jane says:

Can chia seeds be used in baked breads?

Oh golly I love chia seeds, but to be honest I really only use them on a couple things. So I’d love to know how I can incorporate them in baking.

Jenny says:

Ohhh would love to try some! I never have but am looking forward to many great recipes with them…have any good tips/recipes? Thanks

heather says:

Okay, I’ll bet we’re all thinking it, but nobody dare says it: is this going to make it possible for us to make our OWN Chia Pets?

Jen says:

Chia sounds interesting! I’d love to try it! 🙂

Lynn says:

I’ve been putting chia seeds in my smoothies and you don’t even notice them. Also, I made a healthy cake this weekend and used them (along with hulled hemp seeds) as sprinkles! 🙂 Just some easy ways to include them in your diet.

Teresa says:

If the seeds are added to a yeast bread dough with the dry ingredients, will they get gummy and soft during the mixing/rising process?

Lisa says:

I was wondering what the calorie count is on the Chia seeds.

@Lisa Chia has about 70 calories per 15 gram tablespoon.

grace says:

If it is naturally gluten free why don’t you package it in your gluten free facility???????? Now only 3 of the 4 members of our house will be able to eat it.


We are not packaging it in our gluten free facility because it is cleaned on shared lines before it comes to our facility. The lines also process wheat and we do not feel comfortable labeling something as gluten free when it is being produced on shared lines with wheat. It could be that we find a supplier who is not doing this and make the change in the future. I am sorry for the inconvenience.

Nancy says:

Do you have plans to package the chia in a gluten free facility? I think this is very important and will increase your sales. I am asking two questions. Can I grow the seeds from the package?

We are not packaging it in our gluten free facility because it is cleaned on shared lines before it comes to our facility. The lines also process wheat and we do not feel comfortable labeling something as gluten free when it is being produced on shared lines with wheat. It could be that we find a supplier who is not doing this and make the change in the future. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Yes, you can grow chia from the seeds we are selling.

Jenni says:

@Cassidy… how did you know that I might have tried it in my pie crusts!?!?!?! I’ve put flax in my pie crusts many times! Did my father (who is not as big of a fan of flax as I am) call you? hee, hee 🙂

Ashley says:

Can you grind the chia seeds yourself in order to make chia flour?

@Ashley: Yes, you can grind the chia seeds to make a chia powder/flour. You can probably do this in a coffee grinder or in a spice grinder.

TK says:

I use Chia seeds every morning. I sprinkle it over my cereal (puffed wheat, half cup of Kashi Strawberry fields, with almond milk). It doesn’t add any taste, but a different texture. I’ve also made the gel with sweetener and almond milk and it’s like a very fine tapioca (watery if you add too much liquid).

Jenni says:

Thanks Bob’s Red Mill for such a fun contest and for the chia seeds! I look forward to cooking with them!

Renee says:

I just weighed a teaspoon of chia seeds on a highschool triple-beam balance. I got 2.65 grams per teaspoon. So a tablespoon would be 7.95 g, which is not very close to 15g. That’s a big difference from what another commenter posted above!

@Renee We’ll take a look at it and see if there is an error somewhere. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Joanne says:

What is the ALA and lignan content in Chia seeds? How does this complare to Flax seed?

@Joanne Chia seeds contain about 2900mg of Omega-3 and 1100mg of Omega-6 in a 15 gram serving. More info can be found here:

Curtis says:

What stores around Portland carry Bob’s Red Mill Chia Seeds? New Seasons?

Hi Curtis! You know, I’m not sure. I’ll have to do some asking around here, but should be able to find out shortly. This item may not yet be available at any stores, as it can take up to 3 months from product announcement to being on the shelf due. You can always come down to Milwaukie and pick it up at our store, however. If you haven’t been, it’s really a lot of fun.

@Curtis No stores in Portland have picked this item up yet, as it has not yet been introduced to the trade. You can purchase it at our mill store, but expect to see it on stores shelves in the next 3 months at places such as Whole Foods, New Seasons and possibly Fred Meyer

Noreen says:

Dear Bobs Red Mill – Would Chia Seeds be considered “a problem seed” like tomato seeds,etc for people with diverticulitis, or NOT since they gel?

Dianne says:

Can you sprout chia seeds?

@Dianne You can, but it’s tricky and I don’t have directions for doing so. Here are some basic directions:

Joanna Andersen says:

Will Chia seeds cause problems if you have diverticulusis (holy intestines)? I have been using the seeds whole this past week and don’t seem to be having a problem. Would it be better to grind them?

@Joanna I highly recommend talking to your doctor. I do not know if they would be ok for you or not and I would hate to give you the wrong advice. You do not need to grind them to get their health benefits.

Patricia Gran says:

Are your chia seeds raw?
I assume so. However some brands specifically state they are raw. So I am curious if there is anything that would make your seeds not raw.

John says:

We have been eating chia for breakfast for several years and, in addition to benefiting from its nutrient content we find it very effective for regulating the bowel.

Although we have on occasion milled the seeds in a coffee grinder, we prefer the texture of the whole seeds. We often make a gel by mixing the seeds with water before adding them to yoghurt and freshly chopped fruit. We sometimes add a little cream from grass-fed cows.

Because of their antioxidant content, chia seeds have an unusually long shelf life for a food that is rich in omega 3 PUFA. It is worth noting that chia seeds, like other plant sources of omega 3, contain ALA (alpha linolenic acid) rather than the highly unsaturated fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are found in fish and algae.

The book CHIA by Ayerza and Coates gives a very interesting account of the history of chia together with detailed analysis of the potential health benefits of the seeds.


Hoppy Whitman says:

I am interested in the claims by some chia seed companies that chia seed lowers LDL and raises HDL cholesterol, in addition to triglycerides. Other foods high in Omega 3’s, such as fish oil (EPA/DHA) only lower triglycerides. Can you comment on the HDL,LDL, and triglyceride effects of Chia seeds? Thank you.

Melissa Hamilton says:

Hello, Can you tell me which retail stores
in the Midwest will be carrying the Bob’s Red Mill Chia seeds?
Thank you!

Hi Melissa,

Unfortunately, we do not know which stores carry which products. You can view stores in your area using the store finder on our website. I recommend calling ahead. I also recommend asking for the product if they do not carry it, as this is the very best way to get a product into your store. I’m sorry that we cannot be of more help.

Robin Lenard says:

I have heard that you can take chia seed to keep you full longer – and eating less. How is the best manner to take chia seed?

Robin- unlike flax, chia seed can be eaten whole to receive the full nutritional value. There are many different ways to eat chia. For a great breakfast that will keep you full, I recommend combining chia with oatmeal. People have added chia to smoothies and just mixed the seeds with juice, as well. There really is no right or wrong way to eat chia. This smoothie sounds delicious and would be a good way to eat chia:

Lisa says:

How many grams of omega3 are in each tablespoon full?

Hi Lisa,

There are 2282 mg of Omega-3 and 752 mg of Omega-6 in each tablespoon of Chia.

I use Chia seeds in my Greek Yogert every morning and on toast&peanut butter for a snack and also use it like pepper an my meals.Very good to curb eating larger portions

Carolyn says:

Do you have any suggestions for how to use the chia seed/gel as an egg alternative in baked goods?

Chia works very well as an egg-alternative. Here is a good recipe for doing so:

I’m not sure that you really need to grind them for this to work, but I can see the appeal of having them ground instead of as seeds in your baked good.

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