Everyone’s heard of chia seeds and many are now following the healthy eating trends that purport the health benefits of these little seeds.
However that raises many questions for folks, and lucky your as today is the day you finally get some clarity and the answer to many of these question.
As well as some real practical advise and sources to help incorporate chia seeds into your diet.
Are chia seeds a good source of protein?
When it comes to plants, the amount of protein in chia seeds is quite high compared to other plants. It’s quite impressive how much protein these little seeds are packed with:
- One ounce of seeds contains 4 grams of protein
- Chia seeds are high in quality protein
- The quality protein in chia seeds are much higher than most plant foods
For the sake of comparison, chicken breast tends to be what comes to mind for many when you’re thinking of upping your protein intake. One chicken breast contains about 54 grams of protein.
Now, you aren’t going to be reaching your daily protein intake goals just by eating chia seeds.
It’s a good way to add some protein into your diet and a way to add some variety. You will still need to add some other sources of protein to reach your daily intake.
To put things into perspective, it’s important to understand how much protein a person should be consuming every day.
You can access a Protein Calculator to input your information and receive a personalized recommended daily protein intake. .
You may be a big fan of chicken, but there’s only so much you can eat.
Bodybuilders tend to rely heavily on chicken to get their protein intake, which is obviously much higher than the standard recommended intake. If you’re a bodybuilder, you may choose to add some chia seeds into your diet to have some variety.
One way you can incorporate chia seeds into your diet is by adding it to a smoothie.
You might be the person that enjoys blending up a delicious smoothie to start your day. A fun part of chia seeds is that they practically have no flavor, so they won’t alter the test of whatever smoothie you choose.
A fan favorite is the Strawberry Banana Chia Seed Smoothie. It’s super easy to make and delicious.
Now that you know how chia seeds are a good source of protein, let’s take a closer look at it. Its time to dive into the type of protein chia seeds provide.
Are Chia Seeds A Complete Protein?
To answer whether chia seeds are a complete protein or not, it’s important to understand exactly what that is.
A complete protein contains the nine essential amino acids that our body cannot make on its’ own. The nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Some foods that you eat every day have protein, but they are missing some of the amino acids required to make it a complete protein. Whole grains, vegetables, lentils, and many others are examples of foods that are considered incomplete proteins.
If you’d like to check out how many amino acids are in certain foods, you can use a calculator.
Typically, the types of food that you would think of being a complete protein would be animal-based foods. Foods like fish, beef, pork, eggs, etc. are all foods that you can eat that include the nine amino acids our bodies need.
Now back to chia seeds. Chia seeds include the nine amino acids that cannot be made by the body. Because of this, they are considered a complete protein.
Chia Seeds History & Nutrition
Now, someone might ask why you would go for chia seeds as a source of complete protein when you can eat a slab steak to get the amino acids they need.
You must keep in mind not everyone eats meat. It seems that now more than ever, you have a lot of people that have chosen diets that exclude meats.
The Vegan Diet is an example of one of those diets.
If someone is on a diet that excludes meats, dairy, or is as strict as only eating plant-based products, it’s important they are aware of what options they have to get their required nutrients. Chia seeds are in the top 15 sources of plant-based protein.
Are Chia Seeds High In Iron?
When you think of foods high in iron, you automatically think of red meat. You certainly didn’t think of plants, let alone chia seeds, as a food high in iron.
It may be surprising, but chia seeds actually are high in protein. There is about 2.2 mg of iron packed into 1 ounce of chia seeds.
For comparison, if you look at how much iron is in red meat, you’re looking at about 2 mg to 3 mg for 3 ounces of meat.
While numbers alone may seem that you would get more iron from chia seeds than red meat, it isn’t that simple. There are other factors that come into play when choosing how to get your iron.
There’s are a handful of foods that are high in iron that you should be eating regularly.
Now, when you are using plant-based foods to get your source of iron, you’ll need to eat more than you would if you were eating meat. It seems that when eating plants to get iron, it is more difficult to absorb compared to eating something like red meat. Plans also offer a slightly different iron than meats.
Most people have heard of iron’s importance, but many may not know why it is so important that you have enough of it.
If you don’t have enough iron, your body will have trouble making oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Essentially, your body won’t have enough oxygen, which comes with a ton of other issues you will face.
Some people do have an iron deficiency anemia, which you may have heard of.
When dealing with this, the person tends to experience fatigue, weakness, headaches, among many other symptoms.
Someone with this iron deficiency will need to put more iron into their diet that most others.
Now that you know chia seeds are high in iron and the ways you need to eat plant-based foods to get your source of iron, it’s time to discuss another question you may have heard about regarding the dangers of eating chia seeds.
Can Chia Seeds Grow In Your Intestines?
The thought of chia seeds growing in your intestines may seem a bit silly.
Will the seeds technically grow, like a watermelon seed into a full watermelon? No.
Are there precautions you should take when eating chia seeds to make sure you don’t have any type of intestinal blockage? Yes.
The first topic to discuss is the way you should be eating chia seeds.
When you eat chia seeds, you should first be allowing them to expand in a liquid. If you’ve never witnessed chia seeds put in water, it’s quite impressive. The seeds can expand up to 27 times their size when placed in liquid.
Many years ago, a man was sent to the ER due to eating chia seeds. Now in his case, he had eaten a tablespoon of dry seeds and washed it down with a glass of water.
By doing this, the seeds ended up blocking the esophagus, which of course impacted his ability to swallow anything.
It took several hours to clear the blockage.
Now, if you take what you know about chia seeds. I’m sure when the man ate the dry seeds and immediately followed with a glass of water, the seeds began expanding while they were being digested.
As you can imagine, that many seeds expanding up to 27 times their size in your esophagus is a recipe for disaster.
Truthfully, it doesn’t appear that this has been a common occurrence or that there have been multiple cases outlined showing ER visits due to chia seeds.
However, it’s very important to eat them the correct way to make sure you don’t end up with one of these problems.
There’s a ton of different foods and recipes you can throw chia seeds into. Now, there are ways to eat chia seeds raw without soaking them up in the liquid.
But typically, you’ll want to grind them up into smaller pieces to make sure when they expand, it’s not an entire seed expanding at once.
Or make sure you aren’t eating a ton of them in one bite.
Overall, it is clear that chia seeds have many benefits and can supply a good amount of protein which makes them a huge benefit to add to your daily diet.
It is also a bonus that you can add chia seeds to so many foods since they have practically no taste at all.
As discussed, you aren’t going to use chia seeds as your main source of protein. You will want to have other foods added to your diet to reach your daily intake.
However, it’s an easy way to get the protein boost you may need on a day you’re lacking.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.