Should You Choose White or Black Chia Seeds?

Whether white or black, chia seeds are a tasty option

Black and White chia seeds
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Many Americans' first introduction to chia seeds has been through the weird and wonderful "chia pets." These animal-shaped topiaries are prepared with chia seeds which sprout to produce "fur." Fast-forward to the present day, when chia seeds have become a health-food phenomenon.

Chia Seeds Pack a Lot of Bang for the Buck

Because they have a pleasant nutty taste and can be prepared in a variety of ways, chia seeds are easy to include in any diet.

While there isn't much evidence that chia seeds will help you lose weight or gain vigor, they are certainly a more nutritious option than ordinary American white bread or mashed potatoes. With nearly five grams of protein, 179 grams of calcium, and nearly 10 grams of fiber in just one ounce, chia seeds are a great way to add some bulk to your smoothie, omelet, pancakes, or muffins, or you can just eat them dry-roasted. 

White Versus Black Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are gaining popularity for their nutritional content, including dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They are available in two colors: black and white. Which color of chia seed offers greater health benefits?

According to Wayne Coates, professor emeritus in the office of arid land studies at the University of Arizona, there is no significant nutritional difference between the two colors of chia seeds. A long-time researcher on the best ways to grow and harvest chia seeds, Coates says that black and white chia seeds boast essentially the same nutrient profile.

A Brief History of Chia Seeds

Chia originated in Central America, near Guatemala, and also in areas of southern Mexico. It was a staple food, like corn and beans, in the diets of the Aztecs and Mayans. Chia actually got its name from the Mayan word for “strength.” It grows well in these hot, and sometimes arid, regions.

The chia plant is extremely hardy and adaptable to climate change and today is grown all over the world. The quality and nutritive values of the seeds are the same no matter what type of soil or climate they are grown.

Today, chia seeds are harvested worldwide and can be found in most grocery and health-food stores available for everyone to try.

Do Chia Seeds Lose Their Nutritional Value When Cooked?

Many people worry about cooking chia seeds, thinking that the health benefits of the seeds will be lost when cooked. It actually doesn't make any difference if you eat them raw, soaked, or cook them in recipes—the nutritional content stays basically the same.

Good-for-You Recipes Using Chia Seeds

While chia seeds are terrific sprinkled raw on all types of foods, they also can be used in combination with other good-for-you ingredients like berries and quinoa to make superfoods like Blueberry Oatmeal Chia Seed Muffins. Try making Chia Seed Pudding or Mango Tumeric Chia Pudding for a healthy dessert or Chia Seed Energy Bites as a snack. For a refreshing drink, Chia Fresca is a nice alternative. If you're hankering for chocolate, this diabetes-friendly Chocolate Chia Smoothie might just do the trick.

Sources:

Coates, W. Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing; 2012.

Lewin, Jo. The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds. BBC GoodFood. Published April 27, 2017.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28, 2016.

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