Can you boil chia seeds? (3 Easy Recipes)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you boil chia seeds? We will discuss the correct procedure to boil chia seeds that retains their best texture and properties. We will also discuss the health benefits of consuming chia seeds. 

Can you boil chia seeds?

Marketing of chia seeds has proven to be successful in the U.S. market, as reflected by the increase in consumer awareness. Between 2010 and 2014, the number of U.S. consumers who indicated that they have heard of chia as a food item increased from 27% to 37% (1).

You can boil chia seeds. Chia seeds can be eaten raw or cooked or boiled as part of a dish. Chia seeds are added to smoothies, juices, yogurt, and salad as ground-up or whole seeds. 

 If you want to boil chia seeds, you can add them to pudding or make hot cereal. It is a good idea to boil chia seeds before you eat them but be sure to boil for a few minutes only. If you expose the chia seeds to a high temperature, the outer coating of the seed breaks down.

Heating or boiling chia seeds also reduces the nutritional value. Also, you do not want to heat the chia seeds for long and turn them to mush. When high heat is applied to chia seeds and water, the gelatinous structure breaks down. It is presumed that the mucilage is located in the outer cells that form the seed coat, called mucilaginous cells. The mucilage is present inside the testa epidermal cell of mature chia seeds and when they come into contact with water it immediately expands rupturing the primary cell layer that protrudes from these epidermal cells thus surrounding the seed (3).

A study compared the nutritional changes caused by boiling chia seeds. The total flavonoid contents of boiled chia seeds was significantly reduced compared to control. Possible reduction of flavonoid contents in boiled chia seeds may be due to the penetration of these compounds into hot water due to continuous contact with water. Significant losses in the mineral content of the chia seeds were observed after boiling, including in losses of  P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Fe, Cu, Mn, Pb and Zn (2). 

The external gelatinous layer swells and softens which makes it easy to swallow. However, boiling for a long time can break it up and turn it into a gooey solution. 

If you eat chia seeds raw, then you need to soak them in water for a few minutes. 

In contrast, if you want to use chia seeds as a thickener without exploiting much of its health benefits, then it can be boiled without hassle. 

To use chia seeds to thicken stews and soups, add 2-4 teaspoons of chia seeds to your soup, gravy, or stew, and let it sit for 10-30 minutes. Use low heat to boil for a few minutes and stir frequently to prevent clumps from forming. 

Let us look at a couple of recipes where you can boil chia seed and make a dish out of it:

Follow the instructions below to make chia pudding;

To make chia pudding, take 3 cups of water, and put it in a pan.                                                                                Take ¼ cup of chia seeds and add them to the pan of water.                                                                                                    Bring the pan to a stove and stir while it heats. Let it simmer as it takes on a thick consistency. Take it off of the heat until you are satisfied with the texture.

 Follow the instructions below to make hot cereal;

  If you plan to boil the chia seeds, then another way is to make a hot cereal. To make cereal, take bring 3 cups of milk to boil.                                                                                                                                          Add ¼ cup of chia seeds, ½ teaspoon of butter, and ½ teaspoon of salt.                                                          Let the mixture boil for 12 minutes while stirring every few minutes. Add some nuts, honey, or sugar and serve while it is still hot.

 What are the benefits of eating chia seeds?

Chia seeds originate from Central America and are known and used for their extraordinary nutritional benefits and characteristics. Let us elaborate on the health benefits of eating chia seeds. 

  1. High Fiber 

 Fiber aids in bowel movements and wards off conditions like diverticulosis. Chia seeds contain approximately 30–34 g dietary fiber, of which the insoluble fraction (IDF) accounts for approximately 85–93%, while soluble dietary fiber (SDF) is approximately 7–15%. In terms of dietary fiber content, chia seeds exceed dried fruits, cereals or nuts (4).

It also helps with weight loss, gut problems, and heart diseases. Scientific studies correlate the consumption of fiber with a decrease in triglycerides, insulin resistance, and weight gain (4).

2. Proteins and Healthy Fats

Chia seeds also carry generous amounts of proteins, hence making them an excellent plant-based source. 14 percent of chia seeds are proteins that are quite necessary for the repair and production of new cells. Analyses of the amino acid composition confirmed the presence of 10 exogenous amino acids, among which the greatest contents were for arginine, leucine, phenylalanine, valine and lysine. Proteins in chia seeds are also rich in endogenous amino acids, mainly glutamic and aspartic acids, alanine, serine and glycine (4).

Chia seeds also come with alpha-linolenic acid or omega-3 fatty acids that benefit mental health, the reproductive, and the circulatory system. The plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acid is also desirable as it fights many ailments including weak bones and joints, asthma, cancer, and heart diseases (4).

 2. Minerals and Vitamins

Chia seeds are a good source of potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, and phosphorous. Chia also possesses zinc, vitamin B1, and B2 in moderate quantities. Hence chia seeds are a great supplement for you if you want healthy bones and joints (4,5). 

3. Antioxidants

Chia seeds have antioxidants called quercetin, a polyphenol. Antioxidants are chemicals that combat free radicals in the body. As cells metabolize, they release free radicals that damage tissues and are responsible for causing cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other inflammatory diseases. Other polyphenols present in chia seeds are polyphenols: gallic, caffeic, chlorogenic, cinnamic and ferulic acids, kaempferol, epicatechin, rutin, apigenin and p-coumaric acid (4).

 Inflammatory diseases are linked to heart diseases and cancer. Hence, chia as a supplementary source in your diet can help to combat certain potential health problems (5).

Other FAQs about Chia seeds that you may be interested in.

Is it safe to eat chia seeds every day?

Can you eat chia seeds when pregnant?

Can you eat chia seeds without soaking them?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you boil chia seeds? We discussed the correct procedure to boil chia seeds that retains their best texture and properties. We also discussed the health benefits of consuming chia seeds. 

Citations

  1. Peña-Lévano, Luis, Colton Adams, and Shaheer Burney. Latin America’s Superfood Economy: Producing and Marketing Açaí, Chia Seeds, and Maca Root. Choices, 2021, 35, 145.
  2. Ghafoor, Kashif, et al. The effect of boiling, germination and roasting on bioactive properties, phenolic compounds, fatty acids and minerals of chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) and oils. Int J Gastro Food Sci, 2022, 27, 100447.
  3. Muñoz, Loreto A., et al. Chia seeds: Microstructure, mucilage extraction and hydration. J food Eng, 2012, 108, 216-224.
  4. Kulczyński, Bartosz, et al. The chemical composition and nutritional value of chia seeds—Current state of knowledge. Nutrients, 2019, 11, 1242.
  5. Nieman, David C., et al. Chia seed supplementation and disease risk factors in overweight women: a metabolomics investigation. J altern complem Med, 2012, 18, 700-708.