Week 6: The All-Star Food You Aren’t Eating—But Should Be

By now, I know you guys are nailing your main daily sources of protein and veggies. But there’s one food I absolutely love (and for good reason) that I’m willing to bet you’re not eating on a regular basis: chia seeds.

You’re probably wondering why you should be adding these tiny pebble-like seeds to your plate. Yeah, I get it, they seem a little weird and you probably don’t know what to do with them. But despite their appearance, chia seeds pack a powerful, nutrient-dense punch.

Seriously, their macros (and micros!) are impressive. In just one ounce of chia seeds, you get:

  • 5 grams of protein
  • 5 grams of fats (much of which is omega-3s)
  • 11 grams of carbs
  • 11 grams of fiber (major win)
  • 174 mg of calcium (that’s about 17 percent of your daily needs)
  • 35 mg of iron (that’s more than 25 percent of dudes’ daily needs)
  • 87 mg of magnesium
  • 131 mg of potassium

You’ll also get some phosphorus, zinc, and a few B vitamins, including B3 (niacin), B1 (thiamine), and some B2.

Let me continue to sell you on the awesomeness of chia seeds:

  1. Chia seeds contain antioxidants, which help your body fight off free radicals. Those are the nasty particles (from pollution, smoke, or the sun’s rays) that can contribute to aging and diseases like cancer. Pound for pound, the mighty chia seed is pretty dang dense with antioxidants.
  2. You may not think of chia seeds as a main source of protein, but with 6.5 grams in an ounce, they’re an easy way to bump up that macro—especially if you don’t do much meat. They’re about 14 percent protein by weight, which is much higher than a lot of other plant protein sources. They’re also considered a ‘complete protein,’ meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids—which is something very few plant proteins can brag about.
  3. Chia Seeds are a great way to get more omega-3s into your day. I’m sure you’ve heard boatloads about how great omega-3s are for your health, but just in case you need a refresher, omegas support brain function, gut health, immune function, and heart health.
  4. As far as I’m concerned, chia seeds are the KING of fiber. This is great for anyone trying to get ripped, since fiber helps to stabilize our blood sugar and keep us feeling full for longer. Plus, fiber helps feed our gut bacteria and promote optimal gut health. Chia seeds are about 40 percent fiber by weight—which makes them one of the best fiber sources out there.

The best part? Chia seeds are surprisingly easy to integrate into your nutrition plan. You can throw them in just about everything, from smoothies to oatmeal to cereal to yogurt to juice. You can even add them into rice or other whole grain sides. Honestly, I sometimes just wash a tablespoon down straight with water. It’s quick, tasteless, and delivers nutrients straight into your system in a pinch.

If you’re not feeling creative, just follow this chia seed recipe to put those bad boys to use:

Banana Almond Butter Chia Pudding

*makes 3-5 servings

Put bananas, almond milk, vanilla, and honey in a blender and blend until smooth. Place the chia seeds in a large bowl, pour banana mix on top, and whisk together. Cover and refrigerate for four to eight hours. The longer it sits, the thicker the pudding gets. Stir well prior to serving. Garnish with almond or coconut flakes, if desired.

Are you convinced yet? Hopefully my sales pitch was enough to get you to pick up a bag and start mixing these little guys into your daily eats. So go pick up a bag! Your body will thank you.