Struggling to find a healthier alternative to chia seeds? You are not alone.
Chia was recently labeled as an “ancient superfood” due to its high nutrient content.
But, it can be difficult to get your hands on this nutritional powerhouse.
Thankfully, there are various healthy alternatives that can provide similar benefits.
In this blog, explore the 5 best substitutes for chia seeds.
What’s Chia Seed?
Chia seeds are small, nutrient-dense superfoods thatare native to Mexico and Guatemala.
They’re a source of antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, dietary fiber and proteins.
Chia seeds can be used in smoothies and as an egg substitute; they’re also commonly eaten as a porridge or sprinkled over cereal, salads or yogurt.
The most common type of chia seed is the white-black variant with a nutty flavor.
Studies have shown that consuming chia seeds can boost heart health, reduce inflammation and improve digestion.
They’re also known for their ability to keep you feeling full for longer due to their high fiber content.
Though chia seeds are generally well tolerated by most people, some may experience side effects such as abdominal discomfort, diarrhea or nausea when consumed in large amounts.
If this occurs it is best to reduce your intake or seek medical advice from your healthcare professional before continuing to consume them.
How to Use Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are a nutrient-rich seed harvested from the Salvia hispanica plant, native to Mexico and Central America, that has become increasingly popular in recent years.
They are a good source of proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins.
Chia seeds also contain a high amount of antioxidants and have been known to help with weight loss due to their ability to absorb up to 12 times their weight in water.
Chia seeds can be used as an egg replacement when baking, as a thickening agent for soups and sauces and added to smoothies or other drinks for added nutrition.
They can also be eaten raw sprinkled on top of salads or yogurt or soaked overnight for use in breakfast porridges and puddings.
5 Best Chia Seeds Substitutes to Consider
When it comes to cooking, we all want the best ingredients to create something delicious.
But what if you’re missing that one crucial ingredient your recipe calls for? Chia seeds are an important component of many dishes, as they provide valuable nutrients and a great crunchy texture.
Fortunately, there are some great substitutes that can be used in place of chia seeds in a pinch.
Here are the five best chia seed substitutes to consider:
1 – Sesame Seeds
One of the most popular and widely available substitutes for chia seeds are sesame seeds.
As a small, dark colored seed, sesame does contain some comparable nutritional benefits to chia, although it is not as nutrient dense.
It contains about half the amount of protein and fibre, as well as two thirds less calcium than chia.
Despite this, sesame is did still provide a good source of minerals like manganese and phosphorus plus healthy fats such as omega 6 fatty acids.
Additionally, sesame has strong antioxidant activity that can help to protect against tissue damage from environmental toxins and chemicals.
2 – Flax Seeds
Flax seeds, also known as linseeds, are small brown or golden-colored seeds that are full of health benefits.
They are a great source of dietary fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Flax seeds can be eaten whole or ground into a meal called flax meal to make it easier for the body to absorb its beneficial nutrients.
Flax is an excellent substitute for chia seeds when it comes to adding texture and fiber to dishes like baked goods, soups and smoothies.
It has a mild nutty flavor that can add richness to your favorite dishes.
Additionally, flaxseed oil is often used in salads and other recipes where the addition of oil is desired but not necessary.
It is important to note that flax seed may have adverse effects on some people’s digestion due to its high fiber content if consumed in large amounts; therefore, it’s best to gradually introduce it into your diet so your body can adjust accordingly.
3 – Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are the edible seeds of the industrial hemp plant.
They contain fatty acids (like Omega-3), proteins, and fiber, making them a great nutritious powerhouse.
Hemp seeds are slightly sweet but they also have a nutty flavor.
These tiny superfoods can be used as a topping or sprinkled over salads and smoothies, or added to baked goods like muffins, breads and biscuits.
Hemp seeds can also be turned into butter, milk or flour for use in recipes.
They provide an excellent source of nutrition for vegans and vegetarians alike, being high in fiber and providing essential fatty acids which can help protect against heart disease.
4 – Psyllium Husks
Psyllium husks are derived from the seeds of a certain species of plantain that can be found growing in India.
As compared to the texture and crunchy abilities of chia seeds, psyllium husks transform into a gel when they get wet.
This difference among the two is what makes psyllium husks such a great replacement for chia seeds.
Psyllium husks not only mimic the same texture changes, but also acts as a thickening agent in many dishes, such as spreads and sauces.
While similar to chia seeds when it comes to texturizing food, psyllium husks are also packed with dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals which act as natural laxatives.
It has significantly higher amounts of dietary fiber than chia or flaxseeds do and this might be its unique selling point for those looking for alternatives for their dietary needs.
5 – Oat Bran
Oat bran is a great alternative to chia seeds since it is packed with dietary fiber, calcium, and other essential minerals.
It is not as high in protein as chia seeds, but it does provide the same nutritious benefits—namely, stabilized blood sugar and weight loss.
Oat bran can be used as an egg or dairy substitute in recipes along with having many traditional applications including breakfast bowls and smoothies.
Take care to avoid overcooking oat bran for use in recipes, as this can change its texture and mushiness.
In baking or on toast applications, oat bran takes less time to hydrate than chia—it’s ready after three minutes compared to fifteen minutes for chia seeds.
Oat bran can also be used in place of bread crumbs when making meatballs or veggie burgers.
In summary, it is important to consider the flavor and texture of a substitution when choosing one for chia seeds.
That being said, some common substitutions are poppy seeds, hemp hearts, flaxseed meal, sesame seeds, and almond meal.
Each of these provides excellent nutritional benefits that can easily replace those given by chia seeds.
They are also all highly versatile ingredients that can be used in various recipes to help add flavorful crunch or other textural qualities.
When using a substitution for chia seeds in your favorite recipes, experiment with amounts to reach the desired taste and texture.
Carrie is a food writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has worked for some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Martha Stewart Living.
As the Editor in Chief of IntroChicago.com, Carrie oversees all of the content on the site. She also manages the team of contributing writers and editors, who help to create delicious recipes, helpful tips, and informative articles that you’ll find on the site.
A native of the Chicago area, Carrie is passionate about all things food. She loves trying new restaurants and experimenting with new recipes in her kitchen. She’s also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, so she knows a thing or two about food!