Chia seeds are the edible seeds of Salvia hispanica, a flowering plant in the mint family. The seeds are hydrophilic, absorbing up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked and developing a mucilaginous coating that gives chia-based foods and beverages a distinctive gel texture.
Dried chia seeds contain 6% water, 42% carbohydrates, 16% protein, and 31% fat. In a 100-gram amount, chia seeds are a rich source of B-vitamins, thiamin and niacin, and a moderate source of riboflavin and folate. Several dietary minerals are in rich content, including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. The fatty acids of chia seed oil are mainly unsaturated, with linoleic acid and linolenic acid as the major fats.
Chia seeds may be sprinkled or ground up on top of other foods. Chia seeds can also be mixed into smoothies, breakfast cereals, energy bars, granola bars, yogurt, tortillas, and bread. They can be soaked in water and consumed directly or mixed with any kind of juice to make chia Fresca or with milk. Chia seed pudding, similar to tapioca pudding, is made with a type of milk, sweetener, and whole chia seeds. Chia seeds may also be ground and made into a gelatin-like substance or eaten raw. The gel from ground seeds may be used to replace as much as 25% of the egg and oil content in cakes.