According to the American Society for Nutrition, chia seeds provide soluble fiber that helps to digestive process in the body and prevents constipation. Chia seeds are rich in protein, healthy fats, minerals, and cell-protecting antioxidants.
They are easily available in most grocery stores but may be costly in some regions.
You may want to find a chia seed substitute to use in your soups, stews or baked goods for some reason or other. This article is going to reveal to you the best chia seed replacements you can add to your foods’ list.
What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica, which is related to mint. Chia is native to Mexico and the southwestern United States; now widely cultivated in many parts of the world.
Many health experts consider chia seeds to be a ‘superfood’ as they contain an ample amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and quality fiber. Most of all, the tiny white and black seeds are great for you to lose weight and reduce belly fat.
You’ll find black and white varieties of chia seeds generally sold whole. Also, ground chia seeds, roasted chia seeds, and chia seed fiber are available for buying.
Chia seeds have a mild, nutty flavor that works well to complement both sweet and savory dishes.
What’s A Good Chia Seed Substitute?
Chia seeds are filled with a wide range of essential nutrients and high-quality fiber. Because of their high nutritional value, many consider chia seeds to be a ‘superfood’.
I’m sure that you might already be using chia seeds in your yogurt, smoothies, baked goods, or for drizzling them over any vegetable dishes.
In case, you don’t have them or did not like them, consider one of the suitable chia seeds alternatives listed below.
1. Flax seeds
Flax, also known as linseed, is a flowering plant, Linum usitatissimum, in the family Linaceae. Flax seeds come in golden and brown varieties with a mild nutty taste. They are rich in fiber and a wide array of essential nutrients.
Just like the chia seeds, when flax seeds are soaked in water, the mucilage forms a thick gel around the seeds. Both chia and flax seeds are considered to be a good alternative to eggs because of their mucilage. Both these seeds have similar nutritional value and fiber content.
Using ground flax seeds provide maximum health benefits, unlike chia seeds that are used whole. Chia seeds have a neutral flavor when added to a recipe. When using flax seeds as a substitute for chia seeds, they might add a mild nutty flavor to your recipe.
Use 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds to replace two tablespoons of whole chia seeds.
2. Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are very different from chia and flax seeds. In fact, hemp is a type of cannabis plant like marijuana.
Hemp seeds contain only 0.3 percent or less THC, while marijuana contains more than 0.3 percent THC. Therefore, hemp seeds do not produce any mental effects that marijuana produces.
Flax and chia seeds are mucilaginous but hemp seeds are not. Hemp seeds don’t have the soluble fiber like the chia seeds.
What makes hemp seeds a suitable replacement for chia seeds is their similarity in nutritional content. Both are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and protein. In addition, hemp has a lot more omega 6 fatty acids than chia and flax seeds.
It’s possible to include hemp seeds in most of the recipes that call for chia seeds and use them in the same manner. However, hemp seeds have a well-pronounced nutty flavor like a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut. The flavor of this seed may slightly alter the taste of your recipe.
Use hemp seeds in a 1:1 ratio to replace chia seeds.
3. Wheat germ
Wheat germ is part of a wheat kernel. It is responsible for helping the plant to reproduce and spawn a new wheat plant.
Wheat germ is a nice replacement for chia and flax seeds because of their nutritional similarity. Besides, it contains a significant amount of quality fiber that is enough to meet your daily fiber requirement. It’s a great source of vegetable proteins and healthy fats as in chia seeds.
As for differences, wheat germ lacks the crunch of chia seeds and also cannot be used as a substitute for eggs.
4. Psyllium husks
Many use chia seeds for the benefit of the soluble fiber contained in them. If you are looking for a fibrous alternative, then Psyllium husk is a good replacement for chia seeds.
Psyllium husks are the outer coating of the seeds of the Plantago Ovata plant. This husk contains more soluble fiber than chia seeds.
Just like the chia seeds, Psyllium husks can also be used as a vegan egg alternative and thickening agent. One tablespoon of the husks diluted with two tablespoons of water can replace 1 egg.
Of course, it does not have many nutritional benefits that chia seeds offer.
5. Tapioca starch
Tapioca starch is another good option for replacing chia seeds used as an egg substitute. It’s an effective thickener made from the roots of the cassava plant.
You can’t use it in place of chia seeds in your usual chia dishes as it does not match them in flavor, nutrition, or texture. If you don’t have chia seeds to substitute eggs, then use tapioca starch instead.
The Bottom Line
Chia seeds are known for their rich nutritional benefits, fiber content, and as a thickening agent in food processing.
The best substitutes for chia seeds are flax seeds and hemp seeds. If you’re looking for an equally beneficial fiber-rich ingredient to replace chia seeds then go for Psyllium husks.
As a food thickener, use tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, or cornstarch instead of chia seeds.