Chia seeds are considered a “super food” for all intents and purposes…but that’s erroneous for the moment. What matters is understanding how chia seeds can benefit you and how they can deliver optimal nutrition. All in all, here are 10 great reasons why chia seeds are a great vegan protein alternative to beef. (NOTE: All the reasons below compare 2oz of ground beef to 2 oz of raw, unsprouted chia seeds.)

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#1. Chia has less fat!
According to the USDA 2oz or 56.7g of both chia seeds and beef contain almost the same amount of total fat! (Surprising, right?). However, chia seeds contain less saturated fat and trans fats than grass fed ground beef.

beef fast

chia fats
As you can clearly see are lower in cholesterol too. In fact, chia seeds have zero cholesterol. It’s important to know that cholesterol is important for the production of hormones in the body and the liver produces enough for us…in most cases.
#2. Chia has almost equal grams of total protein.
Chia contains 9.38g compared to beef’s 11.01g of protein per 2oz or 56.7g serving. That means beef has only about 18% more protein per serving. Pretty close…nothing an additional teaspoon or two of chia can’t fix…
According to the USDA, chia will even provide DOUBLE the amount of “energy kcal units” than beef. Yay! Now you can go, go, go! Good way to avoid the “-itis”…
#3. You can’t make a TASTY sweet treat with beef.
That’s not entirely true, that is if you consider “mince meat pie” a tasty dessert treat. A traditional meat pie is made of minced up meat combined with marrow, fruit, sugar and alcohol. These pies were once a party favorite at festive holidays but were banned due to their association with “a pagan celebration of gluttony and drunkenness” …hmmmn, interesting.

With chia seeds you can make all kinds of protein filled tasty pies, puddings and even parfaits… without any marrow. Though the alcohol might add an interesting flavor. Anyway, one benefit you can count on with chia seeds, you don’t have to worry about chia seeds being associated with any religious conflicts during the holidays.

#4. Chia can transform into something alive!
Unlike with ground beef, you can add a little bit of water and watch your chia seeds actually grow into something else that’s edible – chia sprouts! Surely you remember one famous jingle from the TV infomercials in the 80’s…”ch-ch-ch-chia”?

With chia seeds all you have to do is give them a little water and then watch them sprout into living green chia sprouts that are packed with nutrition. (You probably don’t want to try this with ground beef.) But, speaking of nutrition….

#5. Chia seeds contain more minerals.
If you’re concerned you’re not getting sufficient minerals in your foods, you’re definitely not alone. That’s a realistic concern given the minerally depleted conditions in much of the soil where our food grows, but chia seeds are NOT to be overlooked.

Let’s look at the minerals found in beef first. Beef contains 7 important minerals the body needs including Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Sodium and Zinc.


As you can see below, chia seeds contain significantly higher quantities of those same minerals. Yet chia seeds also contain minerals like Manganese, Copper and Selenium which are vital to good overall health.

Copper is necessary for Iron absorption and help form elastin that helps keep you looking young. Selenium helps protect cell membranes and Manganese is essential for the breaking down of amino acids.
#6. You can’t turn beef into flour or eggs.
Even though we’re talking about ground beef there’s no such thing as beef flour…but there IS such a thing as chia seed flour!

People are figuring out fantastic ways to use chia seeds. Just milling them into flour has opened up a whole new gluten-free world of tasty treats. Chia flour also increases hydration in vegan baked goods like muffins, cakes, crackers and cookies – that way they are nice and moist.

You can also use chia flour as an “egg substitute” in those same baked goods. Sorry, but I don’t know any ground beef that can be turned into tasty gluten free cakes. I mean, there are “beefcakes” but that’s a different type of treat.

Speaking of different…

#7. You can use chia flour to “dredge” your chicken.
I feel like this post is turning into some weird appropriation of ingredients, but you must agree, it’s better to bread your chicken with chia flour than with beef.

Now that you know you can grind up some chia seeds into chia flour, you can use that flour to make savory stuff too. Just use it in place of regular flour – in this case your “dredge”. Who doesn’t love a gluten-free fried chicken wing?

#8. Chia seeds do polyunsaturated fats like a boss!
Omega-3 fatty acids aka polyunsaturated fats are well known for reducing the risks of heart attacks. You’ll see below that ground beef polyunsaturated fats are pretty low…below 1g.

But chia seeds. They’re a different story.



I know we’re talking about ground beef but chia seeds contain twice the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids found in tuna for the same size serving…(we’re still talking about 2oz.) I’d say, that’s pretty impressive.
#9. Chia seeds will thicken…anything!
I guess if you soak ground beef in water and blend it up it will thicken stuff too….ummm, but that would be disgusting. Pardon my judgment – I just wouldn’t do that. Ever.

If you wouldn’t either, fortunately you can soak 2oz of chia seeds in water (1:1 ratio) and watch them expand into a gelatinous-like goo. Totally fascinating.

You can add them to your smoothie, swollen in globs so they float around in your drink. Or if you don’t like little “caviar roe” like seeds swirling around your mouth and getting stuck between your teeth, you can use them to thicken your smoothies and soups. You can even make delicious puddings with sprouted chia seeds. That way you can avoid eating any gelatin from animal hooves. Bonus!

#10. Chia seeds are a super food!
Yes, chia seeds (both black and white ones) are considered “superfoods”. And neither has a color complex. They are both super!

Anyway, many of the reasons why these little seeds are considered a part of the “super food” category is because as you’ve just learned, they are a dense nutritional source delivering nutrients that may be otherwise difficult to consume with the Standard American Diet.

Yes, chia seeds will get stuck in your teeth. Yes they will get everywhere if you spill them. Yes they are almost twice the price of beef per pound – even though the price of beef has doubled in the past 10 years.

Difference is, you’ll be lucky if you can get 2-3 servings out of one pound of ground beef. Chia seeds will provide all these benefits for many more servings than you could ever eek out of ground beef!

So there you have it…
These are just my findings. Feel free to do your own research on vegan protein alternatives. This teeny one just happens to be pretty tasty and also packs a powerful punch!

I guess if you really wanted to “beef UP” your burger, add the chia seeds to the beef! Don’t call me crazy for that one. I just searched “chia seed patty”. You’ll see it. Someone else created that masterpiece and called it a “Circus Burger”. Apropos.


Need a chia seed recipe?

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February 3, 2016