By now you’re probably aware that the benefits of chia seeds extend beyond their ability to help terracotta figurines sprout funny hair-dos. If this is news to you, here’s why the strange (and safe to eat) seeds deserve a shout-out: They're rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. Plus, they have small amounts of protein and calcium. Since chia seeds soak up liquid, they add volume to foods like smoothies or oatmeal without piling on a ton of extra calories.
There are so many ways to work the energy-boosting seeds into your diet, but when you're bolting out the door on your way to work or the gym, we know you don't always have time to get crafty in the kitchen. That’s why we've scoped out the best on-the-go chia seed foods. These four easy-to-eat picks pack a big punch of omega-3s and make great pre or post-workout snacks.
1) New York Superfoods Chia Peanut Butter
Plain ol’ peanut butter is a healthy, satisfying way to fill up on protein and healthy fats, but New York Superfoods’ Chia Peanut Butter ($9 for 12 ounces, nysuperfoods.com) takes that nutrition boost one step further. The souped-up PB, a simple two-ingredient blend of peanuts and chia seeds, packs more than 920 mg of omega-3s per serving. Plus, it’s lacking the salt and hydrogenated oils that you’ll find in some grocery-store nut butters. In addition to the brand’s original flavor (Gator Grit), you can also get your hands on chia peanut butter infused with chocolate (Manhattan Mud) or espresso (Buffalo Dirt).
Nutrition (original, 1.1-ounce serving): 180 calories, 15 g fat (2 g sat fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 7 g protein
2) Navitas Naturals Citrus Chia Power Snacks
Don’t limit yourself to one superfood per snack—that’s Navitas Naturals’ way of thinking. The backpack-friendly bite-size squares ($9 for 8 ounces, navitasnaturals.com) combine a slew of raw ingredients, like dates, chia seeds, cashews, apricots, and raisins—plus plant-based health boosters, like maca powder, which may naturally increase testosterone levels.
Nutrition (for 3 pieces): 120 calories, 6.4 g fat (1.6 g sat fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 2.5 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 2 g protein
3) Drink Chia
Chugging chia seeds—sounds gross, right? Well, we’ve tried it and it’s not bad at all. In fact, Drink Chia ($3, luckyvitamin.com) makes a pretty good pre-workout beverage. Because chia seeds absorb about 10 times their weight in water, getting your fix in this form can help you stay hydrated longer. The caffeine-free elixir delivers 1,100 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and comes in four fruit flavors: lemon blueberry, honeysuckle pear, strawberry citrus, and mango tangerine.
Nutrition (for 10 ounces): 50 calories, 2 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 1 g protein
4) Health Warrior Chia Bars
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, these small but mighty squares will satisfy it—the healthy way. The gluten, dairy, and soy-free bars ($24 for 15, healthwarrior.com) come in three flavors: coconut, acai berry, and chocolate peanut butter. All are between 100 and 110 calories each and deliver 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids plus filling fiber and protein.
Nutrition (for chocolate peanut butter, shown): 100 calories, 4.5 g fat (.5 g sat fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 4 g protein