How to Navigate Chia Food Labels

By Barrie Rogers, Debbie Dooly

To understand what nutrients are in chia and products containing chia, your first stop should be the Nutrition Facts label. This label tells you everything from the suggested serving size to the ingredients to how much of the various nutrients the food contains. When you understand exactly how to read a Nutrition Facts label and what to look for, you’ll be on your way to easily tracking your daily intake.

A Nutrition Facts label.

The Nutrition Facts label lists the following:

  • Serving size: How much of the food you’ll typically eat in one sitting. A typical serving size of chia is 15 g, which is approximately 2 tablespoons of seeds.

  • Servings per container: How many servings you get in the bag, box, carton, or container. The servings per container is handy when you’re comparing different size bags of chia seeds.

  • Calories: The number of calories in one serving. A 15 g serving of chia seeds is approximately 69 calories. When it comes to daily caloric intake (around 2,000 calories per day), that’s not much! That means you can add one serving of chia seeds to your day without loosening your belt.

  • Fat: The Nutrition Facts label tells you the total amount of fat in the food, as well as the amount of saturated fat and trans fat (the bad kinds). Some labels also tell you the amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (the good kinds). Chia has no trans fat and less than 0.5 g of saturated fat per serving, which is a tiny amount.

  • Cholesterol: Chia contains no cholesterol. In fact, it actually helps in the fight to reduce blood cholesterol levels!

  • Sodium: Chia has no sodium, so you can be confident you’re not adding to your sodium intake when you consume chia.

  • Carbohydrate: Carbohydrates provide the body with energy, but not all carbohydrates are created equal. Refined carbohydrates, such as the type found in white breads, cereals, or pasta, are not the healthiest carbohydrates; they should be eaten only in small amounts. Lucky for you, chia is not a refined carbohydrate.

    Under the amount of total carbohydrate, you’ll see the following:

    • Dietary fiber: Chia contains 5 g of fiber per serving, but what’s even better is that chia contains both soluble and insoluble fiber; the latter is needed for good digestive health.

    • Sugars: Added sugar is proving to be detrimental to health and is thought to be one of the leading causes of the rising rates of obesity worldwide. Chia contains no sugar, so you don’t need to worry about adding sugar to your diet with chia.

      Be careful when purchasing food products containing chia. Although there are no added sugars in chia seeds alone, the products containing chia may have plenty added sugars. Read the label to know what you’re getting.

  • Protein: Chia contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete high-quality protein. Protein is a very important factor when assessing the nutritional profile of chia. Each serving has 3.1 g of this high-quality meat-free protein. Because of how much protein it has, chia can serve as an alternative to soy in vegetarian diets.

At the bottom of the food label, you see a list of some vitamins and minerals, and the Percent Daily Values that the food contains. So, for example, if the label lists vitamin A and says it has 10 percent, that means that one serving of the food gives you 10 percent of the vitamin A you should get every day.

Chia contains many vitamins and minerals. Here’s why vitamins and minerals are important for your health and info on some of the vitamins and minerals chia contains:

  • Vitamins: Vitamins are essential for normal growth and body functions. You have to ingest them (through food or supplements) because the body can’t produce enough of them on its own.

    The vitamins that are listed on the chia food label are

    • Vitamin A: Vitamin A is important for growth and development and for the maintenance of the immune system. It’s also important for good vision. One 15 g serving of chia provides 1.08 percent of the vitamin A you need daily.

    • Vitamin C: Vitamin C supports normal growth and development and helps your body absorb iron. One 15 g serving of chia provides you with 2.7 percent of the vitamin C you need every day.

  • Minerals: Minerals work alongside other nutrients to help your body function properly and stay healthy. Similar to vitamins, you need to ingest them (through food or supplements). Chia contains many minerals, but only calcium, iron, and magnesium are listed on the Nutrition Facts label (see the next section for what’s not on the label).

    • Calcium: Calcium is needed for bone development and is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth. It also prevents osteoporosis (a disease in which bones become more brittle and likely to break), which affects many people, particularly women, as they age. One 15 g serving of chia provides 8.5 percent of the calcium you need every day.

    • Iron: Your body needs iron for the delivery of oxygen to cells. Lack of iron can result in fatigue and decreased immunity. One 15 g serving of chia provides 5.8 percent of the iron you need daily.

    • Magnesium: Magnesium is needed for almost all body functions, from energy production and enzyme activation to the regulation of other nutrient levels. Teeth, bones, the heart, kidneys, and muscles all need magnesium to function. One 15 g serving of chia provides 12.6 percent of the magnesium you need every day.