Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica, which is related to mint. This plant grows natively in South America. Chia seeds were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayans back in the day. They prized them for their ability to provide sustainable energy … in fact, “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.”
Despite their ancient history as a dietary staple, only recently did chia seeds become recognized as a modern day superfood. In the past few years, they have exploded in popularity and are now consumed by health conscious people all over the world.
Chia Seeds were largely unknown in North America until researcher Wayne Coates began studying chia as an alternative crop for farmers in northern Argentina about 29 years ago.
Coates started his work on chia in 1991, and since then has become an advocate of the tiny seed’s health benefits. The human trials are limited —as is often the case with food research— but the anecdotal evidence of chia’s positive health effects include boosting energy, stabilizing blood sugar, aiding digestion, and lowering cholesterol.
Chia seeds are among the healthiest foods on the planet. They are loaded with nutrients that can have important benefits for your body and brain. Chia Seeds are rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals such as:
Dietary fiber (11g – 42% recommended daily value)
Protein (4.4g – 9% RDV)
Omega-3 fatty acids (4915 mg)
Omega-6 fatty acids (1620 mg)
Calcium (77 mg – 18% RDV)
Copper (0.1 mg – 3% RDV)
Phosphorus (265 mg – 27% RDV)
Potassium (44.8 mg – 1% RDV)
Zinc (1.0 mg – 7% RDV)
Chia also contains essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid, mucin, strontium, Vitamins A, B, E, and D, and minerals including sulphur, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, niacin, thiamine, and they are a rich source of antioxidants.
This is particularly impressive when you consider that this is just a single ounce, which supplies only 137 calories and one gram of digestible carbohydrate! Just so that we’re all on the same page, 1 ounce equals 28 grams, or about 2 tablespoons.
Interestingly … if you subtract the fiber, which may not end up as usable calories for the body, chia seeds only contain 101 calories per ounce. This makes them one of the world’s best sources of several important nutrients, calorie for calorie.
You can find chia at any Whole Foods Market, health food stores, and well-stocked supermarkets like Kroger. Some of the more widely available chia seed brands include The Chia Co., Nutiva, and Bob’s Red Mill. All chia seeds are naturally vegan and gluten-free, but check the packaging if you want to buy seeds that are certified organic and non-GMO. Look for seeds that are either a speckled black or white, but not uniformly brown. The Chia Co. founder John Foss explains brown chia seeds are immature seeds that haven’t had a chance to mature properly, and this can result in fewer nutritional benefits and give the seeds a bitter taste.
How to Store
Chia seeds have a long shelf life, and will keep for several years when stored in a cool, dry place. Easy!