1. They're A Compact Source of Nutrition
Don't let their small stature fool you. Chia seeds are chock-full of omega-3 fats, with an estimated 5 grams per ounce. Why are omegas so essential? The body uses them to maintain brain and nerve function and build new cells, among other important tasks.
These robust little seeds are also an excellent source of protein, fiber, antioxidants and calcium and can be digested whole, as opposed to flax seeds which need to be ground first in order to "unlock" their nutritional benefits.
2. They're The Strongest Seed On The Block
At a mere 1mm (0.039 in) in size, chia seeds can absorb up to 12 times their weight in liquid! "Chia" was also the Myan word for "strength," appropriate considering its use as a natural energy source by this early Mesoamerican civilization.
3. Like Magic, They Gelatinize In Liquid
When chia seeds are soaked, them form a unique gelatinous coating that's useful in many recipes. Soaking times range from 15 minutes to overnight, so don't be afraid to experiment and find your ideal texture. Chia seed pudding is a crowd favorite, with thousands of tempting recipes online.
Chia seeds also make a great egg substitute for vegan recipes - simply mix 1 Tbsp chia seeds with 3 Tbsp water and let it sit for 15 minutes.
4. They May Help You Feel Fuller, Longer
Chia's protein and fiber content, mixed with its ability to expand in liquid, is thought to promote a feeling of satiety (fullness), which may help decrease cravings in-between meals.
5. They Can Be Added to Virtually Anything
To significantly boost nutrition, toss some chia seeds into anything and everything. They won't influence the flavors of your food, but will add a nice bit of crunch and texture (when dry), and a wonderful gelatin-like mouthfeel (when soaked). They're a popular addition to salads, cereals, energy bars and smoothies.
The ever-popular chia pet is sold and gifted to over 500,000 people each holiday season. This iconic cultural sensation was also included in the New York Times time capsule, to be opened in the year 3,000 with a Purple Heart medal, a can of Spam and a Betty Crocker Cookbook.
Wikipedia, Salvia hispanica, found here
Web MD, The Truth about Chia, found here
Web MD, Understanding the Omega Fatty Acids, found here
healthyeating.sfgate.com, Top 10 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds, found here
huffingtonpost.ca, Chia Seed Benefits: 10 Reasons to Add Chia to your Diet, found here
Smithsonian.com, Chia Pet, found here