Most people automatically associate chia seeds with the Chia Pet fad that swept across the nation in the 1980s, but these tiny seeds actually pack a powerful punch and just might find their way onto the list of superfoods as they continue to grow in popularity.
Natural health enthusiasts have been adding chia seeds to cereal, smoothies, salads and baked goods for years now, but the majority of folks interested in natural ways to supply our bodies with the nutrients they need are just beginning to learn about their health benefits. Once one of the most important crops grown by the Aztecs and an important part of Mayan and Aztec diets, chia seeds were later banned by the Spanish government due to their use in indigenous religious rituals. Grown primarily in Southern Mexico and other Latin American countries, the seeds are now widely available and are quickly gaining ground on other foods that offer similar health benefits, such as flaxseeds.
Chia seeds were historically used to treat ailments like joint pain and inadequate saliva production, but it is now known that they are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorous and niacin. New studies are also showing that chia seeds may be beneficial to diabetics due to their ability to slow the conversion of carbohydrates into simple sugars. Dieters can include chia seeds in their meals to feel full and stave off hunger, while athletes can benefit from their ability to absorb water and enhance hydration.
While flaxseeds offer many of the same benefits of chia seeds and are more widely known, chia seeds actually have a couple of advantages over flaxseeds that make them a better option for many folks. First off, flaxseeds need to be ground into flaxseed meal in order to aid digestion; whereas, chia seeds are digestible without grinding. Additionally, chia seeds can be stored much longer than flaxseeds without going rancid, which make them a much more convenient option for use at home and on road trips.
You can purchase chia seeds at any health food store and some larger chain grocers, but the most affordable option is usually to purchase them in the bulk food section of your favorite store. You can easily store them in a glass jar or other container at home or in your RV, and can enjoy their nutty flavor in just about any snack or meal.