Rich in a number of vital nutrients, chia seeds are a heart healthy food that provides a natural boost of energy.

Chia? You mean that fuzzy plant?

As a matter of fact, yes. Although chia seeds are used as fun, playful items, they are also edible and extremely nutritious. Chia, or Salvia hispanica, is a species of flowering plant related to mint. This tiny seed measures just 2 millimeters long but packs a powerful punch of nutrients and health benefits to go along with a pleasant, nutty flavor.

Native to Argentina, Paraguay and Mexico, chia seeds originated as a food source for the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. The word chia means strength, and both cultures used the seed as an energy booster, making chia the perfect nutritious addition to a variety of healthy dishes.

Each 3-tablespoon serving of chia seeds contains just 160 calories and is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Add to that chia’s 5 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber, 20 percent of your daily value of calcium and iron, 10 percent of your daily value of vitamin A, and 8 percent of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C, and youll find it easy to include a serving with every meal.

Studies suggest that eating chia slows down how quickly our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, making the seed a perfect meal add-in for diabetics. The seeds can also assist with overeating issues. Chia helps you feel fuller longer, while blocking a small amount of calorie absorption due to its gelling tendency within the GI tract.

Chia also helps the body stay hydrated by absorbing liquid, making it a popular choice for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. To top it off, chia contains more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon, establishing the seed as a true heart-healthy food.

Did you know?

A serving of chia seeds contains more nutrients than many popular health foods:

100% more potassium than a banana
200% more iron than spinach
300% more selenium than flax seeds
500% more calcium than whole milk
600% more omega-3 than wild salmon
1,400% more magnesium than broccoli

Need a Superfood recipe? Try one of these:

Holy (chia) guacamole

Spicy vegan burgers

Nutty agave granola

All day energy bars

Vanilla chia pudding parfaits

Lemon chia seed muffins

Chia seed crackers