Before we get down to why chia—an edible seed that comes from the desert plant salvia hispanica—is packed with things that will make your body incredibly happy and healthy, let’s get this out of the way:
Yes, it’s the same plant that launched those ridiculously laughable ‘80s and ‘90s novelties, chia pets. But don’t let that stop you from loving chia. It’s not the seeds’ fault that they got made into something so silly. And in fact, when it comes to making and keeping you healthy as a food, chia is pretty darn serious.
Grown in Mexico all the way back to Mayan and Aztec cultures, chia was (at least if you believe the legends) an energy-fuel for their pyramid-building ventures. It’s said they were prized for their ability to provide sustainable energy… which would make sense since, in fact, ‘chia’ is the ancient Mayan word for ‘strength.’
And no wonder. Chia is loaded with antioxidants that fight the production of free radicals that can damage molecules in cells and contribute to aging and serious diseases like cancer.
If you’re a vegetarian, chia seeds have your back—they’re a big source of protein. (And, bonus: they don’t have any cholesterol.) They also contain a good balance of essential amino acids, so our bodies can more easily make use of the protein in them. Let’s also not forget: Protein is the most weight loss-friendly nutrient in the diet, by far.
One serving of chia seeds, or 28 grams, has 30 percent of your recommended intake of the mineral manganese. Though not a well-known nutrient, it’s important for good health; it’s great for your bones and helps your body use other essential nutrients like biotin and thiamin.
On the fiber front, just a one-ounce serving of chia has 11 grams of dietary fiber, which is important for digestive health. That means that adding some chia to your diet is an easy way to make sure you’re getting a good amount.
Meanwhile, it’s a stock-up of Omega-3. With nearly five grams in a one-ounce serving (and more Omega-3s than salmon, gram for gram), chia seeds deliver fats that are important for brain health.
And if all that isn’t enough, many health experts believe that chia seeds help with weight loss. The fiber absorbs large amounts of water and expands in the stomach, which can increase fullness and slow the absorption of food
So, ready to load up on all of the above benefits? Add a scoop of chia seeds into any of our nutrient-dense smoothies for energy. They’re also pretty amazing in D.I.Y trail mixes. As we transition from summer to fall and approach this busy time of the year, you’ll need it more than ever!