Answer: Made popular by the Chia pet, these tiny black seeds offer health benefits beyond watching something green grow. Turns out chia seeds are a good source of fiber and are rich in antioxidants and ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid—even more so than flaxseed. They also provide a variety of minerals, including iron and calcium.
Once a staple food in Aztec and Mayan cultures, chia seeds have been rediscovered and are being used for their natural health benefits. They have been shown to help people with diabetes manage blood sugar and can protect heart health. There are also anecdotal reports from runners that chia seeds give them energy for long runs.
Unlike flaxseed, these seeds do not need to be ground to be useful. They are light and easily digestible raw. Sprinkle or mix a tablespoon into foods such as yogurt, cereal, salads and smoothies. Because chia seeds form a gel when added to fluid, they can also be used to thicken soups and stir-frys.