Chia Seeds: The new superfood


Sound familiar? You probably recognize this theme song from the commercials played on cable television when you were a kid, advertising Chia Pets. Surprisingly enough, chia seeds are more than just some seed you plant in a funky cartoon-shaped pot.

They have also been an up-and-coming topic in the diet and nutrition world. So, what exactly are those tiny, black seeds that have become a fad in the supplement world?

Look no further, here is everything you need to know about this super food.

Q: What’s the story behind chia seeds?

A: Chia seeds are derived from a desert plant: Salvia hispanica. Chia originated in Central America and is now becoming a hot topic all around the world. Those studying chia seeds believe ancient Mayans and Aztecs were the founders of these tiny seeds. The word “chia” is actually a term from the Mayan language meaning “strength.”

Q: What’s in a chia seed?

A: They are packed with ALA – alpha lipoic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid that our body uses for vital functions such as energy production and stabilization of blood glucose levels (trust us, this is important). The seeds also contain dietary fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium and iron. With hectic work and school schedules, this superfood can be just what the typical college student needs for an extra boost of energy.

Q: What do they do for the body?

A: Chia seeds have many health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, hypertension and inflammation. The omega-3 fatty acid in chia seeds can also increase brain function. Since chia seeds are packed with nutrients, they tend to keep you full for longer and minimize sugary food cravings.

Q: How much should I use?

A: According to Central Michigan University professor and registered dietitian Leslie Hildebrandt, to get the health benefits of chia seeds (especially the ALA component), it’s recommended to consume one ounce daily, which comes to about 4 tablespoons.

Q: How do I eat them?

A: There are many different ways to use chia seeds. Add them to smoothies, sprinkle them on top of oatmeal or even salads. Chia seeds are small and don’t have much taste, so you can work them into your diet in many ways. In addition to sprinkling them, chia seeds can be ground into a flour-like substance or soaked in water as an egg alternative when baking. Walled Lake junior Delaney Dillon is an avid chia consumer.

“I love chia seeds – they are one of three health weapons that I use in my diet.”

Here is one of her favorite recipes:

Soak a tablespoon or two of chia seeds in unsweetened almond milk, 1 tablespoon cinnamon and a 1/2 cup of walnuts overnight. The chia will create a pudding texture by morning. Add in some fruit, and in no time you have a quick, easy and nutritional breakfast.

Q: Where can I buy them?

A: Chia seeds can be bought at almost any grocery store with natural foods. The best way to get the bang for your buck is to buy them it bulk. GreenTree Cooperative in Mount Pleasant has a bulk section that sells them for $1.19 per ounce or $18.95 a pound.