Chia seeds have been popping up in grocery stores all over the place – and they’re not always confined to the health food section anymore. Chia seeds are the same seeds that you could mix with water and spread over a small, terracotta animal to make a trendy “chia pet” back in the 1980s, but today they are gaining popularity for nutritional benefits, as well.
Chia seeds are the seeds from the salvia hispanica plant, or chia plant, a flowering herb that is in the mint family. The seeds are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is primarily what makes them popular as a nutritional supplement, though they are also high in fiber, protein and other nutrients, as well. The seeds are quite small – usually no larger than a millimeter in diameter – and have a mottled greyish color to them.
Unlike flax seeds, which are also a popular source of omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are much more easily digestible and do not have to be ground for their nutrients to be absorbed by the body. They also have a longer shelf life and are less likely to become rancid than flax seeds are.