If you read health and fitness blogs and stay up-to-date on the latest wellbeing trends, chances are you've heard of the health benefits of chia seeds. Chia can contribute greatly to a balanced lifestyle by improving heart health, regulating blood sugar levels, and giving a general energy boost, making them an excellent pre-workout ingredient.
They feature antioxidants as well as a whole host of nutrients, including calcium, fiber and protein. The versatility of these seeds is a big part of their appeal, making them easy to incorporate into a wide variety of meals and snacks, from smoothies to desserts. But before you run to your nearest health shop, let's have a look at what they are and what makes them so good for us.
These edible black and white seeds come from Salvia hispanica, a desert plant and member of the mint family that grows across Central and South America. People have been documenting the health benefits of chia seeds for a long time—there's evidence that they've been around for centuries and were eaten by Mayan and Aztec civilizations. These ancient communities celebrated the energy-giving properties of the seeds and named them chia after the Mayan word for strength—which goes to show just how highly regarded this superfood was.
The Mayans weren't the only ones who knew the potential of chia seeds. The Tarahumara people from Mexico turned to chia to sustain them on incredibly long runs, sometimes hundreds of miles at a time. Their secret was a drink called iskiate—a mixture of chia seed, water, and lemon—that they attribute to giving them the energy and stamina to last seemingly impossible distances.
Today, you can add the health benefits of chia seeds to your nutrition and fitness regimen by purchasing them from your local health-food stores and increasingly, regular supermarkets. Their popularity in health-conscious circles means that they're getting easier to find. Plus, there are plenty of recipes to try (especially in the 8fit app!), so why not make a healthy change and start experimenting with chia today?