On a recent weekend away, a friend introduced me to chia seeds, and told me all about the benefits. She's a big believer in these tiny, off-white seeds that neither smell nor taste strong.
I had never heard of them before so decided to do a little research. It turns out they are a new concept to a lot of people.
Are they some newly-discovered seed, I wanted to know? How have so many people not heard of them before?
Why are they so good for us?
I came home to do a little research on them and now seem to be seeing information on them everywhere, with accompanying raves, not to mention the relief for many that they are gluten-free.
The packet that I came home with, courtesy of my friend, is an organic pack of white chia seeds which, according to the back of the packet, were used by Aztec warriors who "would consume a mixture of Chia and water during hunting trips to endure stamina and performance."
So they certainly aren't newly discovered!
Chia seeds do have great nutritional qualities to them, including being packed with omega-3 essential fatty acids, calcium, iron and lots of fiber -- which we're often told Americans are lacking in their diet.
And one of the best benefits of chia seeds is great for people like me -- vegetarians, who need to seek out omega-3 fatty acid-filled foods that we are not getting from foods like fish.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids that the body cannot make by itself are important for brain function and also linked to helping with depression.
According to an EmpowHER article, "Improving Your Brain Health with Omega-3 Fatty Acids" by Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch, "...not having enough omega-3 fatty acids can cause some health problems. For example, symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include poor circulation, poor memory, fatigue, dry skin, mood swings and heart problems."
Fiber is necessary for good digestive health and anyone with poor digestive health can attest to how painful and troublesome it can be.
The Harvard School of Public Health states that people should be consuming 25-35 grams of fiber a day, yet the average American only consumes about 15 grams per day.