Last year my friend posted an update on her Facebook page saying she was sitting at her desk eating chia seeds. Chia seeds? As in the Chia Pet? Apparently, yes! The same seeds used to make “hair” on Chia Pets is the same stuff you can eat. Fast forward to last month when my eye doctor recommended I buy chia seeds to help with dry eyes. I went to Whole Foods only to find they are were out of the seeds in their bulk bins. Apparently, the stuff is selling like hotcakes. I ended up with a 1lb container of chia seeds from the supplement aisle and dropped $19.95 + tax to see what they are all about.

After some research, I came to realize that there might be a good reason for the hype. Salvia hispanica or chia seeds, contain more omega-3s than any other plant source, including flax! Two servings (2 tablespoons or approx 23 grams) provides:

Size Comparison: a pile of chia seeds next to a quarter

* 5 g omega-3s

*4 g protein

* 140 mg calcium

*10 g dietary fiber

*70 mg magnesium

* 12% of the iron you need in a day – that is more than the iron in spinach!

* Almost all the essential amino acids

* An antioxidant content that rivals blueberries

Chia seeds are mainly grown in South America and were used in Aztec and Mayan cultures. The seeds come in black and white varieties. The brand I purchased, Chia Factors by Natural Factors, contained both types. The seeds are extremely small (see comparison picture of quarter above) and to my delight, have very little taste . When exposed to water or saliva, a gel coating forms around the seed. This coating aids in the feeling of fullness in the body and helps to flush out the intestines. A 2007 study done on rats showed that a diet including chia seeds lowered risk of coronary heart disease.

The bottom line? If you are looking for a quick way to pack in a ton of good stuff, give chia seeds a try.  My 2 year old loves them and I’m hoping daily doses will help with my dry eyes.