Chia seeds are a good source of several dietary nutrients, including calcium, iron, and magnesium. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids that help to raise a person's HDL cholesterol levels. One ounce of chia seeds also provides 10 grams of fiber.
The high content of fiber and omega-3s could make chia seeds beneficial for individuals with heart disease because of their ability to raise good cholesterol. They have also been shown to have a positive effect on high blood pressure, according to Medical News Today.
Chia seeds' fiber content is also said to promote regularity and prevent constipation. Chia seeds may also decrease the number of flare-ups in persons with diverticulitis.
While formal studies on the health benefits of chia seeds are limited, a large amount of anecdotal information does exist, including claims of chia's ability to boost energy, support digestion, lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.
The chia seed comes from a flowering plant from the mint family that originated in Mexico and Guatemala. It was an important food crop for the Aztecs and Mayans. "Chia" is the ancient Mayan word for "strength," and the chia plant has remained a common crop in its native countries. It first become known in North America in 1991, when researcher Wayne Coates began to study the crop as an alternative for northern Argentinean farmers.
The seeds of the chia plant come in either white, dark brown or black. The seeds may be eaten whole or milled. They are tasteless, which makes them easy to incorporate into other foods for a boost of nutrition. Chia seeds are commonly added to smoothies, cereals, yogurt, toast and salads.