Chia seeds originated from Mexico and Guatemala, and humans have been eating them for about 5,500 years. Aztecs and Mayas people used chia seeds to prepare folk medicines, food, and even canvases. During pre-historic times in Columbian societies, chia was the second main crop after beans. Versatility aside, chief among their popularity is nutrient density: Chia seeds pack a wallop of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenolic antioxidants. They also absorb water and hold things together well, which makes chia seeds ideal for powders, nutrition bars, breads, and cookies. You can even use chia seeds as an egg substitute. You can replace one large egg in your recipe with one tablespoon of ground chia seeds and three tablespoons of water.
Chia seeds contain several components that, when eaten as part of a balanced plant-rich diet, may prevent the development of various chronic diseases. Of particular interest by researchers is chia seeds’ high content of linoleic and alpha-linolenic (ALA) fatty acids. Sixty percent of the oil in chia seeds is from these omega-3 fatty acids. However, available research has been more favorable towards a diet containing omega-3-rich foods rather than on chia seeds alone.