Ten years ago, the Harvard Heart Letter published a story about the potential health benefits of chia seeds. At the time, people were more familiar with the ceramic figures known as Chia Pets (see www.chia.com) than the idea of chia seeds as a health food. But today, you can find these nutritious seeds in major grocery stores, sold in packages or in products such as crackers, cereals, energy bars, and beverages.
The small, black seeds are among the richest plant sources of the omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Diets high in ALA have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Chia seeds are also high in insoluble fiber, which may help lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels.
Because chia seeds don't have much flavor, you can add them to different foods such as cereals, yogurts, or soups for a stealthy nutrient boost. When added to liquid, the seeds develop a gelatin-like texture, so they're often used to make healthy puddings. Stir a quarter-cup of chia seeds into a cup of milk (almond, soy, and dairy all work). Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Add berries, nuts, cinnamon, and a touch of sweetener, if you like.
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