What are chia seeds?

History of Chia

Salvia hispanica, or Chia is a flowering plant native to Mexico and Guatemala. It is now grown predominantly in Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, and Australia.. The seeds from the plant (chia seeds) date back to the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas. Their warriors have recognized chia's exceptional energy and stamina promoting attributes.  Known as the "running food," Aztec warriors were exclusively fueled by chia seeds and water during conquests.  The Aztecs treasured the seed so much that they would deliver it to their king in homage. The Tarahumara people of Mexico who were mentioned in "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall, use chia to make iskiate or "chia fresca". They use the drink to fuel their traditional 200 mile runs through their homeland of rough canyon country.   Their simple recipe for iskiate; chia seeds, water, light sugar, and a splash of lime.

Health Benefits of Chia

 The miniature kernels are a complete protein, having twice the protein of any other seed or grain.  Due to its high level of easily digestible protein, omega-3 oils, and abundant fiber, chia has become a staple food for runners everywhere.  Diabetics enjoy chia seeds because they help stabilize blood sugar levels.  Weight loss has been attributed to the seeds because they easily bulk up food without changing the taste. Because the carbohydrates are released incredibly slow, they make people feel fuller longer.  They also help keep the body hydrated and the electrolytes balanced, so they are the perfect foods for athletes.  Chia seeds are packed with calcium, and they also contain boron which is a trace mineral that helps calcium get into your bones.  The super seed has serious antioxidant properties; in fact, it has 3 times more antioxidant activity than blueberries. This allows you to fight disease and defy age naturally.  Chias have 3x more iron than spinach, which is needed to carry oxygen from the lungs into the muscles and organs.  These little super food seeds have incredibly high levels of omega 3 and omega 6, both of which are essential for brain function, reversing depression, and overall health. Because of its high amount of good fat, it manages to survive and thrive without any chemical interference.

Need one more benefit?  The bugs never touch it, so it needs absolutely no pesticides.

My Personal Use

I have just recently begun incorporating chia into my diet.  I use it pre-run, run, and post-run.  If it's good enough for the Tarahumara people (the greatest runners to ever live) then I'm gonna use it.  In fact, I mix it pretty much like they do.  One alteration I make (when money allows) is swapping plain water for coconut water or a mix of the two.  Before heading out on my long runs of 15 miles or more I fill up my water bottle with a third coconut water, a couple scoops of chia seeds, and top it off with filtered water.  Sometimes I add in the lime juice and a couple pieces of ice on hot days.   Let the mix sit for about 5 minutes before drinking.  With my super drink and a few medjool dates, I am good to go!

You can also use chia to create some amazingly delicious pudding. Check out my Plum Crazy Pudding recipe to learn how!

I am always interested to hear how others are using chia.  Comment below to add your ideas and recipes.  Happy running!


  1. I started adding Chia Seeds to my diet about a month ago always in a drink and then 1 week ago was stricken with 3 kidney stones... My only dietary change was adding the chia seeds, have you read anything on that?

  2. Hey Crystal,

    I am so sorry to hear about your kidney stones. I have not heard of any other cases where chia seeds have caused stones. You have certainly peaked my interest though, and I will be looking to see if I can find such cases. Did your doctor believe that there was a correlation between the seeds and the stones?

    Here is a snippet of information that I found from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov :

    Kidney stones can form when substances in the urine—such as calcium,
    oxalate, and phosphorus—become highly concentrated. Certain foods may
    promote stone formation in people who are susceptible, but scientists do
    not believe that eating any specific food causes stones to form in
    people who are not susceptible. People who do not drink enough fluids
    may also be at higher risk, as their urine is more concentrated.

    That being stated, a serving of chia seeds has 18 percent of the recommended daily intake for calcium and 27 percent of your daily value for phosphorus. Have you had kidney stones in the past? How much chia were you using daily? The answers to these questions may pinpoint what brought on these stones. Again, I'm sorry to hear that you've gone through the pain of having these stones and thank you for bringing it to our attention.


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