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6 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Chia Seeds

Ch-ch-ch-chia seeds have grown from a kitsch cultural phenomenon to health superfood, seemingly overnight.

Ch-ch-ch-chia seeds have grown from a kitsch cultural phenomenon to health superfood, seemingly overnight. But there’s a lot more to know about these spreadable, edible sprouting seeds.

While there are many fascinating facts here, let’s get the most glaring one out of the way…

1. Yes, They’re the Same Seeds from Chia Pets

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Wait for just a second, that’s not a real chia pet. Photo: @unklechip / Instagram

Back in 1977, a bunch of rabbit food-subsiding hippies in San Francisco created the first “Chia Guy” to help grow seeds. Though they knew about the power of these greens, the terracotta sprouting novelty was what caught major business attention. By 1982, the first commercially available Chia Pet was sold using the infamous time lapse ad campaigns.

__2. Spanish Conquistadores Nearly Wiped Out Chia Seeds __

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“No one will ever find these chia seeds if we stash 'em in a bunch of spinach!” Photo: Joy / Flickr

Blame Spanish Conquistadores for obscuring the health benefits of chia seeds. As they took over the land of America’s indigenous peoples, the colonists also sought to eradicate their cultures.

While chia was a staple food of Mayans and even currency for Aztecs, the seeds were nearly wiped out centuries ago. Fortunately, someone managed to squirrel some away, and they’ve slowly regained their superfood reputation over the past 20 years.

3. The Mexican State Of Chiapas Gets Its Name From Chia Seeds

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Chia sage! Photo: Dick Culbert / Flickr

Mexico’s southernmost state, Chiapas, was originally called Chiapan which translates roughly to, “River where the chia sage grows.”

4. A Chia Seed Can Absorb 12 Times Its Weight in Water

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That’s why they get so deliciously gooey when soaked in anything. Photo: @smelly_prawn / Instagram

Roughly the size of a pinhead, chia seeds can swell to roughly the size of – 12 pinheads! Their hydrophilic design helps eaters stay hydrated, and all you have to do to take advantage of this fact is soak them in water 10 minutes consuming.

The seeds create a flavorless, gel-like liquid (though you can add fruit juice if you’d like to make it sweet), meaning that you can enjoy a speckled drink that’s packed with fiber.

5. Chia Seeds Can Last An Extraordinarily Long Time Before Spoiling

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Oh yeah, these guys have been sitting out for years, no big. Photo: Larry Jacobsen / Flickr

While seeds can be kept and grown for years after their prime, not many edible nuts or seeds will stay fresh to eat for very long. Chia is the exception to the rule, and can be eaten up to four or five years later so long as they get stored in a cool, dry place.

As a comparison, this is up to ten times longer than vacuum-sealed peanuts and 60 times longer than bagged peanuts kept under the same conditions.

__6. Chia Seeds Have More Omega-3 Fatty Acids Than Any Other Plant __

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They actually kind of look fatty when left to gel. Photo: Larry Jacobsen / Flickr

While it might seem like a catch-all, the health benefits are astonishing, which is perhaps why Aztec runners were said to sustain themselves for an entire day on only a teaspoon of seeds.

These small wonders contain more fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds, give you approximately 16 grams of protein per every 3.5 ounces eaten, while also containing no gluten. In other words, start putting them in everything.