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Everyone seems to be talking about chia seeds, deemed one of the newest super-foods . I still remember them as part of the 1970s' and 80s' Chia Pets craze, but they are not just for terracotta animals anymore. Originating from South and Central America, chia seeds and chia plants are part of the mint family and were cultivated by the Aztecs prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It is believed that chia seeds were as important a food crop as maize. Should we be adding chia seeds to our daily diet?

There has been much talk about the nutritional and health benefits of chia seeds, ranging from weight loss, inflammation reduction and as a source of calcium. Here are a few things you may want to know about these little seeds to help you decide if they get added to your next grocery list:

 •Chia seeds are gluten-free. Since [Link Removed] , I'm always on the lookout for new foods that will broaden our culinary experiences. As a tropical breakfast option in the summer, I make a no-cook pudding by stirring 4 Tablespoons of chia seeds into one cup of lite coconut milk. Allow to sit in the fridge overnight then serve in the morning with a bit of honey for sweetness, shredded coconut and fresh mango.

 •1 Tablespoon of chia seeds gives you as much as 6 grams of fibre. To put that into perspective, a popular local brand of whole wheat bread has 2 grams of fibre per slice. Women should be aiming for about 25 grams per day. Chia seeds can be added to muffins, mixed into smoothies, or sprinkled raw over salads and mixed into soups. Chia seeds can even be combined with water to form a thick gel and used as an egg substitute in baking.

 •Chia seeds contain three times the amount of anti-aging antioxidants as blueberries. Antioxidants fight the free radicals that bombard our bodies and cause premature aging. When consumed, antioxidants also help boost collagen and elastin production, helping to keep the skin firm.

 •Chia seeds are also the richest plant-source of fatty Omega-3's. But, before you throw your fish back into the water, be aware that chia seeds contain short-chain Omega-3's. It is the long-chain Omega-3's found in fish that [Link Removed] . Although the body does benefit from short-chain Omega-3's, chia seeds shouldn't be a replacement for the fish, walnuts and eggs in your diet.

To chia or not to chia? For now, my family and I are still enjoying the novelty and nutritional benefits of these mild-tasting little seeds in all their incarnations. What about you, will you be trying chia seeds?

Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at [Link Removed]
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