Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia! It’s an ad jingle as redolent of the 1990s as Pop Rocks and Power Rangers. Now, however, the little magic seeds that grow into green hair on clay animals and presidential candidates are undergoing a renaissance — as health food.
Chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein and fiber, apparently, and can be added to cookies, yogurt, snack foods, cereals and fruit drinks, reports the New York Times.
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Health food purveyors are jumping on the bandwagon, with major supermarkets like Vons and Albertsons now stocking products like Chia & Fruit Clusters from Dole and Apple Crumble Love Crunch from Nature’s Path on their shelves.
The tiny seeds of the Salvia hispanica, a flowering plant of the mint family cultivated in Mexico and Guatemala, have been considered a superfood since the time of the Aztecs. Health food aficionados say it has advantages over the ubiquitous flax seed, which needs to be ground up and can go bad. Janie Hoffman, the founder of Mamma Chia fruit juices and according to the Times one of the first people to recognize its marketability as a health food, now sells her chia drinks in Whole Foods and health food stores nationwide. (So how does it taste? Stay away from the guava and coconut flavors, advises Gothamist.)
The company behind the original Chia Pet, Joseph Enterprises, is also in on the action, and now offers plain and milled chia seeds for human consumption. But for those who prefer old-school uses of the seed, never fear. You can still buy all the old Chia animals, as well as a Santa or Snowman with a Chia tree, in time for the holidays.
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