The tiny, nutrient-dense seed has created a market of healthy food and drinks.
Chia seeds are one of the latest superfoods to get runners buzzing, thanks in large part to the Tarahumara Indians’ homemade sports drink documented in the popular book Born to Run.
But it’s more than just a dietary fad. Chia seeds have a mild taste, and can be crushed and sprinkled into smoothies and other plates. And it’s worth doing that, because their nutritional value is fantastic. They are rich in omega-3s, protein, fiber, calcium and antioxidants. And they’re versatile enough to show up almost anywhere in your diet.
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But if crashing the kitchen isn’t your thing, there are products on the market—including some that target endurance athletes—that take advantage of the health benefits of chia seeds. We tried some out, and suggest these:
Huma Energy Gels
Huma is trying to make its presence in the energy gel market by offering all-natural gels. Following the fascination with the distance-running Tarahumara tribe of Mexico (and the chia seeds they commonly use in their recipes), Huma has chia as one of its gel’s top ingredients, citing a study that the seeds’ fiber content allows for a slow energy release. The gels taste great, too, and each one has around 480mg of Omega-3. ($54 for box of 24 gels, humagel.com)
Kind Raspberry Clusters with Chia Seeds
This is one of two clusters Kind offers with chia seeds (the other is Maple Quinoa). One 50g serving offers ample taste, just 190 calories, 4g of protein and 3g of fiber. It can be had as a snack or as a cereal with milk. ($33 for 6-bag case, kindsnacks.com)
Mamma Chia Organic Chia Squeezes
This is a perfect on-the-go snack—just 70 calories per pack, with 1,200mg of omega-3, 4g of fiber and 2g of protein. Our taste-testers particularly enjoyed the apple cinnamon flavor (“tastes like applesauce”) as well as strawberry banana. ($1.69, mammachia.com)
Health Warrior Chia Bar
Each bar is just 25 grams and 110 calories, but the benefits are enormous. White chia seeds are the No. 1 ingredient, and that leads to 4 grams of fiber, 3g of plant-based protein and 1,100mg of Omega-3 in a relatively small bar. Truly a nutrient-dense food—plus they taste great. ($23.50 for a box of 15 bars, healthwarrior.com.)
Yummari Chia Moxie Peanut Butter
Upgrade the nutrition of your peanut butter by buying one loaded with chia seeds. Yummari makes chia peanut butter in three flavors—classic, chocolate and coffee—and the nutrition label is similar from name-brand peanut butters but with a slight increase of fiber and protein and a large boost of omega-3s. ($7.99, Yummari.com)
MammaChia Chia Energy Beverage
Mamma Chia’s energy beverages have impressive nutrition labels—one bottle has just 120 calories but they are nutrient-dense: 140mg of potassium, 6g of dietary fiber, 4g of protein and just 14g of sugar. The abundance of chia seeds leads to 2,500mg of Omega-3 in each bottle. The presence of guayusa gives it a slight tea-like taste, and the texture is similar to a smoothie, but this is a nice, healthy way to get natural caffeine and loads of nutrients. ($2.99, mammachia.com)