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On National Chia Day, now celebrated every year on March 23, we thank the planet for giving us an endless supply of the matchless nutritive punch within these flattened ovals, the size of a few millimeters. Chia seeds have been around for more than 3500 years but only received the spotlight they so rightfully deserved in 2016. They are small, mighty seeds known as one of the rare superfoods on the planet.
History of National Chia Day
Chia seeds are packed with all things nutritional. From vitamins and minerals to proteins, fibers, and omega-3 fatty acids, they consist of a long list of nutritional benefits. These ‘magical seeds’ were first found to be the fuel for ancient Mayans, Aztecs, and Tarahumara Indians. Their warriors would tie a bunch to their waists and toss a spoonful of seeds into their mouths every now and then, enabling them to survive the long days traveling without having to stop and eat any other food at all. Since then, they became a staple of the Aztec diet and Mayans began using the word ‘chia’ to denote ‘strength’ in their language.
Chia seeds originated from the minty desert plant Salvia hispanica, which is native to southern- and central Mexico. Fast forward to the 20th century, Dr. Wayne Coates from the University of Arizona, in his research of ancient plants, came across chia seeds in the 1980s and was blown away by their loaded nutritional profile. However, it wasn’t until 20 years later, when the vegan lifestyle started to gain popularity, that the hunt for plant-based proteins brought chia seeds into mainstream awareness.
The tiny grains were touted as a ‘superfood’ when researchers re-evaluated the nutritional value of the edible seeds. Teeming with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, fibers, and tons of other micronutrients, chia seeds finally earned their due reputation of being one of the few most wholesome grains on the face of the Earth.
In 2016, the preeminent chia leader, Mamma Chia successfully instituted March 23 as National Chia Day.
National Chia Day timeline
The first records of chia seeds can be traced back to the Aztec and Mayan warriors’ diets.
Between 1500 B.C. and 900 B.C., Teotihuacan and Toltec people grow the seeds in Mexico to use in medicines, grind them into flour, or press them for oil.
Joseph Pedott creates the Chia Pet laced with sticky chia seeds that, when watered, sprout into a fur-like form.
The organic superfood company, Mamma Chia, designates National Chia Day and celebrates with chia-seed giveaways.
National Chia Day FAQs
What is the daily recommended dose of chia seeds?
While there is no strict rule, the common dosage is up to three tablespoons of chia seeds per day.
How should we eat chia seeds?
There really is no definitive answer to this, given the full range of versatility the seeds bring into our lives. They can be eaten raw, dipped in juices, sprinkled on top of cereal, in a sweet snack bar, or made in a chia pudding. The Chia Berry Shake from Janie Hoffman’s “The Chia Cookbook” is a must-try!
Do chia seeds have any side effects?
Just make sure you do not choke on the seeds and chew them well. If you are on a renal diet, you may have to regulate your daily dosage to monitor phosphate allowance.
National Chia Day Activities
Sprinkle your day with chia!
Use this day as an excuse to eat more chia seeds, and possibly make them a staple in your regular diet. Add some in your oatmeal, casseroles, beverages, your dessert dishes, and anything you can pair their neutral flavor with.
Prove your love for chia seeds
Before consuming your chia-decorated dishes, whip out your phone and take a snap of all the chia-sprinkled food you eat throughout this day to post on your social media. Let the world know you’re leveling up with chia power!
Grow chia seeds and eat them fresh
Why not? Chia plants are easy to grow and maintain once established, so dedicate this day to sow the seed in soil and Google how to do the planting. Meanwhile, here’s a disclaimer: their purple and white flowers are absolutely divine to look at!
5 Facts About Chia Seeds That Will Blow Your Mind
It was a legal tender
Aztecs were so impressed by chia seeds that besides using them in religious ceremonies, they also served as the legal currency to pay and be paid with.
Chia seeds can be sprouted at home
You can sprout chia seeds by wrapping some whole chia grains in a towel and keeping it wet for one week.
It contains selenium
Chia seeds are high in selenium, the key antioxidant needed for cell metabolism, which is rarely found in regular foods.
It is used as a face mask
The gel-like consistency of chia seeds when dipped in coconut oil and lemon juice is the perfect skin-hydrating treatment.
It can be used virtually everywhere
Chia seeds are one of the rarest ingredients that can be used in all kinds of foods and for various purposes, including snack bars, to make a thick sauce, baked in bread, or mixed in a smoothie.
Why We Love National Chia Day
Chia seeds are replete with vital nutrients
That’s right. There are so many nutrients packed into this seed that one would think it’s going brim over. They contain eight times more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon, 10 times more calcium than milk, and 25 times more fiber than flaxseeds. And that’s just to name a few.
They are ‘free’ for all
Chia seeds don’t care if you are any kind of food-intolerant. They contain everything necessary to digest the nutrients they come with, are gluten-free, and vegan-friendly. What more could we want?
They are the epitome of versatility
They are neutral in flavor, which means there’s no limit to the amounts of foods and drinks they can be added in. On top of it, they can be used in cream puddings, as face-glowing masks, and pureed into baby foods.
National Chia Day dates