No we are not talking about ChiaPets, that sprouting clay animal of our youth, but the wonder seed chia, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, the benefits of which are lowered cholesterol, anti-aging, and cancer prevention. The seeds are some the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat, with just two tablespoons containing 10 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, more calcium than milk, more Omega-3s than salmon and more iron than spinach.

Besides these wide-ranging health benefits, this superfood is one of the top fuel sources for endurance athletes. The best-selling book, Born To Run, highlighted chia seeds as the indigenous dietary staple of the Tarahumara Indians, a tribe of ultra-runners in the Copper Canyons of Mexico, noted for their 50+ mile runs. Because of their extreme absorbancy, chia seeds provide sustained energy and help prevent dehydration. They expand up to ten times their original size when soaked in water, forming a gel-like substance that slows the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar and allows carbohydrates consumed to fuel the body for longer periods of time. This helps stabilize blood sugar levels and regulate body fluids to retain electrolytes, critical in preventing dehydration during long runs.

Now we are not the Tarahumara Indians, who are going to eat a handful of not particularly tasty chia seeds before a run. There is however, a new line of chia rich products on the market, created specifically for athletes. I recently sampled the “Chia Chargers” and “Chia Moxie Peanut Butter” by the family owned and run, New York Superfoods. These products are completely natural, gluten-free, certified non-GMO and delicious! Co-founder Catherine Walsh, a runner and triathlete, created these products with her husband, to fill a gap in the marketplace of nutritious chia products designed for athletic performance. Launched in 2010, they created the first ever raw chia health energy bite, the Chia Charger®  and now have a line chia peanut butters as well. Regardless of your fitness level or activity, these products are a tasty way to incorporate this superfood into your diet, with the added benefit of enhanced athletic performance. Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!