This Superfood Is A Great Source Of Plant-Based Protein

We've all heard that protein is a nutrient that we should incorporate into our diets as much as possible, but why is it so important? Protein is essential to keeping our bodies and brains in working order, building muscle mass, and keeping us fueled and energized. It also helps create antibodies that fight infections and can be found throughout the body, including in our bones, muscles, hair, and skin (via WebMD). 

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to rely on eating animal meat and consuming dairy to get your necessary daily intake of protein. Protein can be found in an abundance of plant-based foods, including the mighty chia seeds. Luckily for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike, this globally considered superfood packs a protein punch and tastes amazing in a variety of recipes. As if that weren't enough, chia seeds have also gained a ton of traction in the culinary world for their multitude of health benefits.

Chia seeds are the perfect protein source

Chia seeds contain all nine essential amino acids, making them a "complete" protein source. The small, ovoid, brownish-black seed comes from the Salvia hispanica plant, making it part of the mint family (per Britannica). The ancient Aztecs and Mayans harvested and ate chia seeds, as these cultures considered them a dietary staple and munched on them for an extra boost of energy. In fact, "chia" is the Mayan word for "strength," as Ancient Grains notes.

Chia seeds are filled with nutrients that are extremely beneficial to your overall well-being. According to HealthlineThey're loaded with antioxidants that help fight off free radicals. A single 1-ounce serving of chia seeds offers 11 grams of fiber, five grams of omega-3 fatty acids, and four grams of protein. Chia seeds also provide zinc, potassium, and vitamins B1, B2, and B3. Plus, they're naturally gluten-free.

With all their great health benefits, the only question that remains is how to incorporate chia seeds into your meals. Well, the possibilities are endless. You can add them to smoothie bowls and oatmeal, mix them with coconut milk and honey to make chia seed pudding, infuse them into baked goods, and even sprinkle them on top of peanut butter toast, yogurt, eggs, or ice cream. Ch-ch-ch-chia!