Runners, if you haven’t heard about the benefits of chia, let’s get you up to speed. In her article “The Truth about Chia” Kathleen M. Zelman, the director of nutrition for WebMD, says chia seeds are a concentrated food containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium making them essential source of nutrition for an athlete’s diet.

Here’s why eating chia seeds can keep you energized and fit on your run.

Reduced inflammation and joint pain


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Tired of stopping mid run with aches and pains? Chia is the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven to reduce inflammation. Omega-3 can also help to alleviate skin conditions and promote healthy brain function. If a diet rich in fish or flax is not your jam, chia is a great substitute – check out this recipe.

Sustained energy boost


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Chia seeds are extremely absorbent and expand up to nine to ten times their original size when they come in contact with water, forming a gel-like substance. Because of this gel-forming action, chia slows the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar, meaning your body will feel fuller for a longer period of time. Half and full marathoners, take note.

Continuous hydration


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Chia seeds have such an absorbent quality and help improve body fluid level regulation and electrolyte retention. This ability alone is key for any long, strenuous activity. You can’t take a water bottle everywhere.

Eased recovery


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If you’re not already jumping for joy, you should know chia is packed with antioxidants and is a complete source of protein, containing all eight essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of our body. The complete protein in chia helps with cell and tissue regeneration, and the high levels of antioxidants fight free radicals that may attack and weaken our immune system.

It’s easy to incorporate chia into your daily meals – there are so many ways to eat chia seeds. At breakfast, I sprinkle about a tablespoon of seeds over my morning yogurt or oatmeal for an added boost of energy. Chia also adds nicely to baked goods, making for a healthier muffin to eat mid afternoon before a workout or practice. Chia also has a tasty crunchy, nuttiness that adds well to any salad.