Even if you never actually had your own Chia Pet, you probably remember the infomercials featuring clay animals that you moistened, spread with seeds and watched as they eventually sprouted "fur." Well, it turns out those chia seeds, from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, are edible whole grains with real health benefits. Rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein and calcium, there is strong evidence that they lower hypertension, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and the risk of repeat heart attacks.
We dare you to whip up this Chocolate Chia Pudding
, where chia seeds stand in for less nutritious thickeners. Just mix the seeds with milk, cocoa, honey and other ingredients, and refrigerate overnight. The magic happens as the seeds absorb the liquid and form a chocolaty "pudding." Don't forget the dried cherries, which are rich in anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that reduces inflammation and may lower the risk of diabetes.
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