Facts about chia seeds
A vault of valuable vitamins and minerals
The tiny black seeds have gained much popularity among health foodies in recent years. They are tasty and easily swell to a gel-like consistency. That is why they are often used as an ingredient in desserts, smoothies, breakfast cereals, energy bars, yogurts or muesli. Their attractiveness, however, lies primarily in their health benefits, especially the availability of valuable unsaturated fatty acids.
1Chia (Salvia hispanica) is a plant species in the mint family (Lamiaceae).
The Lamiaceae includes more than 7,200 species representing 236 genera. They are found throughout the world except in the circumpolar region.
2Chia is native to central and southern Mexico.
The plant produces oval, gray seeds with black and white spots that are edible - chia seeds.
3The plant was cultivated by the Aztecs in pre-Columbian times and was a staple food of Mesoamerican cultures.
Evidence of this is provided by the 16th century Codex Mendoza, an Aztec codex written around 1541, which contains a history of the Aztec rulers and their conquests, as well as a description of the daily life of the pre-conquest Aztec community.
The codex is written in the Nahuatl language using traditional Aztec pictographs. Its name comes from Don Antonio de Mendoza, viceroy of New Spain and a leading patron of native artists.
4Economic historians say that chia seeds may have been as important as corn as a food crop in those days.
They served as a staple food for Aztec Nahuatl cultures. Jesuit chroniclers ranked chia as the third most important crop in Aztec culture, behind corn and beans and ahead of amaranth.
Sacrifices made to Aztec priests were often in the form of chia seeds.
5Today, chia seeds are grown on a small scale in central Mexico and Guatemala, the homeland of their ancestors.
Commercial crops are grown in Central and South America.
6The name "chia" comes from the word "chian" in the Nahuatl language and means oily.
The current name of the Mexican state of Chiapas, located in the southern part of Mexico, is derived from chia - water or river in the Nahuatl language.
Some sources say that the word "chia" means strength.
7Chia is an annual plant that grows up to 1 meter (3,2 feet) tall.
Its flowers are purple or white, gathered in whorls at the tips of the stems. The fruits (splits) contain numerous oval seeds about 2 mm long. Their surface is spotted, in brown, black, gray and white.
8Chia seeds are hydrophilic.
When soaked, they absorb up to 12 times more liquid than they weigh and form a mucilaginous coating that gives them a gel-like consistency.
9Chia seeds contain many valuable ingredients that positively affect the human body.
They contain 20% protein, 34% fat, 25% water-soluble fiber, antioxidants, valuable minerals and vitamins.
The oil from these seeds contains a high concentration of fatty acids, is gluten-free and contains trace amounts of sodium.
Thanks to their properties, they can positively affect the digestive system, heart and circulatory system, as well as the condition of the skin.
10Chia seed oil contains about 64% omega -3 fatty acids.
It also contains omega-6 fatty acids, which occur in a beneficial ratio to omega-3 for health and disease prevention. It has more omega-3 fatty acids than Norwegian salmon, considered the richest source.
Chia seeds are the best-known plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, better than flax seeds.