Species: Salvia hispanica
Part Used: seeds
| PLANT DESCRIPTION |
|According to the USDA, a one ounce (28 gram) serving of chia seeds contains 9 grams of fat, 5 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of protein, 18% of the recommended daily intake of calcium, 27% phosphorus and 30% manganese. These nutrient values are similar to other edible seeds, such as flax or sesame.
In 2009, the European Union approved chia seeds as a novel food, allowing up to 5% of a bread product's total matter.
Chia seeds may be added to other foods as a topping or put into smoothies, breakfast cereals, energy bars, yogurt, made into a gelatin-like substance, or consumed raw.
|Chia seed is the richest botanical source of Omega 3 fatty acids found in nature. Gram for gram, chia seed oil offers more omega-3 fatty acides than flax seed or fish oil. And it doesn’t have the rancidity issues that are associated with flax seed and fish oils. Chia oil is rich in protein, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin and zinc.
Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. Chia seeds have been used for centuries for their remarkable beneficial properties. A staple for Incan, Mayan, and Aztec cultures. The 16th-century Codex Mendoza provides evidence that it was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times; economic historians have suggested it was as important as maize as a food crop.
By the time the Spanish arrived in Mesoamerica in the 1500s, the Aztecs had developed thriving methods of agriculture and cultivated a variety of indigenous plants with great success. Of their many crops, four had significant nutritional benefits: these were amaranth, beans, corn and chia. Prized as much for its medicinal powers as for its nutritional value, chia was regarded as especially helpful in combating fevers or coughs. In fact, the tiny seeds were considered to be so valuable that Aztec rulers accepted them as legal tender from their own people and also as tributes from conquered nations.
Unfortunately for the Aztecs, their Spanish conquerors found that chia was also used in their religious ceremonies. Having ground the seeds into flour, they would make a dough and form this into the images of gods, which they would then cut up and eat. Denouncing the custom as heresy, the Spanish proceeded to ban the cultivation of chia and, as a result, for many years only small groups of natives in the mountains of Guatemala and South West Mexico continued to grow it.
Chia, Salvia Hispanica L There is evidence that (Salvia hispanica L) was first used as food as early as 3500 B.C., and served as a cash crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. The seeds were eaten alone and mixed with other seed crops, drank as a beverage when dissolved in water, ground into flour, included in medicines, and pressed for oil. Aztec rulers received seeds as an annual tribute from conquered nations, and the grain was offered to the gods during religious ceremonies.
S. hispanica is described and pictured in the Mendoza Codex and the Florentine Codex, sixteenth century Aztec codices created between 1540 and 1585. Both describe and picture Salvia hispanica and its usage by the Aztec. The Mendoza Codex indicates that the plant was widely cultivated and given as tribute in 21 of the 38 Aztec provincial states. Economic historians suggest that it was a staple food that was as widely used as maize.
Aztec tribute records from the Mendoza Codex, Matrícula de Tributos, and the Matricula de Huexotzinco (1560)—along with colonial cultivation reports and linguistic studies—give detail to the geographic location of the tributes, and provide some geographic specificity to the main S. hispanica growing regions. Most of the provinces grew the plant, except for areas of lowland coastal tropics and desert. The traditional area of cultivation was in a distinct area that covered parts of north-central Mexico south to Nicaragua. A second and separate area of cultivation, apparently pre-Columbian, was in southern Honduras and Nicaragua.