Chia comes from the plant Salvia Hispanica, which is related to mint. Chia seeds are native to Mexico & Guatemala and spread across regions in Latin America including Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. Chia has been proven to be widely used in Latin America since 3500 B.C.! Historians have suggested it was as important as maize in ancient Latin culture.
Chia was harvested between 2600 and 2000 B.C. by the Teotihuacan and Toltec civilizations and later was one of the main components of the Aztec and Mayan diet. These early civilizations used it as currency between 1500 and 900 B.C. and as a raw material for medicines. Chia was used by the Aztecs as food, flour, oil, and mixed in water and consumed as a beverage. Chia can be stored for many years so it could be easily carried on long trips, serving as a high-energy food.
The ancient civilizations believed that the chia seed provided supernatural powers because of the large amounts of it energy provided. Ancient warriors attributed their stamina to the tiny seed. Mayan and Aztecs ate a handful before battle to keep them full all day and boost their energy… even now the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico is famous for it’s runners, who are able to go hundreds of miles without fatiguing. The runners drink a mixture of chia seeds, lemon, and water known as “Iskiate.”
“Chia” is derived from the ancient Nahuatl (Aztec language) word chian, meaning “oily” and the Mayans used the word for Chia to also mean “strength.”
Chia was so significant that it was offered to the gods during religious ceremonies. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the 1500s, they repressed the natives traditions and the commerce system that existed. So Chia was banned because of their close association with religion and not allowed to be used as a currency. Chia, as the result, was deliberately eliminated as a cultivated crop but luckily it survived in wild Andean regions where it still exists today.
Chia is presently grown in Argentina, Mexico, Peru and Bolivia…..but its the producer is fast becoming Australia. The Chia Company in Australia predict that Australia will likely to become the biggest chia growing country in the world.
It comes in several colours, including mottle-brown, gray, black, and white. Brown indicates that the seed is unripe although there is no difference nutritionally between colours.
These teeny tiny seeds expand in your stomach making you feel full, so lots of women in South America sprinkle it like salt over food to help them lose weight.
Chia Seeds give you a massive amount of nutrients with very few calories, in essence Many health experts believe that chia seeds can help with weight loss.
The seed absorbs large amounts of water and expands in the stomach, which should increase fullness and slow the absorption of food.
Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants and full of fibre, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. They’re also said to be good for lowering cholesterol.
1g Chia Seeds contains more Omega-3 than 1g Salmon!
Just 2tbs of Chia Seeds gives you:
11 grams of fibre
4 grams of protein
9 grams of fat, 5 of which are Omega-3.
18% the RDA of Calcium.
30% the RDA of Manganese.
30% the RDA of Magnesium.
27% the RDA of Phosphorus.
The seeds absorb up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked.
They form a gel when mixed with water, which makes them a good substitute for eggs in vegan diets. To make the egg replacement, mix 1tbs chia seeds with 3tbs water. After 15 minutes the “egg” is ready.
Chia seeds don’t have a very strong flavour and as a result they can me added to most meals for extra energy.
A few recipes to try with Chia Seeds: