Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) is a species of flowering plant in the mint family (Lamiaceae) native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. The chia plant is an annual herb growing to 1.5m tall; it produces purple and white flowers with edible oilseeds growing in clusters in a spike at end of each stem. Chia seeds are oval-shaped, 1mm in diameter, with color varying from brown, grey, black, and white.
Chia is the Mayan word for strength. There is evidence that chia seeds were first used as food as early as 3500 B.C., serving as one of the main dietary components of both the Aztecs and the Mayans. Chia is described and pictured in Aztec tribute records and codices including the Mendoza Codex, Matrícula de Tributos, and the Matricula de Huexotzinco from the 16th century. Colonial cultivation reports and studies of ancient linguistics indicate that the plant was widely cultivated.
Economic historians have suggested that it was as important as maize (corn), beans and amaranth as a food crop, also serving as a cash crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. Aztec rulers also received chia seeds as an annual tribute from conquered nations, and the seeds were offered to the gods during religious ceremonies. The Mexican State of Chiapas, located within the limits of what was ancient Mayan territory, derives its name from the Nahuatl word Chiapan which means “river of chia”. Chia seeds were used by these ancient cultures as a mega-energy food: they were eaten as a grain alone or mixed with other grains, drank as a beverage when placed in water, ground into flour, included in medicines, and pressed for oil and used as a base for face and body paints.
Pure Chia grows dedicated fields of black and white seeds. Aside from the color difference, the seeds are virtually the same: they contain the same basic nutritional value, are the same size, and taste and smell the same. One tablespoon of whole chia seeds eaten directly, mixed into water, or sprinkled on food provides a whole day worth of energy.
Chia bran is the husk of the chia seed, produced by milling the whole chia seed, and consists of 55% dietary fiber and 25% protein. As it is 80% insoluble and 20% soluble, the optimal ratio to aid healthy digestion, it is perfect for people looking to increase fiber in their diet; two tablespoons provide over 50% of the recommended daily fiber intake.
Chia ground seed is the whole ground version of our chia seed, with the same nutritional value as whole chia seeds, but created for those who prefer the ground texture, or want to use it in recipes. We use a natural process to grind the chia seeds that prevents oxidation and maintains all the nutritional value; one tablespoon is recommended daily.
Chia oil is the natural Omega-3 plant oil extracted from chia seeds. Using a specialized process to extract the oil from the seed, chia oil is perfect for people wanting to boost their daily Omega-3 intake. With a mild and pleasant taste, 10ml of chia oil every day is recommended for your daily requirement of Omega-3 ALA and to enhance heart health.
Chia can be consumed as whole seeds, ground seeds, meal, bran, flour, and oil, which can be eaten directly or mixed into water, juices, cereals, salads and recipes, or taken in concentrated pill and powder form. Chia can be used for commercial food applications including bread and baked goods, breakfast cereals and bars, beverages, pasta, and dairy, without altering flavour.
Chia can also be used in the animal feed industry to enrich poultry, eggs, beef, milk, and pork with Omega-3’s, in the pet food industry to improve nutrition, in the cosmetics and skin care industry as an essential oil, in the pesticide industry as a natural insecticide, and in the energy sector where chia biomass can be used in ethanol production.