Salvia hispanica (Chia) is a plant of the genus Salvia in the family Lamiaceae native to Mexico. The word chia is derived from the Aztec word chian, meaning oily. The present Mexican state of Chiapas received its name from the Nahua "chia water or river."
Chia was cultivated by the Aztecs in pre-Columbian times. Jesuit chroniclers referred to chia as the third most important crop to the Aztecs behind only corn and beans, and ahead of amaranth. Tribute and taxes to the Aztec priesthood and nobility were often paid in chia seed.
Two tablespoons of chia – about 25 grams – provide about seven grams of fibre. This dose also includes calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, copper, niacin, and zinc.
In a preliminary study from the University of Toronto (2006), researchers gave 21 diabetics either a supplement made from chia, or grains with similar fibre content. The results were interesting. After three months, blood pressure from the chia group dropped 10 points diastolic and 5 points systolic., while the blood pressure from the grain group remained steady.
Taste-wise, chia seeds have a nutty flavour, and are a healthful addition to the diet sprinkled on cereals, yogurt or salads. You can also eat them whole or mix them into flour when baking bread, muffins or other baked goods. They are also great to sprout.
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