Though we’ve all heard of chia pets, it’s less known that the tiny black seed responsible for the chia “fur” is a bona fide nourishing food crop, once cultivated by The Aztecs, and even used as a currency.
Chia (Salvia columbariae, S. hispanica) is a member of the Lamiaceae (Mint) Family. Salvia, the genus name, derives from the Latin salvere, meaning, “to save.” Another well known member of the Salvia genus is sage (Salvia officinalis).
The common name, chia, derives from the Mayan chiabaan, meaning, “strengthening.” The native peoples of the American Southwest for endurance have long used chia seeds, where tribe’s people could run swiftly on a handful of chia seeds and a gourd of water. They are fast becoming a favorite for athletes today. Chia seeds have long been used used to correct constipation being rich in soluble fiber. They are considered an energy tonic that moistens the yin (fluids) of the body enhancing joint activity and sexual health.
Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 and 6 fatty acids — even more than flax. The DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) content of the omega 3s enhances immunity and promotes communication between brain cells by allowing enhanced synapse activity. Chias are also rich in protein, (20 percent on a dry weight basis), vitamin B complex (especially niacin (B3) and riboflavinB2), and biotin calcium, potassium and fiber. They also contain immune activating mucopolysaccharides and the antioxidant quercetin. They help to regulate blood sugar levels, thus curbing the desire to overeat. According to Asian Medicine, foods that are naturally black in color support the Kidneys and Bladder.