You have probably heard of chia seeds, but you may have not tried them yet. So what is all the buzz about?
Why the tiny black seeds are labelled as superfood which has numerous, some of which close to miraculous, benefits to our health? Can the rich in protein and omega acids seeds solve our gut and weight problems, among many other?
And why Europeans got into the chia seeds hype only in the last decade?
The seeds have actually been around for many centuries, used by the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans as a staple food, mixed with other foods, mixed in beverages, ground into flour, included in medicines, pressed for oil and often offered to the Gods in religious ceremonies.
The name derives from the Aztec word chian, meaning oily; while in the ancient Mayan, chia was the word for strength and the seeds were an important part of warriors’ diets as a rich source of energy.
During the Age of Discovery, the Spanish conquerors in a quest to suppress the local culture, banned the seeds because of their association with religion. As a result, chia crops were eliminated to only survive in regions of Mexico.
And logically, the first known usages of the word in the English language come from historical texts on the conquest of Mexico. Starting from the seeds” nutrition value as staple food, 1832, Thomas Francis Gordon, The history of ancient Mexico: “The soldier, who had a small bag of flour of maize and chia, thought himself amply provided”. And going through harvesting and chia-enhanced beverages, 1843, William Hickling Prescott, History of the conquest of Mexico: “He fell in with a girl who was reaping chia—a Mexican plant, the seed of which was much used in the drinks of the country”
In the 20s, there was a wave of scientist trying to emphasize on the nourishing properties of the seeds, but it was only in the 90s when scientists started actually collaborating in an effort to revive chia cultivation and its commercial production.
At present, chia is grown in numerous South American countries and surprise, Australia is quite likely to become the biggest chia growing country in the world!
So there are chia seeds for all of us, and based on scientific studies and marketing campaigns, a chia-rich diet could slow the process of ageing, repair tissue and ensure healthy hair, skin and nails; balance our gut flora and fight with autoimmune diseases and excessive weight.
The daily recommended intake is a tablespoon and as those are dry seeds, they can be either sprinkled on food, soaked into liquids and wet food or, of course, blended into smoothies.
The receipt which gets the most online buzz and recommendation is for a healthy and quick breakfast, prepared from sprinkled with chia and cinnamon oats, soaked in milk, and left overnight. And do it in style – let it soak overnight in, at least, a fancy Mason jar rather than a plastic food container, as who knows what might trigger the magical super powers of chia!