The medicinal plant Chia (Salvia hispanica) is also known as Golden Chia (Salvia columbariae). Chia seeds is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, proteins, oil and dietary soluble fiber and provides some health benefits. It belongs to the same family Lamiaceae.
Traditional Uses: Alzheimer’s disease, bowel resection, constipation, diabetes, fatigue, fever, high cholesterol, hypertension, wounds.
Medicinal Properties: antioxidant, demulcent, diaphoretic, emollient, expectorant, laxative, nutritious.
Both of the Chia seed, as the rest of the plant are rich in omega-3, a polyunsaturated fatty acid that offers great health benefits for cognitive function and brain, reducing the risk of vascular disease and certain cancers. Chia is also rich in vitamins, fiber and also has antioxidant properties.
In alternative medicine, demulcent and refreshing qualities of the Chia Seed makes them excellent for improving constipation and fever. It used a poultice to treat wounds. Due to its composition, Chia positively affects in some treatments of depression and mood disorders. It can also relieve brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). Seeds can also be useful for diabetics and can help stabilize blood sugar and prevention of hypertension.
The Chia seed is composed of approximately one-third protein, one third of oil and one third of dietary soluble fiber. The oil in the seeds of Salvia hispanica contains two thirds of the concentration of omega-3 fatty acid. The seed also has in its composition, antioxidants and amino acids, and does not contain gluten and have little sodium. It is a vegetable source with higher concentrations of omega-3, iron and calcium. There are variations of the Chia seed, which can be black, white or mixed. However, all belong to the same botanical variety and these differences occur depending on the acreage, which fails to change the properties of the plant.
Chia Seeds for Diabetes
In a 2007 study in Diabetes Care, researchers found that patients with type 2 diabetes, who consumed 37 grams of chia (about 6 tablespoons) per day, had its rate of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) decrease by 32%, and the decrease in systolic and diastolic, and an improvement in the rate of blood sugar.
The Use of Chia in Culinary
The entire plant can be eaten in salads, soups or cereals. The seeds of Salvia hispanica can be eaten raw or additional flour for cakes. Chia is a fresh natural healthy drink when made by soaking seeds in water or fruit juice. It can also be used as a spice in cooking, to be sprinkled on breads, cakes and biscuits.
History and Curiosity About Chia
Chia is an herb native to South America and Central America, found mainly in Mexico. It was highly valued as a primary source of food by the Aztecs. It was said that a teaspoon of Chia seed (Salvia Hispanic) was sufficient to support an Indian for a long day’s march. There is controversy about the origin of the name Chia, and the most accepted version is that the word is derived from chiabaan, which means “strengthening.” Another survey says that the name of the seed, actually originated from the Aztec word, “chian”, which means “oily”, and the plant has been used as payment currency in the Aztec empire.