Salvia Hispanica is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. It was cultivated by the Aztec and Maya in pre-Columbian times since 3500 years B.C, was highly valued and even offered to their gods. Chia seed is traditionally consumed in Mexico, the south-western United States, and South America, but is not widely known in Europe. In 2009, the European Union approved Chia seeds as a novel food.
Chia seed is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is a source of vitamins (A, E and B complex), antioxidants and a variety of amino acids. Chia seeds typically contain 20% protein, 34% oil, 25% dietary fibre, and significant levels of antioxidants.
Chia seed may be eaten raw as a dietary fibre and omega-3 supplement. An intake of 2-4 tea spoons per day is recommended. Chia seeds soaked in water or fruit juice for about 15-30 mins are also often consumed. The soaked seeds are gelatinous in texture and are used in gruels, porridges and puddings. The use of ground Chia seeds increases the absorption of all its nutrients and it is used as such in breads, cakes and biscuits. Chia sprouts are used in salads, sandwiches and other dishes. Chia seeds do not have any flavour or odour.