- Salvia hispanica, commonly known as Chia, is an erect, branched herb with bright green, ovate, pointed leaves that can grow up to 1.2m x 0.4m.
- In summer blue flowers are produced in dense racemes at the end of each stem.
- The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs).
- Needs any well drained soils and prefers a protected, sunny position.
- It is frost tender but drought resistant.
- Grown as an annual/biennial, depending on the climate.
- It needs a long summer to have enough time for the seed to mature.
- Can be eaten raw (like nuts)/used in baking by sprinkling them on bread, cakes, cookies and biscuits; made into flour (in a mix with other cereal flours) and used in baked goods including breads, cakes and biscuits.
- A healthful drink, (Chia Fresca) can be made by soaking the whole seed in water.
- When soaked, the seeds are gelatinous - is then flavoured with fruit juices.
- The gelled seeds can also be prepared as a porridge or pudding.
- Can be sprouted and used in soups, stews, sandwiches and in salads (like alfalfa or wheatgrass).
Medicinal Uses. It is said that:
- The seed, leaves and oil.
- Salvia hispanica seed is extremely nutritious – it is a high protein, high energy food with enzyme action (catalyst aiding food digestion).
- Contains 20% protein, 34% oil, 25% dietary fibre (mostly soluble with high molecular weight), amino acids and significant levels of antioxidants (chlorogenic and caffeic acids, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol flavonols).
- The oil is very rich in omega-3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids - the same Omega 3 fats that are found in ocean fish and eggs.
- The seeds yield 25-30% extractable oil, mostly ?-linolenic acid (ALA).
- Contains no gluten and trace levels of sodium.
- The word chia is derived from the Nahuatl word chian, meaning oily.
- Seeds are oval shaped with a diameter of about 1 mm.
- They are mottle-coloured with brown, gray, black and white.
- All colours are considered equal nutritious.
- Salvia hispanica seed is a thirst quencher and survival food.
- Salvia hispanica can be used in the treatment and/or management of diabetes and/or the treatment and management of diabetes associated conditions or risk factors, such as one or more of the following: blood pressure and blood glucose levels, post-prandial glycemia, inflammatory factors (C-reactive protein), coagulation (fibrinogen, factor VIII, von Willenbrand factor), and fibronolytic factors (such as t-PA), iron status and endothelial function, (such as increase in nitric oxide generation).
- Animal studies suggest that it may lower blood cholesterol, LDL (low density lipoproteins or "bad" cholesterol), and triglycerides while increasing HDL (high density lipoproteins or "good" cholesterol).
- May also have anti-cancer activity.
- Add Salvia hispanica to chicken feed - may improve the nutritional value of chicken products by increasing the omega-3 content and decreasing the cholesterol content of the meat and eggs.
- Is grown for use as a binder in industrial compounds, such as varnish, paints and cosmetics.