While chia seeds are grown in the U.S., the leading countries in chia seed production are Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Australia. In fact, Australia was the biggest producer of chia in the world in 2008. South America now dominates the commercial chia seed production. Just like quinoa, chia thrives in arid conditions and in areas of low soil fertility. It can also grow in different altitudes with no problems whatsoever. Chia plants fully mature between 100 and 150 days.
Although chia seeds are now grown in many parts of the world, its origins go back to the ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures and later to the Native American Indian tribes. Although it may seem strange today, chia seeds were used by these ancient peoples to achieve supernatural powers. Chia seeds were handled by the shamans of the time and were often used in sacred rituals. Needless to say, chia seeds were considered an important food, which had to be handled carefully by the most important people of these cultures. The consumption of chia seeds is exploding today as more consumers rediscover this ancient grain.
How are They Eaten?
Chia seeds are an ideal substitute for foods high in calories, due to their high-fiber content. When combined with water, chia seeds form a gel which can replace eggs. The chia gel can then be used in baked desserts and even soups to eliminate calories, without losing any flavor of the dish. Chia gel can also be used to bind patties made with vegetables. It works like a miraculous and healthy glue! Chia seeds are commonly sprinkled on top of cereal, salads, sandwiches, yogurt, etc. for a healthy, nutty flavor. Chia seeds can also be added to certain beverages to spice up the flavor.
Chia Seeds are Healthy
Known as a “superfood”, chia seeds are gluten-free, making them a great choice for those with allergies or health issues related to gluten consumption. Chia seeds are packed with natural antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid and flavonoids including quercitin, myricetin and kaempferol. These natural antioxidants help to eliminate stress, a major cause of many diseases. Chia seeds are packed with vitamins, including riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin. In addition, chia seeds contain minerals to including calcium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium and copper. Chia seeds also deliver a huge amount of fiber, which contributes to the proper functioning of the intestines and the reduction in the glycemic index, helping to prevent obesity and the possible development of type 2 diabetes.
Ancient Grains are worth incorporating into your life. It’s easy to start! Just download our free Ancient Grains Cookbook to learn how.