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Chia Seed - Salvia hispanica

Chia can act like a sponge, absorbing toxins, lubricating the colon and strengthening the peristaltic action

Salvia hispanica, commonly known as Chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, that is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. It was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times, and was so valued that it was given as an annual tribute by the people to the rulers. It is still used in Mexico and Guatemala, with the seeds sometimes ground, while whole seed is used for nutritious drinks and as a food source.

However, most of us do not realize that Chia seed is highly nutritious, medicinal, and it has been used for centuries for its beneficial properties. Chia was a staple for Incan, Mayan, and Aztec cultures. “Chia” is even the Mayan word for “strength”, and Chia seeds used to be referred to as "Indian Running Food" because they are so energizing. Apache and Aztec warriors sustained themselves by bringing the seeds along while on conquests, Aztecs used Chia as a legal tender, Indians of the southwest depended upon them during long trading expeditions, and they were also used by the Indians and missionaries as a poultice for gunshot wounds and other injuries. Today, Chia seed is being rediscovered and embraced as a “superfood”, and it is quickly becoming popular among nutritionists and herbalists alike.

Chia, a rich source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 precursor). Recent research at the University of Toronto has shown that regular chia intake may help maintain healthy blood pressure and C-reactive protein levels, both of which are well-known markers of cardiovascular disease.

Chia can act like a sponge, absorbing toxins, lubricating the colon and strengthening the peristaltic action. Considering the high incidence of bowel cancer, diverticulitis, colitis, chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome in our country, we need to share knowledge of this healing plant with our fellow man. Chia seeds come to the rescue when the stomach is upset and will not tolerate other foods; or to fortify the body against the exhaustive effects of extreme summer temperatures. The seed helps to quench the thirst if added to a glass of water, a very practical benefit in our hot summers. It is an appetite satisfier, so useful to dieters. Chia has been valued for calming the nerves and strengthening the memory.

Chia seed may be eaten raw as a whole seed and is an excellent source of omega-3 and dietary Fiber (both insoluble and soluble). Ground chia seed is sometimes added to pinole, a coarse flour made from toasted maize kernels. Chia seeds placed in water or fruit juice is consumed in Mexico and known as chia fresca. The soaked seeds are gelatinous in texture and are used in gruels, porridges and puddings. Ground chia seed is used in baked goods including breads, cakes and biscuits. Chia sprouts are used in a similar manner as alfalfa sprouts in salads, sandwiches and other dishes.

This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.