iPhoneOgraphy – 16 Jun 2016 (Day 168/366)
Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. The sixteenth-century Codex Mendoza provides evidence that it was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times; economic historians have suggested it was as important as maize as a food crop. It was given as an annual tribute by the people to the rulers in 21 of the 38 Aztec provincial states. Ground or whole chia seeds still are used in Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Mexico, and Guatemala for nutritious drinks and as a food source.
Chia is grown commercially for its seed, a food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, since the seeds yield 25–30% extractable oil, including a-linolenic acid. Of total fat, the composition of the oil may be 55%, 18%, 6%, and 10% saturated fat.
Typically, chia seeds are small ovals with a diameter of approximately 1 mm (0.039 in). They are mottle-colored with brown, gray, black, and white. The seeds are hydrophilic, absorbing up to 12 times their weight in liquid when soaked. While soaking, the seeds develop a mucilaginous coating that gives chia-based beverages a distinctive gel texture.
Chia (or chian or chien) has mostly been identified as Salvia hispanica L. Today, chia is grown and consumed commercially in its native Mexico, as well as in Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Australia. New patented varieties of chia have been developed in Kentucky for cultivation in northern latitudes of the United States.
A 100-gram serving of chia seeds is a rich source of the B vitamins, thiamine, and niacin (54% and 59%, respectively of the Daily Value (DV), and a good source of the B vitamins riboflavin and folate (14% and 12%, respectively). The same amount of chia seeds is also a rich source of the dietary minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc (more than 20% DV) (table).
In 2009, the European Union approved chia seeds as a novel food, allowing chia to be 5% of a bread product’s total matter.
Chia seeds may be added to other foods as a topping or put into smoothies, breakfast cereals, energy bars, granola bars, yogurt, tortillas, and bread. They also may be made into a gelatin-like substance or consumed raw. The gel from ground seeds may be used to replace as much as 25% of the egg content and oil in cakes while providing other nutrients. Chia seed (tokhm-e-sharbatī, meaning “beverage seed”) is used to prepare a sharbat (cold beverage) in Iran.