Chia (Salva hispanica) is a species of flowering plant that belongs to the mint family. They have also been used for centuries by the indigenous peoples of Central and South America, due to their numerous nutritional benefits. Chia is native to central and southern Mexico but is also grown commercially as a food crop in South America and Australia, with Australia being the world's largest producer. The seeds of the Chia plant are typically tiny ovals around 2mm in long.
Per 100 grams they provide great nutrition with good amounts of dietary fibre, protein, magnesium and calcium.
They are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and also Niacin and Thiamine, important B Vitamins. Known for having high levels of antioxidants, Chia seeds also help to cleanse the body by flushing out unwanted free radicals. Their high fibre content is certainly beneficial and consumption of these seeds is common amongst athletes who welcome the increase in the energy levels they provide.
Another benefit of the seeds is that they have a low calorie content and absorb up to 12 times their own weight in water. This makes them especially appealing for those who are trying to lose or control their weight. They are typically added into yoghurt, cereals, smoothies and other similar foodstuffs, but could just as easily be added into bread, tortillas or even sprinkled into salads.
You can eat them straight out of the bag but it's easier to combine them with other foods. They can also be ground up before being sprinkled liberally on cereal or yoghurt or included in recipes. It has been said that they make a great egg replacement.