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 16th-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 is still used today with the seeds ground or whole seeds for highly nutritious drinks and food source.
According to the USDA, a one ounce (28 gram) serving of chia seeds contains 9 grams of fat, 5 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of protein, 18% of the recommended daily intake of calcium, 27% phosphorus and 30% manganese. These nutrient values are similar to other edible seeds, such as flax or sesame.
In 2009, the European Union approved chia seeds as food.
Chia seeds may be added to other foods as a topping or put into smoothies, breakfast cereals, energy bars, yogurt, made into a gelatin-like substance, or consumed raw.
Studies have found that 10 weeks ingestion of 25 grams per day of milled chia seeds, compared to intact seeds, produced higher blood levels of alpha-linolenic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 long-chain fatty acid considered good for the heart, while decreasing inflammation and disease risk factors.