The seeds of change may start small, but in the right environment, they grow mighty. That can certainly be said of the chia plant, whose minuscule seed grains nourished ancient civilizations for centuries - and has, in recent decades, experienced a revitalization as a superfood ideal for meeting the needs of modern consumers.
Most of us refer to chia as a seed, though it’s technically a grain. Regardless of how consumers categorize it, the tiny black or white orbs far surpass their seed or grain counterparts when it comes to nutrition: Chia brings together protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and an array of minerals, all in a package no bigger than a pinhead. In fact, it’s the richest source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids you can find in nature.
An Ancient Food with the highest Omega-3 content found in Nature: with unsuspected health benefits, Chia is an amazing sustainable source of essential nutrients.
This unique nutritional profile has made it possible for chia to sustain advanced civilizations such as the Aztecs and the Mayans. And today, a mounting body of evidence shows that the grain has the potential to aid in addressing some of our most pressing health concerns, including heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, and neurocognitive and neurodegenerative conditions. Chia’s nutritional components have also proven integral to fetal and child development, positioning it to support the health of coming generations through pre- and postnatal nutrition.
Chia, too, is a food that supports the health of the planet. Requiring few resources to thrive in its native environment, the crop supports humanity’s need for increased sustainability, reduced water usage, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions in our global food supply. It also contributes little to no waste in terms of unusable byproducts. The versatile grains can be enjoyed whole (both raw or soaked) or cold-pressed into a nutrient-dense oil, while the leftover matter can be ground in a fiber- and protein-rich flour.
Altogether, chia’s nutrition, sustainability, and versatility make it a highly appealing option for consumers and food manufacturers. Here’s a closer look at what the science has uncovered about this impressive little seed, and how chia can be utilized to support the health of people and our planet as a whole.