If you are a smoothies, baked products, or protein bars fan, you must have come across chia seeds. Also known scientifically as Salvia hispanica, these nutrient-filled products are from the mint family. They can grow up to 3 feet high, producing long, wide leaves.
From health benefits to nutritional value, there is no limit to the gains you can get from chia seeds. But how well do you know these famous plants? Here, we uncover some of the lesser-known facts about chia seeds.
1. Chia Seeds Are Native to South America
Even though most people associated chia seeds with Mexico, Guatemala might have something to say. Technically, most of the central parts of the South American region can grow and harvest chia seeds.
Over time, other regions in North and South America have embraced chia seed farming, making it a global phenomenon that it is today. The states that actively grow chia seeds in the U.S. include Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. In the Aztec language of Nahuatl, chia loosely translates to “oily.”
2. They Have Many Recipes
Chia seeds are a global delicacy today. As expected, with different diversities and cuisines, there are unlimited recipes for these beloved seeds. Some of the most popular ones include:
- Chia water
- Chia in smoothies
- Adding chia in a stir-fry
- Chia cereal
- Baked in cakes
- Add in jam
- Used in breakfast bars
- Can make yogurt
- Perfect in deeps
- Chia truffles are perfect
3. Chia Leaves are Also Edible
Many people know chia seeds and their benefits, but did you know chia leaves are also edible? Yes, they are! When young, the leaves are tender enough to be boiled and fried to make a nutritious delicacy.
4. It can Be Used As Animal Feed
Companies such as the U.S. Chia are using chia seeds as an additive to horse feed. Meals with chia seeds have minerals, proteins, and antioxidants. The demand is so high that people are growing the seeds for commercial purposes. Not to mention that the cosmetics industry also relies on them.
5. Chia Seeds Provide the Much-Needed Nutrients
Chia seeds wouldn’t be as popular if they had no nutritional value. They are highly nutritious and contain lots of fiber. If anything, scientists estimate that taking two tablespoons of these products is equivalent to taking an egg. For people allergic to eggs, here is an alternative for you.
They also contain omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. If you dislike salmon or fish, chia seeds might be the option you are looking for.
6. There Are Side Effects of Too Much Chia Seeds
Recently, there have been growing concerns about chia seeds’ ability to stabilize blood sugar, especially in patients who have diabetes. If anything, an ongoing study seeks to clarify if there is a relationship between the spiking cases of diabetes and chia seeds.
Many people from countries where chia seeds are native are continuously dumping what was once their favorite diet. Other possible side benefits of chia seeds include:
- Digestive issues
- Allergic reactions
- Possible weight gain
It is important to note that, if taken in moderation, chia seeds are hugely beneficial, and there is no need to cause alarm about their viability.
7. Chia Seeds Are “Fire Following” Species
Guatemala and Mexico are hugely surrounded by trees and herbs. As a result, forest fires are not uncommon. Interestingly, chia seeds thrive in areas affected by fire. You will find your best harvest in burned regions before the seeds grow.
8. Soaking Chia Seeds Can Help Minimize Side Effects
Prolonged soaking of chia seeds before cooking can help minimize problems such as stomach upsets. The seeds also contain some enzyme inhibitors that may prevent effective nutrient absorption. Soaking them helps reduce this possibility.