Chia - An indispensable food crop
Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) is a traditional food crop belonging to Lamiacea family, native of Central and Southern America. It is widely consumed for various health benefits especially in maintaining healthy serum lipid level contributed by phenolic acid, omega-3 and omega-6 oil present in the chia seed. It is a plant of great economic importance to many Native American tribes in California, who have long used chia for food and medicinal purposes. Salvia hispanica L. acquired the common name chia from the indigenous South American people of the pre-Columbian and Aztec eras due to its medicinal uses. Salvia hispanica is the only domesticated plant, and not any other species of the genus Salvia. However, misidentification can occur due to similarities with the wild species.
Chia seed and leaves are known to be protein-rich with good balance of essential amino acids making it suitable for malnourished children and adults who need better access to protein-rich food supply. The use of food with nutraceutical and functional properties for management of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems is now gaining momentum among the public.
Chia plant in the field
Mixture of black and white chia seeds