20 Nov Origin, evolution and future of chia seeds
Chia seeds were first used back in 3500 B.C. in South and Central America. The name comes from the Mayan word “Chía”, meaning strength. It is believed that Chia seeds were used by the Maya messengers, which could carry in a small bag enough chia seeds to feed and support themselves during long journeys, increasing their resistance.
For the Aztecs the chia was also considered as a medicine and was used in multiple ways, such as stimulate saliva, relieve joint pain and soothe irritated skin.
In South America was an important crop, but after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec and Mayan Empire, back in 1520, the European authorities banned it because the indigenous people used seeds as offerings in religious rituals.
Recover of lost nutritional plants
Chia seeds were later replaced by other popular seeds as corn. They were lost for decades, until a project by a group of scientists, nutritionists and agriculturalists was launched in 1991 to recover lost nutritional plants in the Aztec traditions and civilizations, including chia seeds.
Despite the recent popularity that chia seeds have acquired, this small black and white seeds were a major component of Aztec and Mayan diets in pre-Columbian times, as well as quinoa and amaranth, and acted as the basic food for the survival of the Aztec warriors. They also used chia seeds to make oil and mixed with water to drink it as a beverage.
Chia seeds are now mostly cultivated in Bolivia, Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Argentina, Ecuador, Australia and Peru also produce it. Chia seeds are cultivated in light soils, with low humidity, as most of salvias. The area of Bolivia is where the chia seeds are produced with the best quality. This is because of its location and treatment. For example, the extremely low humidity that Bolivian chia are exposed to, lead to a unique chia oil greatness. After the chia seeds are produced, they are exported to Europe, North America, Japan and China, among other places, because of the variety of meals in which chia seeds can be used all around the world.
Experts have declared that chia seeds are the food of the future. This is not because chia seeds have become a trend today, seen in many blogs and food Instagram accounts, but because their properties are real, known for centuries and recognized as a super food.
Chia: the caviar of seeds!