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Chia seeds are like small, round sesame seeds. They come in black or white and keep very well - having a 5 year shelf life.
Chia (Salvia hispanica) is a plant of the genus Salvia in the Mint family. It originated in the central Valley of Mexico. It was largely cultivated by the Aztecs in pre-Columbian times as one of five major plant sources of food. After the arrival of the Spaniards, the plant became almost extinct because of cultural and religious reasons.
Chia seeds typically contain 20% protein, 34% oil, 25% or more of dietary fiber (mostly insoluble with high molecular weight), and significant levels of antioxidants. The oil from chia seeds contains a very high concentration of omega-3 fatty acid — approximately 64%. Chia seeds contain no gluten and trace levels of sodium.
Chia is grown commercially for its seed, a food that is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, since it is the vegetable source with the most omega-3 content, specifically a-linolenic acid (ALA). It also contains high levels of antioxidants and a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Chia seeds have an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) of 10,250 - four times the antioxidant value of blueberries, commonly considered to be a prime source of antioxidants.
Chia is a fantastic source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre. Soluble fibre is “soluble” in water. When mixed with water it forms a gel-like substance and swells. Soluble fibre has many benefits, including moderating blood glucose levels and lowering cholesterol. Insoluble fibre does not absorb or dissolve in water. It passes through the digestive system in close to its original form. Insoluble fibre offers many benefits to intestinal health, including regular gut function and can reduce the risk and occurrence of colon cancer.
Protein occurs in all living cells. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. The human body uses protein to build and repair tissues, to make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. The human body needs relatively large amounts of protein and must draw on it from the diet as protein isn’t stored in the body.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Of the amino acids found in proteins, some can be made by the body while others are essential in the diet. Amino acids are used for the synthesis of body proteins and can also be used as a source of dietary energy. Unusual in non-meat sources of protein, Chia contains all 8 essential amino acids in the correct ratio for us to absorb.
Data from http://www.thechiaco.com.au