Chia seeds are enjoying newfound popularity due to their wide range of nutritional and health benefits.
The chia is an annual herb that grows freely in warm zones, and is native to Mexico and Guatemala. The name is a Mayan word that means “strength” but is also derived from an Aztec word for “oily”. It is also known by its botanical name which is Salvia hispanica. A member of the Lamiaceae or mint family, salvia is the largest genus. These types of plants are known for assertive growth and, in some cases, aggressive spread, as with many mint plants.
Chia plants are very low-care once established. The chia’s flowers form on spikes that resemble wheat, on stalks that can grow up to five feet tall. The tiny bell-shaped flowers on display from late spring to early summer are a pleasing violet-blue color. Although the plant has some ornamental value in itself, the chia’s real star-quality comes from its seeds.
The chia’s seeds are a valuable food crop commonly known as a “pseudocereal” since it’s a seed and not a grain. They’re grown throughout Mexico and Guatemala for this purpose, as well as the southeastern United States.
The seed’s high oil content is caloric and it is bursting with nutrients including thiamine, niacin and various dietary minerals including manganese, selenium, phosphorous, and copper.
They also contain antioxidant compounds, including quercetin. These compounds are believed to reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases, including heart disease. The antioxidants also give chia seeds a very long shelf life, as they help prevent rancidity. This can be a problem with the storage of other oil-producing seeds. Chia seeds also have plenty of fiber, high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Chia seeds have been studied extensively for their health benefits and have been recommended for diabetes treatment, and helping to lower cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and blood pressure. These heart-healthy seeds are commonly added to commercial foods like cereal, granola bars, yogurt, and baked goods. They are frequently added to smoothies for a nutritional boost. The seeds can also be prepared with water to make a gelatinous substitute for eggs, commonly used in vegan baking, similar to how flax seeds can be used to make an egg replacement.
Chia plants do best in full sun. They’re very tolerant of heat, even in the hottest days of summer.
These plants are very adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions. Their native regions tend to have sandy soil, but they’ll do well in clay soils as well. Good drainage is important, however, as chia plants don’t like to stay too wet. If growing your chia plants in pots, use a commercial growing mix with a bit of sand added, and use unglazed terracotta pots for good moisture absorption.
Chia plants are very drought-tolerant. They benefit from regular watering until they’re established, but after that may need little to no additional watering, as they tend to adjust to all sorts of conditions. They’re known to be one of the first plants to re-emerge after a fire, an indication of their hardiness and adaptability.
Package Size: 100 seeds per pack
Germination Rate: 70%
Germination Time: 14 – 21 Days
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