Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala.
The sixteenth-century Codex Mendoza provides evidence that it was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times; economic historians have suggested it was as important as maize as a food crop.
Ground or whole chia seeds still are used in Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Mexico, and Guatemala for nutritious drinks and as a food source.
Chia is grown commercially for its seed, a food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, since the seeds yield 25–30% extractable oil, including α-linolenic acid. Of total fat, the composition of the oil may be 55% ω-3, 18% ω-6, 6% ω-9, and 10% saturated fat. A 100-gram serving of chia seeds is a rich source of the B vitamins, thiamine, and niacin (54% and 59%, respectively of the daily value (DV), and a good source of the B vitamins riboflavin and folate (14% and 12%, respectively).
The same amount of chia seeds is also a rich source of the dietary minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc (more than 20% DV) (table). In 2009, the European Union approved chia seeds as a novel food, allowing chia to be 5% of a bread product's total matter.
Chia seeds may be added to other foods as a topping or put into smoothies, breakfast cereals, energy bars, granola bars, yogurt, tortillas, and bread. They also may be made into a gelatin-like substance or consumed raw.The gel may be used to replace as much as 25% of the egg content and oil in cakes while providing other nutrients.