shopping Chia - one variety
Chia seed, whole image
[ 781 ]Salvia hispanica

Chia Seed Whole

1/4 Pound:  $4.83 Pound:  $10.73 
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Wholesale Chia

Salvia hispanica
plant overview
the superfood strength of chia

Chia is a plant in the mint family that is native to Mexico and South America. If the name sounds familiar, it might be because you once nurtured a Chia Pet, a novelty item that involves sprouting chia seed through a terra cotta container shaped like an animal. The tiny seeds have gained notoriety in recent years as a “super food,” although it was used by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans of South America to sustain them while traveling long distances with little provisions. In fact, “chia” is the Mayan word for “strength.”

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A Bit of Botany

a little botanical information about chia

Chia is an annual herb in the Lamiaceae or mint family growing up to 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, with opposite leaves that are 4–8 cm (1.6–3.1 in) long and 3–5 cm (1.2–2.0 in) wide. Its flowers are purple or white and are produced in numerous clusters in a spike at the end of each stem. It is in flower from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphroditic. Chia is hardy from USDA Zones 9-12. Many plants cultivated as S. hispanica are actually S. lavandulifolia.

Chia seeds are typically small ovals with a diameter of about 1 mm (0.039 in). They are mottle-colored with brown, gray, black and white.

common names & nomenclature
The word chia is derived from the Nahuatl word chian, meaning "oily".

Also known as:
chia, chia seeds, salba seeds, sabja seeds or salvia hispanica

Chia, the superfood plant

Where in the World

habitat and range for chia

habitat and range for chia
Chia is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. Chia thrives best in warm climates and has been successful in even southern parts of North America. The rising popularity of chia seeds has expanded the plant’s domain, now grown outside of Mexico and Guatemala in places like the southeastern United States and other parts of South America. The plant’s scientific name, Salvia hispanica, is a member of the mint family.

Cultivation & Harvesting

considerations for growing and harvesting chia

Chia grows best in a warm sunny location.

Chia prefers a light to medium well-drained fertile soil.

Sow chia seeds in March/April in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within 2 weeks. Transplant out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant out in late spring or early summer. The seed can also be sown directly in the ground during April/May, though this sowing might not mature its seed in a cool summer.

Begin harvesting your chia flowers as soon as most of the petals have fallen. Give them time to dry in paper bags or on a drying rack, but prepare for at least some of the chia seeds to break free in the process. Do not hang the plants upside down in your shed. Once the flowers are dry, crumple them in your hands over a sieve or bowl to loosen the seeds, separate out the seeds from the other plant parts.

Store chia seeds Store your bulk chia seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

The Rest of the Story

additional information

Chia seed is obtained from the Mexican native chia plant (Salvia hispanica), so named after the Mayan word meaning “strength.” It would seem that the plant was aptly named since the seeds were known by several indigenous peoples to promote endurance. In fact, chia seed was often the only source of nutrition consumed by the ancient Aztecs and southwestern tribes of the U.S. while traveling great distances in pursuit of conquest or trade. This tradition does not appear to have been lost since many athletes regularly partake of chia seed to help increase stamina and performance today.

Nutritionally speaking, chia seed packs a wallop. Aside from consisting of about 30% protein, chia seed delivers an abundance of vitamins A, B, D, E and K. They also contain alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid, essential fatty acids that the body cannot manufacture on its own. In terms of other nutrients and minerals, the list is lengthy. A run down by alphabetical order: calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, sodium, sulfur, thiamine, and zinc. Finally, chia seed is the richest plant-based source of omega-3 available.

Chia seed is also an excellence source of soluble fiber. In fact, due to its hydrophilic properties it can absorb up to 12 times its volume in water. This activity has two benefits. First, it helps to keep the body hydrated, which is important for proper cellular metabolism and renewal. Secondly, it reduces transit time in the gastrointestinal tract while enhancing the absorption of vitamins and minerals.

The hydrophilic properties of chia seed also permit the formation of hydrophilic colloids, a mucilaginous substance similar in appearance to gelatin. This is the same benefit obtained from eating raw vegetables versus cooked, only it’s not necessary to swallow a bunch of chia seeds in order for this event take place. As you’ll learn in a moment, all that’s needed is a container of water.

weight loss
The mechanism behind chia seed's ability to act as a weight loss aid is quite simple. In short, its extraordinary ability to absorb water translates to displacing fat and calories when added to foods. The ideal ratio for this conversion is 9:1, or nine parts liquid to one part chia seed. Here’s an experiment to try:
Science is fun but, in this case, you can eat your experiment. In fact, you’ve just made a delicacy known to Mexican natives as chia fresca. If you add three to four tablespoons of this substance to non-baked foods at least three times a day, you’ll be adding significant bulk to your diet (read that as appetite suppressant) and replacing fat and calories with a material consisting of 90% water. Chia gel can be made with juice in place of the water, and added to sauces, cereals, jams, puddings, yogurt, or smoothies. It can also be prepared in an 8:1 ratio and added to baked goods in place of oil. Kept refrigerated, the gel will keep fresh for about three weeks.

What does hydrophilic colloid of chia seed taste like? Fear not. The seeds impart a very mild nutty flavor that won’t overpower other foods. However, if you prefer, you can simply forego chia gel and eat up to four tablespoons of the seeds instead. For that matter, chia seed are delicious toasted. The seeds can also be sprouted for a tasty and nutritious addition to sandwiches.

regulate blood sugar
The same hydrophilic properties that permit chia seed to encourage weight loss may also responsible for contributing to the regulation of serum glucose levels. That is, the same gel-forming process described above also takes place in the stomach and helps to block the conversion of carbohydrates to sugars. In fact, Canadian researchers have recently found that regular consumption of chia seed reduced blood sugar levels in patients with type II diabetes.
There are other attributes of chia seed that are suspected of causing this effect, too. For one thing, the high vitamin C content may play a role in inhibiting aldose reductase, the enzyme that converts glucose to sorbitol. Normally, some degree of sorbitol is converted to fructose and any excess sorbitol is excreted. However, if there isn’t enough cellular glucose available, this conversion doesn’t take place and an accumulation of sorbitol occurs. This accumulation is a major contributor to diabetes-related complications. In fact, high concentrations of sorbitol can be found in the nerve, eye and kidney cells of diabetics. Further, since the delivery of vitamin C to cells is insulin-driven, diabetics may be deficient in this important antioxidant to begin with.

The researchers also found that chia seed supplementation reduces blood pressure, blood clotting, and inflammation in diabetes subjects. This was evidenced by a 30% decrease in serum C-reactive protein, a primary marker for inflammation, and a similar decrease in blood clotting factors. The reduction in blood pressure was attributed to 80% of the trial subjects experiencing elevated levels of EPA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid.

Chia seed is also a good source of vitamin E. Vitamin E has consistently shown to be helpful in improving insulin sensitivity and may help to deter the development of certain diabetes-related complications, including peripheral neuropathy.

nutritional breakdown of chia
Brace yourself. A mere one-fourth cup of chia seeds—that’s four tablespoons— supplies as much calcium as three cups of milk, as much magnesium as ten stalks of broccoli, as much iron as one-half cup of red kidney beans, 30% more antioxidants than blueberries, 25% more dietary fiber than flaxseed, and approximately the same amount of omega-3 as that found in a 32-ounce fillet of salmon. It’s little wonder that the Aztecs could run for days at a time on nothing other than chia seeds.

Formulas & recipes
Chia seed benefits
There is a reason chia seeds have become so popular in the last decade or so. The seeds are full of protein and contain a large variety of minerals, vitamins, and constituents–there is a reason chia seeds are referred to as a “superfood.” The best chia seeds to buy are usually online, wholesale amounts. Buying chia seeds wholesale benefits the customer since chia seeds don’t expire quickly and can be used for a large variety of recipes. Chia seeds are commonly added to dishes to add extra nutritional value.

Recipe for chia seeds
Chia Pudding
¼ cup chia seeds
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
In a medium bowl or jar, mix the chia seeds, almond milk, and maple syrup until well combined. Let the mixture sit for about 5-7 minutes and place the mixture in the fridge overnight or for a long period of time. If the mixture doesn’t seem thick enough, just add more chia seeds. After the chia pudding sits in the fridge, enjoy with toppings like fresh fruit, granola, or anything that sounds good!

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised:  Before making any changes to your diet you should always consult with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or have existing conditions.

All reviews solely reflect the views and opinions expressed by the reviewer and not that of Monterey Bay Herb Co. We do not verify or endorse any claims made by any reviewer. None of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.