Chia was one of the main foods of both the Aztec and the Mayan diet.
They used Chia as a raw material for medicines and nutritional compounds.
Chia has more energy, protein, lipids, and fiber than corn, wheat, rice, or oats.
Chia is low in sodium and is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and zinc.
Chia provides a natural, plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and dietary
Chia seeds contain more alpha-linolenic acid (63%) than any other seed.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal growth and development and in the treatment
of coronary heart disease, mental health problems, arthritis, and other chronic diseases.
Today 250,000 species of plants have been identified.
About 3,000 plants have been investigated for food or other uses; however, just 100 have been
studied in depth.
Throughout time humans have tended to concentrate on obtaining nourishment from a few plants.
Today only 150 plant species are cultivated, 12 of them providing 75% of our food consumed.
Most people in the world are fed with cereals such as wheat, rice, millet, and sorghum;
tubers such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and casava; legumes such as beans, soybeans,
and peanuts; and other crops such as sugarcane, sugar beets, cocoa, and bananas.
The human food supply depends on a small number of species, and the failure of one of them
could mean starvation for millions of people.
The need to return to searching for new plants to broaden available food types and hence diversify
the human diet is urgent if we are to ensure the future of humanity.
It is time to consider rescuing a number of ancient crops that were forced into obscurity
through the passage of time.
After Christopher Columbus arrived many basic foods of the New World were replaced with
crops brought by the Spanish conquerors.
Consumer demand in Europe dictated the cultivation priorities in the New World.
As a consequence, most pre-Columbian crops were retained only in isolated communities and today in many cases are
A good example of one of these forgotten pre-Columbiam crops is Chia (Salvia hispanica L.),
one of the main Aztec crops at the time of Columbus's arrival in the New World.
Chia seed contains oil with the highest omega-3 fatty acid content available from plants.
Today this species is practically unknown from a nutritional standpoint; instead, it is
known only because of its use in Chia Pets.
Miami diet The importance of Omega-3 fatty Acids.
Modern western diets are characterized by increased amounts of fatty, saturated fat, trans-fatty acids,
and omega-6 fatty acids and decreased amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
People have become very dependent upon cereal grains.
Hunters ate more than one hundred species of plants and animals in the course of a year.
Modern humans depend on barely 20 species of plants (barley, wheat, corn and rice form 70% of modern western diets) four mammals (goats, cattle, pigs, and sheep), and 1 bird (chicken) for the bulk of their nourishment.
Heart diseases, depression, breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and stomach cancer are all affected by diet.
The main deficiencies in cereals are vitamin A, C, beta-carotene, calcium, sodium, omega-3 fatty acids, and amino acids such as threonine and lysine.
When the Spaniards arrived in America, the Aztec diet included up to 229 different plants.
According to the centers for disease control and prevention of the United States department of health and human services, the U.S. Hispanic population has a significantly lower rate of death from cardiovascular diseases, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer than the general U.S. population.
Of the vegetable oils used in human nutrition 80% come from only 5 crops (soybean, palm, peanut, sunflower, and canola).These oils are low in omega-3 fatty acids.
Consumption of these oils causes an imbalance in the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid ratio in the diet and also causes a dramatic increase of chronic diseases.
Lipids have 9 calories per gram, compared to proteins and carbohydrates, which have only 4 calories per gram.
Fatty acids are the building blocks of lipids.
Fatty acids stimulate and maintain life functions in humans.
In Western diets fatty acids constitute the major source of calories.
In undeveloped countries carbohydrates are the major source of calories.
Relative amounts of fatty acids in vegetable oils (%)
Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) cannot be synthesized by the human body they must be provided by the diet.
Fatty acids are known by their initials: SFAs (saturated fatty acids), MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), and PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids).
A deficiency in PUFAs in the diet is characterized by skin damage, disturbances in growth and hormonal balance, and excessive loss of water through the skin.
Lipids, Fatty Acids, and Coronary Heart Disease.
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death in the U.S. they account for 40% of deaths annually.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is related to nutrition.
Risk factors associated with CHD: High plasmatic cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, sedentarism, diabetes, high plasmatic triglycerides,
high homocysteine levels, and family history.
The 3 major risk factors for CHD are smoking, high blood pressure, and high plasmatic cholesterol.
The risk of developing CHD is directly related to serum cholesterol levels.
A decline in plasmatic cholesterol decreases or reverses the progression of cardiovascular diseases.
SFAs (saturated fatty acids) are the predominant dietary factor contributing to CHD.
Consumption of foods high in saturated fats increases blood plasma cholesterol.
Oleic acid is the most commom MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acid) it can be synthesized in the human body.
The most commom sources of oleic fatty acid are canola, olive, sesame oil, oleic sunflower, oleic safflower, and oleic corn.
The beneficial effects of oleic acid in general and olive oil in particular in terms of their effects on CHD were exaggerated.