There is evidence that chia seeds were first used as a food as early as 3500 B.C., and served as a cash crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. Chia seeds were eaten as a grain alone or mixed with other seed crops, consumed as a beverage when dissolved in water, and included in medicines.
Chia was one of the main dietary components not only of the Aztecs but also of the Mayan civilization. Chia was the main survival ration of the Aztec warrior. The Aztec diet consisted of only chia, maize, beans and amaranth and meets today’s dietary requirements set forth by the Food & Agriculture Organization-World Health Organization.
Many crops, including chia, that held a major role in pre-Columbian American diets, were banned by the Spanish because of their close association with religion, and were replaced by foreign products (wheat, barley, carrots, etc.) which were in demand in Europe.
Centuries later, modern science has shown the Aztec and Mayan diets were superior to present day diets. Chia seeds are emerging again asÂ a new superfood and offer tremendous opportunity to improve human nutrition by providing a natural source of Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.