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First things first:  Much of the following information is from the book "CHIA", co-authored by Dr. Wayne Coates Ph.D. Dr. Coates is the worlds foremost educator on chia and has been an inspiration to me. His passion for bringing chia into the mainstream diet in order to better the health of all people is equal to ours. I'd like to thank him here for answering my many questions and his support. He is a genius about chia. If you would like to do more reading about the history and science of chia I cannot recommend a better book.

  Historical records that survived the Spanish conquest show that the crops of the Valley of Tehuacan, near present day Mexico City, had included chia since 3400 BC (Schery, 1972; Solbrig and Solbrig, 1990; Harlan, 1992; Rodriquez Vallejo, 1992). At the time of the conquest, amaranth, corn, beans, and chia were the main components of the daily diet of Mesoamerica. Chia was prized not only for its nutritional value, but also as an important medicinal, especially for illness involving fevers or coughs (Anderson and Dibble, 1963:181; Hernandez, 1576:49; Planchon and Collin, 1895). The Spanish conquest suppressed the natives and their traditions, and destroyed most of the intensive agricultural production and commercialization system that had existed. Many indigenous crops were banned by the Spanish because of their close association with religion. Many others were replaced by foreign species that were in demand in European markets (Soustelle, 1955; Engel, 1987). Flours of amaranth and chia were used ceremonially by the Aztec, who made images of gods from dough that were cut into pieces and then eaten at the end of religious ceremonies. The similarities of this custom to Catholic communion horrified the friars, causing them to denounce this ceremony as heresy and discourage the cultivation of these crops (Sahagun, 1579; Duran, 1570, Solis, 1770). Chia managed to survive extinction as a crop by small groups of indigenous people in the mountains of Guatemala and southwestern Mexico. 

Currently, there are about 150 different types of agricultural crops worldwide (out of a total of about 250,000 plant species). In contrast, the pre-Columbian Aztec empire had 229 different types of cultivated crop plants. Today, 12 crops provide for the diets of over 75% of the world population, with 4 crops providing over half of the food eaten worldwide (wheat, rice, corn, & soybeans). There is much scientific evidence that this restricted diet plays an important role in the most prevalent ailments found in developed nations, such as cardiovascular disease, immune disorders, and cancer. These diseases are not as common in undeveloped nations where diets include as many as 200 different species of plants.

Imbalances in the types of fatty acids found in modern diets appears to account for many of the dietary-induced illnesses found in our country. For example, the ratio of saturated fatty acids to polyunsaturated fatty acids is about 3 times that found in prehistoric diets, and those of indigenous people today. Within the category of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), an even greater imbalance is found: the 1994-1986 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, published by the US Department of Agriculture, showing the average omega-6 to omega-3 ratio to be 10:1. This ratio is found to be closer to 2:1 in diets of prehistoric man and indigenous people today. Since mammals are unable to synthesize their own PUFAs, they are considered essential fatty acids. Numerous studies have found that the elevated omega-6 PUFA found in Western diets is a stronger risk factor for cardiovascular disease than is the serum level of cholesterol. Many scientific studies over the past few decades have demonstrated that an increase in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. (To give you an idea of the scope of the cardiovascular disease problem in our country, in 2003 the direct cost of cardiovascular disease in the US was $352 billion, according to the American Heart Association.) 

Since 1990, the Canadian and British governments have issued recommendations for dietary increases of omega-3 fatty acids and reductions in levels of omega-6 fatty acids. The US FDA has not similarly issued a recommendation for increased omega-3 fatty acids in diets, but has approved food supplement labeling to claim that a beneficial action of omega-e fatty acids is decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Many people today have turned to the consumption of flax seeds or flax seed oils for supplementing their diets with omega-3 fatty acids, but there are some serious problems with the use of flax seed in the diet. There are some toxins and antinutritional factors found in flax seed. 

“Flaxseed has been used by humans for four thousand years (Schery, 1972). Although attempts have been made to show flaxseed being used as a staple food, it has never used or even [been] considered as a food by any civilization. However, industrial products such as fiber for clothing and oil for lighting were made from the stalks and seeds, respectively, by a number of ancient cultures such as the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Arabs (Cooley, 1899; Gil, 1965p Crawford, 1979; Palagia, 1984; Mayerson, 1997). Flax is mentioned eighty-nine times in the Bible (Moldenke and Moldenke, 1952); however, it is never referred to as a food but rather as a source of fiber for clothing. 

“Flax has been questioned as a food because it contains a number of factors that interfere with the normal development of humans and animals. The concern about human use of flax is due mainly to the presence of toxic cianoglicosides (limarin), vitamin B6 antagonist factors (Butler, Bailey, and Kennedy, 1965; Stitt, 1988; Center for Alternative Plant and Animal Products, 1995, Vetter, 2000) and other antinutritional factors, including cyanogenic glycosides, trypsin inhibitors, phytic acid, allergens, and goitrogens (Madhusudhan et al., 1986; Bhatty, 1993; Trevino et al., 2000). All flax varieties contain these antinutritional factors. This includes FP967, a genetically modified variety that has a concentration of cyanogenic compounds (linamarin, linustatin, and neolinustatin) no different from traditional vaietyes (Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 1998). 

“The antagonistic factors of the vitamin B group that are found in flaxseeds have been specified as a risk factor for human health. Recent findings show that low blood levels of B vitamins are linked with an increased risk of fatal coronary heart disease and stroke (American Heart Association, 1999). Research on animals has brought to light concerns about the negative influence that flax has on pregnancy and reproductive development. These effects have been attributed to a compound known as diclycoside ecoisolariciresinol (SDG), which through microbial action suppresses the effect of estrogen in mammals. Flax is known to be the richest source of SDG, and therefore special caution is recommended if it is consumed during pregnancy and lactation (Toug, Chen, and Thompson, 1998; Rickard and Thompson, 1998). Both the complex ester form of SDG and the free form of SDG remain stable when flaxseeds are baked in bread (Muir and Westcott, 2000). Thus, commercially prepared bread, muffins, and cookies containing flax carry the warning of being potentially harmful. In order to safely use flax in animal and human diets the seeds should be detoxified. However, the most efficient processes require the use of solvents, and even in the best case the seeds cannot be completely detoxified (Madhusudhan et al., 1986; Mazza and Oomah, 1996). 

“Human consumption of flax is banned in France and limited in Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium (Le Conseil d’Etat, 1963; Hunter, 1988; Olivier, 1996). The United States Department of Agriculture put a limit on the amount of flaxseed that can be included in human diets. It is recommended that no more than 12 percent be used as a food ingredient (United States Department of Agriculture, 1999). In Argentina the use of flax oil to prepare dietary supplements, is authorized by the National Administration of Medicines, Food, and Medical Technology, but the use of flaxseed is not (Administracion Nacional de Medicamentos, Alimentos y Tecnologia Medica, 2001). 

Chia is a food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and protein. It has fewer carbohydrates when compared to most other grains. Chia seed has an oil content that ranges between 29 and 33 percent. In today’s market there are four readily available sources of omega-3 fatty acids: menhaden (an Atlantic fish of the herring family) oil, flaxseed, chia and algae. The omega-3 fatty acid content of chia oil is superior to all other sources: 

Chia oil 62-64 percent 
flaxseed oil 58% 
menhaden fish oil 29% 

The protein content of chia seed is also higher than most cereals: 

Chia 19-23% 
Wheat 14% 
Corn 10% 
Rice 6.5% 
Oats 17% 
Barley 12.5% 

The amino acid balance of chia also compares favorably with that of other cereals, having higher levels of lysine, methionine, and cysteine. 

Comparison of the vitamin content of chia with other crops shows that it is higher in niacin than corn, soybeans, rice, and safflower but lower in vitamin A than corn. Thiamin and riboflavin contents are similar to rice and corn but lower than soybeans and safflower. 

Chia seeds are an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper. It has 6 times more calcium, 11 times more phosphorus, and 4.6 times more potassium than does milk, according the USDA (2001), Brown (2003), and the Instituto Nacional de Alimentos (2003). 

Chia is highly enriched with antioxidants to protect its PUFAs from becoming oxidized and going rancid, to the extent that chia seed can be ground to flour and stored at room temperature until use (Taga, Miller, and Pratt, 1984; Castro-Martinez, Pratt, and Miller, 1986). The most important antioxidants in chia are chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid as well as myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol flavonols. These antioxidants have been shown to provide protection to lipids, proteins, and DNA from oxidation, and work to inhibit lipid peroxidation with strong free radical and superoxide scavenging activity. They are more effective than vitamin C and vitamin E in their antioxidant properties (Kweon, Hwang, and Sung, 2001). Epidemiological studies have indicated that consumption of high levels of flavonol-rich foods and beverages may protect against cardiovascular disease (Hertog et al., 1993; Hertog, Kromhout, and Aravanis, 1995; Hertog and Hollman 1996; Cook and Samaman, 1996; Knekt et al., 1996), stroke (Keli et al., 1996), lung cancer (Knekt et al., 1997), and stomach cancer (Garcia Closas et al., 1999).



High Fiber- 25%, 11 gms per ounce • Complete Protein- 4 gms per ounce • Gluten Free • Low Sodium • Best plant source of Omega 3 • Ideal ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 • Improves Endurance • Prolongs Hydration • Boron • Calcium • Iron • Copper • Phosphorus • Potassium • Manganese • Zinc • Vitamin A • Vitamin B1 • Vitamin B2 • Vitamin B3 • Vitamin B5 • Vitamin B6 • Vitamin C • Vitamin D • Vitamin E • Vitamin K • Choline • Folic acid • Inositol