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The Aztec and Maya seed arrives in Europe

From this year, up to 10% of chia seeds may be included in bread, breakfast cereals and bags of nuts sold in the European Union. The seeds of this herb, which the people of Central America have been consuming for centuries, are rich in omega-3, fibre, proteins, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Las semillas de chía son ricas en omega-3 y compuestos antioxidantes. Photo: Loreto Muñoz et al.

Desde este año se permite incluir hasta un 10% de semillas de chía en el pan, los cereales del desayuno y las bolsas de frutos secos que se comercializan en la Unión Europea. Los granos de esta hierba, que desde hace siglos consumen los pueblos centroamericanos, son ricos en omega-3, fibra, proteínas, antioxidantes, vitaminas y minerales.

El pan puede contener hasta un 10% de semillas de chía. Photo: Ester Iglesias & Monika Haros

Desde este año se permite incluir hasta un 10% de semillas de chía en el pan, los cereales del desayuno y las bolsas de frutos secos que se comercializan en la Unión Europea. Los granos de esta hierba, que desde hace siglos consumen los pueblos centroamericanos, son ricos en omega-3, fibra, proteínas, antioxidantes, vitaminas y minerales.

Las semillas de chía son ricas en omega-3 y compuestos antioxidantes. Photo: Loreto Muñoz et al.

Desde este año se permite incluir hasta un 10% de semillas de chía en el pan, los cereales del desayuno y las bolsas de frutos secos que se comercializan en la Unión Europea. Los granos de esta hierba, que desde hace siglos consumen los pueblos centroamericanos, son ricos en omega-3, fibra, proteínas, antioxidantes, vitaminas y minerales.

El pan puede contener hasta un 10% de semillas de chía. Photo: Ester Iglesias & Monika Haros

Desde este año se permite incluir hasta un 10% de semillas de chía en el pan, los cereales del desayuno y las bolsas de frutos secos que se comercializan en la Unión Europea. Los granos de esta hierba, que desde hace siglos consumen los pueblos centroamericanos, son ricos en omega-3, fibra, proteínas, antioxidantes, vitaminas y minerales.

Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) have been a staple food in Mesoamerican cultures for centuries. The Aztecs and Maya also used them in the preparation of medicine and body paint and also as offerings to their gods.

Nowadays, these seeds are sold in the US and other countries in the Americas, but they are still largely unknown in Europe. However, from January 2013, the European Union authorised the inclusion of up to 10% chia seeds in bread products, breakfast cereals and nuts.

“Chia seeds have a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, anti-oxidant compounds (such as flavonoids, beta-carotene and tocopherol), vitamins and minerals (calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium),” Monika Haros, researcher at the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC), told SINC.

The scientist is co-author of an article published in the magazine ‘European Food Research and Technology’, in which the advantages of adding chia seeds to bread are listed: “The samples to which they were added showed a significant increase in proteins, lipids and dietary fibre, and greater acceptance by the consumer”.

Other studies, such as that published by the Santiago de Compostela University (USC) and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile University in ‘Food Reviews International’ agree on the nutritional properties and benefits for human health provided by these seeds.

“They can in fact be considered a functional food, since in addition to their nutritional properties, they increase satiation and help prevent cardiovascular diseases, nervous system disorders and diabetes,” said Loreto Muñoz, the lead author.

The researcher highlights the high fibre content (between 18% and 30%) of these seeds, since they contain mucilage (viscous plant substance), which absorbs high amounts of water. This helps the intestines work properly.

“Soluble fibre is becoming increasingly important every day due to its beneficial effects on obesity, type 2 diabetes, cholesterol and prevention of some cardiovascular problems,” stated Muñoz.

The word ‘chía’ is an adaptation to Spanish of the plural chian, which means ‘oily’ in the Central American Nahuatl language. The virtues of this herb were described in the Florentine Codex or Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España (Universal History of the Things of New Spain), written in Nahuatl and Spanish, not long after the conquest of Mexico.

References:

Loreto A. Muñoz, Angel Cobos, Olga Diaz, José Miguel Aguilera. “Chia Seed (Salvia hispanica): An Ancient Grain and a New Functional Food”. Food Reviews International 29: 394–408, 2013.

Esther Iglesias-Puig, Monika Haros. “Evaluation of performance of dough and bread incorporating chia (Salvia hispanica L.)”. European Food Research and Technology 237: 865–874, 2013. Doi: 10.1007/s00217-013-2067-x.

Source: SINC
Copyright: Creative Commons

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