MUNICH (dpa) – Chia seeds are the latest novelty superfood to hit supermarket shelves, popping up in everything from snacks to power bars and drinks.
Rated as high in omega 3 fatty acids and fibre, the tiny seeds, which come from a mint plant native to Mexico and Guatemala, assist the digestive process and are also very versatile which makes them a food of choice for health-conscious hipsters.
Thought to be a very important food crop to the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilisations, chia is now a key element of what has become known as the Aztec Diet but some consumer health organisations question whether chia truly deserves its superfood status.
The Bavarian Consumer Advice Centre in Germany argues there is no scientific basis for some of the many benefits attributed to chia. The seeds are also expensive to buy, with much cheaper omega-3 alternatives available such as ground flax seed, rapeseed oil and nuts.
Chia seeds, which can be consumed raw, dried or prepared in a meal such as muesli, are made up of 20 per cent protein, 30 per cent fat and up to 40 per cent carbohydrates.
One kilogramme of seeds costs on average between 15 and 20 euros (19.40 and 25.90 dollars).
People should not consume more than 15 grammes of chia seeds a day, and consumer advocates believe this should be clearly stated on all packaging.