Chia (Salvia hispanica)


Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) is a plant that belongs to the Lamiaceae (mint) family. Chia is believed to have come from Central America where the chia seed was considered a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. Native Americans in the southwestern United States used the seeds of a related plant, "golden chia" or Salva columbariae. People in China and other countries use the roots of another relative, "dan shen" or Salvia miltiorrhiza, for medicinal purposes.
Chia is promoted for its high omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 content. Animal studies suggest that chia may lower blood cholesterol, LDL (low density lipoproteins or "bad" cholesterol), and triglycerides while increasing HDL (high density lipoproteins or "good" cholesterol). Chia may also have anti-cancer activity. Studies in humans are limited.
Salba® is a registered variety of chia that is marketed by Core Naturals, LLC. Light in color, Salba® reportedly contains more omega-3 fatty acids than typical dark-colored chia seeds. Recent human studies suggest that Salba® may decrease the risk of heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes.

Related Terms

Chia, chia fresca, cryptotanshinone, dan shen (Chinese), danshen (Chinese), golden chia, ilepesh (Chumas), Lamiaceae (family), Mexican chia, miltionone, pashi (Native American), running food, Salba®, SalbaMune™, Salvia columbariae, Salvia columbariae Benth., Salvia hispanica L., Salvia miltiorrhiza, tanshinone, white Salba®.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Cardiovascular disease prevention / atherosclerosis (Grade: B)
Early studies in animals and humans suggest that diets containing chia seed may decrease risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Evidence suggests that the benefits of Salba® in humans are similar to those of other whole grains. Further study is needed.