Chia (Salvia Hispanica): An Overview of Its Botany, Uses, Reproductive, Biology, Pharmacological Properties and Industrial Potentials

Review Article

Austin J Pharmacol Ther. 2023; 11(2): 1172.

Chia (Salvia Hispanica): An Overview of Its Botany, Uses, Reproductive, Biology, Pharmacological Properties and Industrial Potentials

El Kahkahi Rahal¹*; Moustaine Meryama²; et Zouhair Rachid¹

¹Laboratory of Plant Biotechnology and Molecular Biology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University Moulay Ismail, Morocco

²Laboratory of Botany and Plant Protection, Faculty of Sciences, University Ibn Tofail, BP 133, University Campus, Morocco

*Corresponding author: Rahal El Kahkahi Laboratory of Plant Biotechnology and Molecular Biology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University Moulay Ismail, PO. Box 11201, Zitoune, Meknes, Morocco. Email: [email protected]

Received: August 02, 2023 Accepted: September 20, 2023 Published: September 27, 2023


The consumption of chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) has increased in recent years due to its high content of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and dietary fibre. This seed also has a high concentration of proteins and essential amino acids, becoming a promising source of bioactive compounds such as chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol with the major phenolic acid being rosmarinic acide. Owing to the rich nutritional profile, chia seeds provide numerous health benefits such as cardiac and hepatic protective effects, anti-aging and anti-carcinogenic properties. The high amounts of dietary fibres present in the seeds also confer benefits by preserving good glycemic control thus helping in controlling diabetes mellitus. In addition to the food industry for the development of various baked products, production of biodegradable edible films, use as emulsifiers and stabilizers among other uses. In this article we have focused on drafting a technical description of the chia.

Keywords: Salvia hispanica; Nutritional; Fatty acids; Fibre and health benefits


Chia (Salvia hispanica L.), is an annual herbaceous plant belonging to the Lamiaceae family. This botanical species, native to southern Mexico and Northern Guatemala, was an important crop in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica in conjunction with corn, beans and amaranth. Chia seeds were valuated not only for food, but also for medicines and paints [2]. Its cultivation was banned by Spanish conquerors and replaced by exotic crops (Wheat and Barley) [8]. Nowadays, chia seeds are being re-introduced to Western diets to improve human health.

Chia seed is traditionally consumed in Mexico to South Western U.S. and South America, but it is not widely known in Europe. However, in 2009, the European Union approved chia seeds as a not widely food, allowing them to comprise up to 5% of a bread product’s total matter [3]. Today, chia is mostly grown in Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Australia and Guatemala and it has been demonstrated that the species has great potential as a future crop plant [13].

The value of chia arises from its nutritional properties and medicinal use. The contents of chia seeds include polyunsaturated fatty acids, dietary fibre, vitamins, calcium, protein including all essential amino acids and other vital minerals [35-45]. After a long oblivion in recent years this crop has been rediscovered, nowadays it is cultivated as a seed crop and commercialized as a functional food and feed. Chia seeds are perhaps one of the most advantageous nourishment on earth, stuffed with supplements and medical advantages for the human body and mind. Health benefits include nourishing the digestive system, promoting healthier skin, strong muscles and bones, lower the risks of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and ageing signs [1-45]. Mature chia seeds contain mucilage in their epidermal cells thus, when the seed is placed in water, the primary cell layer obtrudes from the epidermal cells developing a coating around the seed which surges in size and forms a gel-like appearance on chia [36]. This gel characteristic being a natural phenomenon of chia seed has great potential in the development of functional food products such as stabilizers, emulsifiers and thickeners [15]. Moreover, over the years special attention has been drawn to the use of chia as feed, for instance dairy industries have explored improving the nutraceutical profile of milk by increasing the content of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) omega-3 fatty acid [18]. The lipid profile in milk can be sharply modified by feeding animals with forages rich in omega-3 [18] as well as by supplementing oils seeds or fish oils [12]. Chia, therefore offers massive nutritional and therapeutic potential with a diverses futures perspectives for food, feed, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sectors. Owing to its Superior nutritional, functional and health benefits.

Botanical Description of The Plant

Salvia hispanica L. is an annual herbaceous plant. Its height can reach from 1 to 1.5 meters, with branched stems of quadrangular and hollow section, with opposite leaves with sawn edges 80 to 100 mm in length and 40 to 60 mm in width. The flowers are hermaphroditic, purple, blue or white, usually with indehiscent fruits in groups of four oval single-seeded nails 1.5-2 mm length and 1-1.2 mm in diameter [25-35].

The seeds are soft and shiny, graybrown with dark brown spots, which can sometimes be white, they are small and light so the weight of the 1000 seeds can vary from 0.94 to 1.29g. It is a self-pollinating plant and insect are responsible for cross-pollination, but reproduction is most commonly encountered and accomplished through seed [36]. It is a photoperiod-sensitive shir-day plant, exhibiting a fovorable short-day flowering response [9-42]. Chia requires favorable conditions to grow optimally, it requires a hot climate and heavy rainfall with a temperature that must be 15 to 30°C [31].

Mexico is known to be the source and major producer of chia, but it has also recently grown in Australia, Bolivia Colombia, Peru and Argentina [25-31]. Most plantin operations of chia seeds are carried out in mountainous regions from temperate to subtropical [25].

Chemical Composition

The nutrional properties of Silvia hispanica are high, specifically from its seeds which contain fats, carbohydrates, fibers and proteins, in addition to various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They can provide an energy value of 459 to 495 kcal/100g of seeds [29-31]. These values may be influenced by the ecosystems of the culture medium of Salvia hispanica, due to genetic factors [31], the extraction method [29], the effect of climatic conditions, the nutrients in the soil [25].


The seeds are rich in fatty acids of polyunsaturated form such as omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (19.5%) and omega-6 alpha-linolenic acid (5.2%), which the human body cannot synthesize due to the absence of specific [25-31].


Content in chia seed is about 16-26%, in which most of them being prolamins about 538g/kg of crude protein, followed by glutelin about 230g/kg of crude protein, globulins about 70g/kg of crude protein and albumins about 39g/kg of crude protein. In addition to 18 amino acids, among them, the 7 exogenous amino acids and some endogenous amino acids (glutamic with the greatest concentration). The can provide mor protein than other grains such as rice, corn of barley [29-31].

Citation: Rahal EK, Meryama M, Rachid EZ. Chia (Salvia Hispanica): An Overview of Its Botany, Uses, Reproductive, Biology, Pharmacological Properties and Industrial Potentials. Austin J Pharmacol Ther. 2023; 11(2): 1172.