Salvia hispanica is more commonly known as chia. This flowering plant is native to Mexico and is a member of the mint family. Its tiny seeds were ground into flour by the Aztec civilisation, and also used medicinally by local peoples for centuries.
Chia seeds are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and they are also an excellent source of B vitamins, calcium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. Chia seeds are commonly added to bread, health bars or cereal, and can also be added to smoothies or yoghurts, or simply consumed raw.
Chia seeds also contain many antioxidants, which are known to play an important role in fighting off cell damage and keeping the body healthy. High in fibre and low in calories, the seeds pack an all round nutritional punch.
Although not as good a source of omega-3 oils as oily fish, it is thought that the oils in chia seeds have an anti-inflammatory effect and can help to raise good cholesterol in the body, and to improve insulin resistance.
You can buy chia seeds in their raw state to add to your diet, but you can also buy chia seed extract in tablet or capsule form if you prefer.