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Easy Eats Blog: An Interview with CEO John Roulac on Chia

Nutiva CEO John W. Roulac recently sat down with the folks at the Easy Eats Blog to discuss some of the many health benefits of Chia Seeds, the powerful superfood from the South.

Chia: John Roulac and the Super Seed

The benefits of chia go beyond the 90′s fascination with the seed-sprouting clay heads. Chia contains the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids in any plant source known to man. The edible version can be used whole in its raw seed form, ground into powder or pressed into oil. However you choose to consume it, the high levels of nutrients (including antioxidants, fiber, calcium and protein) help lower high blood pressure in diabetics and reduce risk factors for heart disease.

Derived from the word chian (which translates to oily), this plant originates from Mexico and Guatemala. A once highly accessible seed whose benefits were not well known, it has recently seen a surge in popularity. To get the inside scoop on what to expect from this gluten-free super seed in the coming years, we asked John Roulac, CEO of Nutiva.

Nutiva is a health food company that focuses on certified-organic superfoods (such as hemp, coconut and chia). Like Patagonia, they donate a portion of their sales back into sustainability projects. Here is part of our fascinating conversation…

Question & Answer with John Roulac, CEO of Nutiva

Q: Much like quinoa, millet and other ancient grains, chia has been a dietary staple for centuries in some cultures but is comparatively unknown in modern diets. Why do you think it is now a hot new superfood? What has caused the recent surge in demand?

People are looking for nutrient-dense, organic foods that they add easily add to their diet. Chia is so easy to use because it can simply be added to yogurt, oatmeal or juice. Dr Oz’s TV show and its promotion of chia has been a huge boost as well.

Q: What are the health benefits of chia? It’s been lauded as great diet food in some circles (since it absorbs water and contributes to a feeling of fullness) and has high levels of many sought-after nutrients. 

Seeds are a store house of energy and packed with protein, fiber, minerals, antioxidants and good fats. Call them what you want – they are just simple organic seeds used for thousands of years.

Q: Along with offering customers a high-quality, organic product, part of your company mission is to contribute to charitable organizations. How did this begin?

Nutiva from day one donated 1% of it’s sales to groups promoting sustainable ag. I was in part inspired by Patagonia which gives well over $3M a year now. Nutiva will donate  $400K in 2012, and we hope to do $1M by 2015. I believe in giving back to those who make it all happen – organic farmers and groups that promote organic farming. We also choose to give the funds to groups doing important work… like Bioneers with their great conferences, Common Vision whose mission involves planting trees at schools across California and VoteHemp with their work to allow hemp farming once again in America.

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