Home Feature Chaya: the superfood of the Yucatan!

Chaya: the superfood of the Yucatan!

by Yucatan Times
1 comment

Mesoamerica is one of the most important world centers for the origin and domestication of plants, and has contributed with several transcendental crops to modern agriculture, including corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, cocoa, avocado and agave.

However, the Mesoamerican populations also cultivated and domesticated many other useful plants, which today are still not well known outside of this region or elsewhere in the world. One of these plants is the Chaya leaf.

Traditionally in Yucatán, the Chaya known as Mayan Spinach. And for people in rural communities across the Yucatan Peninsula it is quite common to consume this plant everyday.

The elderly used to say that we must ask the Chaya plant for permission to collect its leaves, something like: – Good morning, Mrs. Chayita, I am going to take some leaves for us to eat, thank you… This means that the plant is asked for permission so that the collector’s hands do not get stung. It is also well known that, for the plant to remain healthy and always have a lot of foliage, you must talk to her and that will keep her productive.

Chaya provides enormous benefits for humans such as regulating blood pressure, improves blood circulation, helps reduce body weight, increases calcium in the bones, and helps the digestive system.

Nutritionists say that Chaya helps vision, deflates veins and hemorrhoids, fights constipation, helps to expel urine and breast milk, lowers cholesterol and uric acid levels, prevents cough, decongests and disinfects the lungs, prevents anemia, improves memory and brain functions, and fights arthritis and diabetes.

Chaya cures infections of the throat, diseases of the skin, teeth, gums and tongue. It helps boys in the growth and development of bones and muscles, and it gives women strength in the critical period of menstruation.

The plant is also great for kidney stone problem, and acts favorably on the ailments of the human organism, without producing negative effects.

The Yucatan Times

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1 comment

Sophie February 20, 2023 - 10:34 pm

I’m a Nutritionist, and I would never make such bold, generalistic medicinal claims about the chaya plant – especially without knowing anything about a person’s diet, health status, background and drugs prescription(s). There’s different varieties of the chaya plant and its nutritional value will vary from a specimen to another, but just like the cassava, the raw leaves contain a toxic hydrocyanic glycoside which must be cooked to avoid cyanide poisoning – and it’s very important to mention that point when writing such articles! The locals feel that having 4-5 leaves juiced with an acidic base is okay to drink once a day or so (agua de piña con chaya, limón con chaya, etc) but it might upset the stomach of children, sensitive individuals and people taking certain medications.

It IS a very nutritious plant, but it’s important to tell people to rinse the leaves carefully, wear gloves to harvest the leaves as certain varieties can sting like nettles, cook them well at least 10 to 20 methods depending on the recipe and NEVER use aluminum containers, tools or cookware as it can release a toxic compound!


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