Sustainable Nutrition and Health Solutions

Hope In Action provides Chaya plants as an important part of poverty and hunger aid. The high nutritional content of Chaya leaves is ideal for the increased nutritional needs of infants and pregnant or nursing mothers.

Chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa)

  • grows as a bush
  • supplies essential vitamins and minerals
  • adapts to warm, humid climates or drought-prone areas

Benefits of Chaya

Chaya contains carotenoids that are converted to vitamin A when eaten. Vitamin A is essential to children's growth, cognitive development and immunity to disease. Vitamin A deficiency is common in developing countries and causes blindness to 250,000-500,000 children each year. Seventy percent of these children die within one year after losing their sight.

Chaya contains over twice the average nutritional value of spinach, and 6 times the amount of vitamin A-producing caretenoids found in spinach. Based on the NIH-recommended daily amount of Vitamin A and the vitamin A content in boiled spinach, the daily amount of vitamin A needed by a nursing mother can be provided by one-fourth cup of boiled Chaya.

A child under one year old requires one-fifth the daily amount of vitamin A required by a nursing mother, but there is no health risk from consuming excess Vitamin A that comes from eating green leafy vegetables such as Chaya.

How to Use

Before eating Chaya, it must be boiled 10 to 15 minutes to destroy the natural toxicity. Chaya, like lima beans and many leafy vegetables, contains hydrocyanic glycosides. This is destroyed by boiling. The water that Chaya is cooked in should also be discarded.

Chaya tastes like a mild spinach and can be used, after cooking and draining, just as spinach would be used.