When I was growing up the Chia Pet was a big deal and almost everyone was familiar with the catchy cha-cha-cha chia jingle that was part of the ad on TV. Well, chia has grown up (me too! :-)) and is now recognized as the superfood it truly is and not just something for creating a kitschy plant for the windowsill….
Salba or White Chia Seeds
A new type of superfood receiving a lot of attention these days is salba—also known as white chia seeds. It contains 6 times more calcium than whole milk, 15 times more magnesium than broccoli, 3 times more anti-oxidant power than fresh blueberries, more fiber than flaxseed, and more protein than soy. Wow! So why are we just now hearing about this grain that was once prized more highly than gold by the ancient Aztecs? They fed it to their athletes, used it as medicine, and even offered it to their gods. But then the Spanish conquistadores arrived on the scene, and for the next five centuries salba somehow became just a colorful legend.
But now that modern researchers have rediscovered the remarkable properties of this nutritional powerhouse, it’s beginning to show up again everywhere. They’ve found that, gram for gram, salba has 8 times more Omega-3 fatty acids than fresh Atlantic salmon, so it’s a real winner for promoting a healthy cardiovascular system and heart function. And it helps maintain good cholesterol and keep your blood pressure where it should be. Salba energizes you honestly, too, unlike many energy drinks that are just “caffeine in a costume” that can cause a blood sugar crash later. Plus, it’s high in fiber—you’d need to eat 1 ¾ cups of bran to get the fiber that’s in just a few ounces of salba.
But salba isn’t just one of the richest whole-food sources of fiber on the planet. Each tiny granule is packed with two types of fiber, in ideal balance. Salba’s insoluble fiber gently “scrubs” debris and toxins from your colon walls, alleviating problems with constipation, build-up and blockage. And its soluble fiber soaks up water, so that loose stools and diarrhea are avoided. When you’ve got both kinds of fiber working in perfect balance, food moves through your digestive tract and bowel calmly and cleanly. Hallelujah! The fiber also slows down your digestion, so your body has a chance to absorb more nutrients, and you feel full longer, which helps with weight. Salba’s fiber also works to even out your absorption of carbohydrates, so your cells get a slow, steady supply of fuel and no blood sugar spikes.
And salba’s flavor is neutral, so it “disappears” when you stir it into your favorite breakfast food or smoothie. You can also mix it into baked goods, casseroles, and more. It has a shelf life of 5 years, and even if you grind it, it stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. But it’s only the white strain of the grain, and not the black, that happens to possess all of these health-giving properties, so be sure that’s the type you buy.
FYI, I actually wrote the above information about 5 years ago when I was putting together a health book and salba/white chia was just starting to gain a reputation as a superfood. A few years later I started noticing that I heard and saw less of the salba and more of the black chia. Since initially there was only one brand/company that offered salba, I started to wonder if maybe I’d been overly influenced as to salba/white chia’s superiority to the black by their marketing campaign rather than hard facts. So I recently did some research and here’s what I found….it’s an excerpt from an article on the very topic by Paul E that I found on http://www.naturalremi-teas.com….
I had a chance to talk with Marion Gray at natural Remi-Teas that has been retailing chia for several years, and ask her opinion. She shares the same feeling – that white and black seed are very close in nutrition, as the black has a tad more antioxidants than white, but white has a bit more protein and milder flavor.
“There have been a lot of discussions regarding the various seeds being sold (black, the all-white, and the variegated mixed variety). However, they are all Salvia Hispanica L. varieties and, depending on the area grown, there is very little difference. They are all the same botanical variety. There is another botanical variety, the Salvia Columbariae, which has different characteristics. Nutritionally, they are very similar, used by the North American aboriginal tribes. Both varieties are from the mint family. However, the Salvia Hispanica L. variety is a tall mint-like plant with long extended purple flowers (black variety) and white flowers (white seed variety) and they have been domesticated for variety) and white flowers (white seed variety) and they have been domesticated for farming. The Columbariae variety is a small, three-tiered thistle which has purple-colored flowers, predominantly in the Southwestern regions of North America, and it was strictly a wild crafted seed.
“There are a variety of brand names as well; however, a rose by any other name…! These are all Salvia Hispanica L. varieties and, no matter the brand name, they all produce the same beneficial results. As a matter of choice, it rests on the quality and purity of the seeds and, of course, the price. Check with your supplier and ask for documents regarding purity and other quality control protocols to ensure you are getting the food grade seeds and not the live-stock feed product.”
In conclusion, in my view, black and white seed are very close in nutrition and as William Anderson states, climate and conditions of crops vary. Without some extensive long-term studies, it is not easy to favor one over the other. The good news is that chia seed is a very nutritious food, black or white.
For more on the black/white issue and a free recipe book for chia seeds, go to:
More on the benefits of chia, how to soak and use the seeds, recipes, etc.:
So, black, white, variegated,… they are all super good for you. And now that we have that settled, let’s get more of them into your diet. Here are some good ideas as to how to do that from Hungry For Change…
10 FUN WAYS TO USE CHIA
by Sarah Wilson
Chia seeds are the new quinoa. The new ingredient to wriggle its way into the mainstream after a few decades as the fibrous, whole-mealy staple of the granola belt. I know many of you out there are still trying to work out what to do with them once you’ve bought a packet. And since I hate the idea of anyone buying a packet of anything and having it sit there going to waste, henceforth a wee list of clever applications.
I’ve written on why chia seeds are so healthy before. Amongst many things. they’re godsends when you’re quitting sugar. They help to control your appetite because they fill you up (with the addition of liquid they swell to 17 times their original size) and they’re a fabulous source of protein. They’re also full of nutrients – vitamins A, B, D, E, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium – which help with the detox hell that some can suffer.
Here are 10 ideas on how you can use chia in your diet:
1. Use In Place Of an Egg In Recipes
Substitute 1 tablespoon of chia seeds (preferably finely ground) + 3 tablespoons of water per egg.
2. Thicken Up Soups Or Gravies
If you don’t want to use cornstarch or other thickening agents, add a teaspoon of chia seeds or chia bran at a time until you reach your desired thickness. Bear in mind it takes a minute or two for the seeds to swell and work their magic. Be patient!
3. Sprout Chia Seeds To Use In Salads
These things are quite zesty…a bit like broccoli sprouts. Chia seeds are mucilaginous so you can’t use the usual tray or jar sprouters. Instead…
- Sprinkle a thin layer of seeds on the bottom of an unlaquered terra cotta dish or plate.
- Put the terra cotta dish in a larger plate of water.
- Cover with another plate.
- Small amounts of water permeate the terra cotta plate upon which the chia seeds sit, and provide exactly the right amount of water to sprout them.
- Day 2, lightly mist the seeds (or sprinkle) with water.
- Day 3, they should be right to eat.
4. Add To a Chocolate Brownie or Truffle Recipe To Turn Them Into Protein Bars
Throw in a few tablespoons of protein powder while you’re at.
5. Try a Chia-coconut Goob, Especially if You’re An Athlete
Just mix coconut water and some seeds to form an electrolyte-laden “goo”. I got my Dad onto this. He runs marathons and does 24-hour mountain bike races and swears by the idea (and he’s a hard guy to get on board!). It’s infinitely better than the commercial goobs and energy drinks.
6. Use as a Slow Cooker Aid
Cooking with a slow cooker can often leave you with a lot of excess liquid. I do two things.
The first: I thicken the sauce by adding some seeds or chia seed bran.
The second, I remove any excess liquid (a very brothy, nutritious mixture) and put in a jar with some chia seeds and then eat with toast, over rice, pasta or vegetables.
7. An Easy Thick Omelette
Add chia seeds to beaten eggs, soak for 10 minutes and turn into an omelette or frittata.
8. Make Crackers
Make a thin batter of ground chia seeds and milk and cook in a slow oven to make crackers.
9. Make a Cinnamon Chia Butter
Add ground seeds to nut butter and amp the nutrition. Or add to butter with some cinnamon and spread on hot toast.
10. Make a Healthy Pudding
Add 1/2 cup of chia seeds to 1 1/2 cups of almond or cashew milk. I make mine in a jar and carry it to the office, or on planes when I’m travelling. It’s filling, can be made the night before and is spill-proof!
PERSONAL NOTE: Here’s a tip that could be # 11 that I just came across. It’s a way to add more chia to your diet, PLUS cut back on fats. 🙂
Bake with less fat
Do you enjoy making baked goods at home, but hate all the butter and oil that has to go into them? Chia gel can substitute for half the butter in most recipes! The food will bake the same and taste the same (or better) from the addition of the chia gel. All you need to do is divide the amount of butter or oil in half, and then use the same amount of chia gel to fill in. The anti-oxidants in chia can even help keep the food tasting fresh longer. Everything from cookies to cakes to muffins, pancakes and waffles can be made with chia gel as your butter replacement.
Do you have any chia wisdom to share? Feel free to add your comments below. And check out my post on the benefits of black cumin seeds; they’re super good for you, too!
(FYI, you can get chia on-line at discount prices at places like iHerb.com—use code CJG192 if you are a new customer and spend more than $40 and you will get $10 off and free shipping– or Vitacost.com. If you are new to Vitacost and shop using the link on my Evolution Made Easier Links page and spend a certain amount–I believe it’s $25–you will get a $10 coupon to use. And if you plan on shopping there again in the future, be sure to sign up for a free acct. at eBates.com, if you don’t already have one. That way you can use the eBates portal to shop at Vitacost and earn cash back on your purchases. Plus, eBates also offers some kind of prize–I got a $10 gift card–after you make your first purchase. How does it get any better than that?!)
p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and blog of the same name for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.
Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.