Salba & White Chia Seeds
May 09, 2008
On the list of powerful super-foods, Salba or Chia is an old timer that has only recently begun to make a name for itself. For those who are unaware, Salba is a refined version of the Chia seed—an age old seed prized for its rich antioxidants and Omega-3 properties. The Chia seed has a rich history, especially in past Aztec cultures.
Here are some interesting points:
- The chia plant (Salvia Hispanica) originated in the central valley of Mexico and is a member of the mint family.
- Records indicate chia seeds were used as a food source as far back as 3500 B.C.
- Chia seeds played an important role in Aztec society. It was the third most important crop and was often used as a form of currency.
- A common story that varies depending on where you read it reports that Aztecs regarded Chia seeds as a “superfood” and as the “running food.” Aztec Warriors subsisted on Chia during their conquests and runners are believed to have sustained themselves for an entire day on just a teaspoon of chia.
- After the Spanish Conquest, chia seed nearly disappeared as the Spaniards banned foods that were linked in any way to Aztec religion or tradition.
- The Spanish explorer and conqueror Hernado Cortez noted the Aztec dependence on the grain and, in an attempt to deprive the Aztecs of their source of nutrition and power, he ordered all the chia grain field set on fire.
The above points begin to make more sense when you look at the incredible health benefits of the grain:
- Chia seeds are the highest whole food source of dietary fiber and Omega-3 Fatty acids in nature.
- A serving of this nutrient dense seed has eight times more Omega-3s than salmon, six times more calcium than whole milk, and three times more antioxidants than blueberries.
- Chia seeds are about 20% protein
- Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds are so rich in antioxidants that they do not deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid.
- Chia is a hydrophilic and can absorb more than 12 times its weight in water. This makes it especially helpful in maintaining body hydration
Chia seeds would be a healthy addition to any diet, but they have received particular attention as a dietary supplement for people with diabetes. Because of the unique way they break down in the digestion system, chia seeds may help slow the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar in the stomach.
To get an idea of how chia seeds are broken down, simply place a spoonful of them into a glass of water. After about a half an hour, you will notice the seeds have broken down and bonded with the water to form a thick gel. In the stomach, this gel creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down—effectively slowing down the conversion of carbohydrates into water.
This is one of the key properties of the grain that is drawing particular attention to the grain. Research into the whole grain Salba has shown that it is effective in lowering elevated blood pressure, low grade body inflammation, and blood clot formation in people with well-controlled Type 2 diabetes.
Now that you know what white chia seeds or Salba do, you should know what they are. They are not the same as the seeds you spread to grow your own sprouty pet…not exactly. White chia seeds are denser in nutrients than the mostly black seeds. To grow them abundantly, they must be sorted from the black seeds to produce a consistently refined harvest. The white chia seeds that you would buy in a store or online are the result of constant sorting and replanting of individual seeds. The word “Salba” is a trademark name of a manufacturer that grows white chia seeds. The name is a conglomeration of the Latin name for the chia plant: Salvia Hispanica, and the color Blanco or “white.” Literally, Salba means “white chia” and the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
White chia seeds are very small in size. They can be ground up or sprinkled on foods, in soups and sauces; they can also be eaten alone. They are tasteless and extremely easy to incorporate into a daily diet. With all of this in mind, white chia seeds may be most simple, versatile, and healthy whole food you could incorporate into your diet.