The chia seed is grown in Mexico and parts of Central and South America. It is an edible seed of the salvia hispanica plant, a member of the mint family. Salba, also from the salvia hispanica plant, grown in the Amazon basin in Peru, is an heirloom form of the chia seed. One main defining differences between these two seeds are the color; the chia seed is black, whereas the salba is white. Besides their appearance is very similar in nutrients and uses, however salba is a more well regulated seed and is higher in nutritional value than chia.
Chia is high in omega-3 fatty acids and are a rich source of antioxidants. When eaten, they form a gel with stomach liquids that helps to slow down carbohydrate absorption and the conversions of carbohydrates into sugars. Additionally, it leaves you feeling fuller longer, and soothes heartburn and calm the stomach. Chia seeds are high in fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron and zinc. They are an easily digestible protein and the protein in chia helps build muscles and other tissues. They also provide a trace mineral, boron, which helps aid in absorption of calcium.
Salba, also rich in omega-3 fatty acids has more omega-3’s per milligram than chia and is a rich source of vegan EFAs. Additionally, salba contains more protein per milligram than chia seeds. Salba is rich in both solube and insolube fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, iron and folate. Salba is effective in replenishing minerals used in muscle contractions and lost through sweat.
The most notable differences between salba and chia is the growing and regulation practices around both. Salba is nutritionally consistent due to strictly controlled growing conditions in Peru whereas chia is grown wild throughout Mexico and Central and South America, resulting in inconsistent nutritional composition. Salba is also grown in smaller quantities to produce the most nutrient-dense seeds. Chia is grown in large volumes yielding a lower quality and less nutrient-dense product.
Chia seeds can be eaten raw or ground to make a flour substitute and added to baked goods. Chia seeds bring a nutty flavor to smoothies, granola and oatmeal. Similary to chia seeds, salba can be eaten raw in smoothies, oatmeal or sprinkled over yogurt. Salba can also be purchased as an oil that can be used in salads and sauces.