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Salba Seeds - An Ancient Nutritional Wonder!

Doug Cook, RD, MHSc, CDE

Chances are you’re not familiar with salba seed. It turns out that salba is back in fashion, granted it only took about 500 years, but as the saying goes ‘what’s old is new again’. Like all good things that are fashionable, salba is actually a new twist on an old food. Salba is a variety of ancient plant species belonging to the mint family called Chia, yes as in the Chia Pet. Chia was revered by the Aztecs who used it has a staple in their diets. Who knew that a novelty craft item would hold such a nutritional powerhouse as salba seeds?

The Chia plant produces two different coloured seeds: black and white. Salba is the result of selecting out and only using the white seeds, which turn out to be responsible for the nutritional profile of this newly discovered food. Move over flax, there’s a new player in town.

So what makes salba the next big thing? For starters salba is a great source of omega-3 fat (alpha-linolenic acid), protein, potassium, magnesium, calcium, folate, niacin, copper, fibre and antioxidants. A 2 tablespoon serving of salba has a whopping 127mg of magnesium, 256mg of calcium, 220 mg of potassium, and more omega-3 fat than an equal amount of ground flax seed. As well, unlike flax, salba has a better balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats making it a great source of essential fatty acids (those that the body can not make and therefore must be obtained from the diet). Salba is also a great example of a functional food which is a food that provides health benefits beyond their basic nutritional function (i.e. calories, protein etc).

What is also remarkable about this ancient seed; is that it can absorb much more water than flax. In this case, water retention is a good thing. By absorbing many times its weight in water, whole and ground salba seeds forms a thick gel or bulking agent making it a great additive to foods such as oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce, smoothies etc which results in a slower digestion of food. Slower digestion means a steadier rise in blood sugar and therefore insulin release. This helps to keep you feeling full longer, helps to prevent swings in hunger and may help to reduce your total food intake by moderating appetite – all this and a handful of vitamins and minerals. Why wouldn’t you eat it?

There’s a reason the Aztecs grew this stuff and relied on it heavily as a stable of their diet. Salba seed is truly a winner when it comes to providing a lot of nutritional bang for your buck which is something that make dietitians very happy – in a world where our nutritional requirements haven’t change but the nutritional landscape has, dietitians are always looking for ways to make ‘every bite count’ and adding salba makes that a whole lot easier.

Doug Cook, RD MHSc CDE is a clinical dietitian and certified diabetes educator working at St Michael’s Hospital. You can contact Doug at or visit his website



eating for energy, saba seed, yuri elkaim, raw food, living foods, raw recipesLearn the full story on salba seeds in the Eating for Energy "Best Life EVER!" package- click here to read Eating for Energy!

Nutrition Expert, Yuri Elkaim and his groundbreaking raw food book, Eating for Energy, have helped thousands of people in over 80 countries regain control of their health and weight. Watch his new You Tube Video and discover a delicious GREEN smoothie recipe that will alkalize your body while keeping you energized and nourished. For more on his revolutionary healthy eating book visit


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