Black versus White Chia Seeds

With the chia seed revolution that seems to be emerging in the whole foods movement, the seed that is predominantly most well-known in consumer circles are black chia seeds and many people, even those who are firm advocates of the chia health benefits, are not aware that the white seeds exist but this is set to change on a commercial level.  Mixed messages are being cast out as to which is the best of the chia seeds in terms of nutrients but it would seem that the nutritional compositions are fairly similar which is good news if you are a chia seed fan.


Soil composition of course can make a little difference in respect of nutrients found within the seeds, and the difference can be that there may be some difference as to there being higher protein levels in the white in comparison to the black seeds.  Temperature can make a difference too and affect the growth of the plant but if both these factors are fairly equal then there should be no real difference between the two. People often prefer the white seeds if they are using within their drinks and some find the thought of floating black seeds a little off-putting but really it’s all to do with personal taste.


It may help to understand the origins of the chia seeds as you can then see why the white and black seeds are classed differently. The botanical name salvia Hispanic was given to the plant bearing chia seeds way back in the 1700’s. It was thought to be completely native to Spain at this time but this was not true as the Aztecs and the Mayans were using chia seeds centuries before.


You will hear the botanical name of Salba also in connection with chia seeds and this really is the culmination of the careful plant breeding of the whiter coloured chias from the Salvia Hispanic plant and over the years, this breeding plan has produced mainly white grains as a result. The name salba was then given as a combination of the salvia hispanica botanical name along with the Latin word for white – alba. So Salba then became a separate crop. Salba tends to be grown under much more controlled conditions mainly in Peru as Peru has the ideal climate for these plants.


There are some who would say that there are remarkable differences between salba and salvia, for example, salba is reported to contain higher quantities of omega 3 fatty acids than the Mexican chia salvia. Salba has the potential to be higher in protein levels than salvia and is much more aesthetically pleasing for adding to foods.  Salba, because it is grown under more controlled conditions has the potential certainly to be more nutritionally consistent and it has become a registered variety, with the plant sporting white flowers as opposed to the Mexican salvia with purple flowers.


That there are distinct differences between the plants is obvious but both are highly beneficial to all who wish to supplement their diet and to increase their energy levels. Importantly, they both provide you with the chance to keep your body hydrated for longer periods, to improve digestion and to balance your blood sugar levels. They may be different colours, grown in different parts of the world and under different environments but both are crammed full of nutritional goodness that would be foolish to over-look if you are concerned about your health.  It is important to remember that salba – the plant that produces the white chia seeds started off as salvia hispanica and it was only through the careful selection of the lighter coloured seeds that were then grown carefully over a long period of time, that has now produced an alternative species of plant.


Whilst there is no doubt that there are differences, both the white and the black chia seeds offer everyone the chance to improve their health.



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