One of the newest foods that is gaining a lot of attention for its therapeutic and daily health benefits is “Salba.” Most people haven’t yet heard of it, but I imagine that this will change soon.
The History of Salba
1. Salba was first used as food as early as 3500 B.C., and served as a cash crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. According to Spanish manuscripts, the Aztecs ate the seeds of this semitropical plant, also known as “chia,” to improve their endurance. They believed it gave them mystical, almost supernatural energy and power.
2. In the 1500s during the Spanish conquest of America, leader Hernan Cortez was convinced that if he could destroy the crop, he would win the empire from the Aztecs. He set acre upon acre on fire to destroy the will of his enemy.
3. After the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the mysterious seeds were probably introduced to Spain around 1521. Famed botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) gave these seeds the botanical name Salvia hispanica L.
4. Knowledge of this plant was revived in 1991 when Adolfo and Alfredo Mealla began cultivating it in Argentina in 1991. The brothers painstakingly sorted out the few nutritionally consistent white grains from the black ones and replanted them to produce an all white harvest with higher nutritional density. In 1994 Alfredo gave this grain a new name, Salba, which is a combination of the botanical name “Salvia hispanica L.” and the Latin name for white, “Alba”.
5. Starting in 1994 the grain was extensively researched at the University of Toronto leading to the conclusion “could be considered the world’s most nutritious food crop and thus can be used as a global remedy for world hunger.”
6. In 2004 Salba was introduced to North America and to Canada where it is continues to receive acclaim.
Salba is the highest known whole food source of omega-3’s found in nature;(3 1⁄2 ounces of Salba® contain as much omega-3 as 28 ounces of Atlantic salmon)
- more calcium than 3 cups of whole milk
- higher, and more bioavailable protein content than soy, and more vegetable protein content than 1 1⁄2 cups of kidney beans
- the highest natural fiber content (43g per 100g) of any food -more fiber than 1 ¼ cups of All-Bran cereal
- the iron equivalent of 3 cups of raw spinach
- the Potassium content of 1 1/2 bananas
- as much Vitamin C as seven oranges
- antioxidant capacity three times the strength of blueberries with Myrecetin counts 270 times the strength of red wine
What are the benefits:
Dr. Vladimir Vuksan – one of the developers of the revolutionary gylcemic index – calls Salba “the perfect functional food.” Dr. Vuksan studied the grain intensively for 6 months and reports these findings in the article, “Seeds of Wellness: Return of a Supergrain” in The Saturday Evening Post (Nov/Dec 2005).
Here are some of the findings:
- Salba reduced after meal blood glucose and plasma insulin levels, compared to the control diet
- C-Reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, was significantly lower (40%) than control at the end of the study
- Salba significantly lowered the systolic and diastolic blood pressure (>10mm/5mmGH)
- Salba decreased coagulation (blood thinning) by 30%
- No adverse effect was noted on glycemic control or blood lipids as previously seen with high doses of omega-3 fatty acids
Salba also shows promise as a fiber supplement to keep the bowels moving well while at the same time providing Omega 3s, iron, magnesium and vitamin C.
How to use Salba:
Salba can be taken in its whole form or ground when used in cooking. Salba can be added to yogurt, cereal, salads, beverages, and used in baking. Refrigerate Salba after grinding.
Where to find Salba:
Salba is the only grain that holds a medical patent (60-274.256). It It is also non-GMO certified and currently maintains the Canadian Kosher Certification: COR 302.
It is sold in health foods stores and online. As it is so new, you may have to ask your health food store to order it.