Chia seeds well-known as the seeds applied to Chia Pets that bloom into that distinct green foliage. But chia is actually a distant relative of mint that grows naturally in Mexico and surrounding areas that has grown in popularity as food because of its high concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids. Two varieties of chia -- black and white seeds -- are available. Know the differences to select the right type of chia for your dietary needs.
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Black & White Chia Seeds
Chia seeds come from the salvia hispanica plant ("chia plant," commonly). White chia seeds are harvested from chia plants that have white flowers, while black chia seeds come from those chia plants with purple flowers. Black chia seeds are never all black; they range in colour from brown to grey, while white chia seeds are never all white but range from grey to yellow.
Colour may be the only real, discernible and demonstrable difference between white and black chia seeds. Colloquially, some people believe that nutritional content differs slightly between the two varieties of seed -- and they do, albeit slightly, when compared side-by-side, but scholarly research by leading chia seed experts has demonstrated that slight differences in nutritional content probably have a lot more to do with the regions in which the seeds are grown rather than the colour of the seeds themselves.
Chia seeds have no real flavour on their own, so there is no difference in taste between the two varieties of chia seed. The size and texture of the seeds are also indistinguishable. Chia seeds, in addition to being eaten raw, are sometimes ground into flour for baking, used as a grain in breads and other baked goods, or soaked in liquid until they become gelatinous and drunk with liquids or added to porridges and puddings. Black and white chia seeds can be used interchangeably in any of these uses with little or no discernible difference except in colour.
As noted, there tends to be a slight difference in nutritional content between black and white chia seeds (though the colour is not the cause of this difference), so if you are concerned about getting all the best nutritional content out of chia seeds, fear not. Most commercial sellers of chia seeds offer mixes of black and white seeds that can cover all of your nutritional bases.
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