Quinoa is a whole grain that was first cultivated over 5000 years ago in the mountainous regions of the Andes.
This ‘mother grain’ also called ‘gold of the Incas’ was eaten by Inca warriors before setting off for battle for it was said to produce energy. It is considered a life sustaining grain for its high nutritive value.
There are several varieties of quinoa available in the market, although the most common are white, red and black quinoa. You also find quinoa flour and flakes in health food stores.
These variations of quinoa can be incorporated into a wide range of dishes like breakfast cereals, soups, salads, stir-fries, snacks, baked dishes and so on.
Quinoa is high in proteins and carbohydrates. It contains all the essential amino acids. It is gluten-free and ideal replacement for wheat for celiac patients.
It helps patients with diabetes and aids in weight loss since it is rich in dietary fiber. It has a high content of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, copper, manganese, zinc and complex carbohydrates and it is low sodium.
The chia plant has seeds whose brand name is salba. The scientific name for the chia plant is Salvia hispanica. Chia was originally cultivated by Aztec people and was discovered by Christopher Columbus when he reached the Americas during his 15th century explorations.
Chia seeds or salba grains make excellent gluten-free flour that can be used for baking and provides better nutrition than wheat. Salba can also be used in salads, stir-fry dishes, as a pizza topping, as a snack, it can be mixed with water and forms a gel which can be used as a replacement ingredient for cooking oil and eggs.
Salba is considered one of the most nutritious food grains available. It is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and a natural source of EFAs for vegans.
It is rich in dietary fiber and can soak up at least 10-12 times its own weight in water. This makes it an excellent food grain for weight-loss for people feel fuller when they eat grains rich in dietary fibers.
It is rich in antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals which damage tissues and organs. Salba contains magnesium that helps protect muscles and aids in better absorption of potassium and calcium.
It is an excellent source of calcium for those who suffer from milk allergies or avoid dairy products like vegans. Salba contains more folate than asparagus and more iron than spinach.
Nutritional Comparison of Salba and Quinoa
The following is the nutritional profile of natural whole salba:
For a single serving of 2 tablespoons:
- Calories – 46
- Total fat – 4g
- Saturated fat – 0g
- Polyunsaturated – 0g
- Monounsaturated – 0g
- Trans fat – 0g
- Cholesterol – 0mg
- Sodium – 0mg
- Potassium – 80mg
- Total carbohydrates – 4g
- Dietary fiber – 4g
- Sugars – 0g
- Protein – 3g
- Vitamin A – 0%
- Vitamin C – 0%
- Calcium – 0%
- Iron – 6%
The following is the nutritional profile of a single serving of chia seeds.
For a serving of 1 ounce – 28g
- Calories - 137
- Calories from fat - 72
- Total fat - 9g (13% DV)
- Saturated fat – 1g (4% DV)
- Cholesterol 0mg - (0% DV)
- Sodium 5mg - (0% DV)
- Total carbohydrates - 12g (4% DV)
- Dietary fiber - 11g (42% DV)
- Protein - 4g
- Vitamin A - 0%
- Vitamin C - 0%
- Calcium - 18%
- Iron - 0%
It is an excellent source of dietary fiber, manganese, phosphorous and calcium and low in cholesterol and sodium.
The following is a nutritional profile of cooked quinoa.
For a serving size of 185g (1 cup)
- Calories 222
- Calories from fat 32
- Total fat 4g (16% DV)
- Saturated fat (0% DV)
- Cholesterol 0mg (0% DV)
- Sodium 13mg (1% DV)
- Total carbohydrates 39g (13% DV)
- Dietary fiber 5g (21% DV)
- Protein 8g (48% DV)
- Vitamin A 0%
- Vitamin C 0%
- Calcium 3%
- Iron 15%
DV refers to percent daily value that is based on 2000 calorie diet. Each person’s DV will vary depending on daily needs. Quinoa is very low in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fats. It is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorous, folate and manganese.
Salba grains and chia flour make healthy baked foods and other items similar to quinoa. Chia seeds or salba contain good sources of ALA whereas quinoa has only negligible quantities of omega-3. Both are cholesterol free, high in dietary fiber, and contain good sources of potassium, phosphorous and small quantities of sodium.
Both salba and quinoa are nutrient dense and can be great additions to our diet.