The South American grain salba, also known as chia, is the "new ancient supergrain," according to Oriental Solutions Ltd., a Thailand-based company that is marketing this grain. Salba is a variety of ancient plant species belonging to the mint family called Chia. Its botanical name is Salvia hispanica L.
Nutrition, Functionality, Applications
Salba is rich in many key nutrients, including calcium, iron, Omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber. Salba improves a products nutritional profile by providing high-quality protein and extraordinarily rich Omega-3 fatty acids without the characteristic off-flavor of many soy and flax ingredients. It is gluten-free; thus, it can be consumed by people with celiac disease.
When mixed with water, Salba exhibits significant water binding and/or gelling properties:
- Exudes a mucilaginous material when suspended in water;
- Forms a thick gel when suspended in water 8 times its weight;
- Forms a soft gel when suspended in water 12 times its weight.
Salba works well in applications that also take advantage of its crunchy texture, easy digestibility and appealing appearance of the seeds. It is functionally compatible with and may be incorporated into a wide range of foods such as:
- Bakery products (breads, muffins, cakes, cookies, etc.);
- Dry breakfast foods (RTE cereal and hot cereal)
- Snack foods (tortilla chips, rice cakes, pretzels, etc.);
- Bars (meal replacement, nutritional, weight loss, sport, etc.);
- Packaged/Prepared foods (canned and dry soups, mayonnaise, jam);
- Pasta (fresh and dry);
- Beverages and powdered drink mixes.
Nutrient Composition Suggests Market Niches
Based on salba's impressive nutrient composition, using data from major observational, animal and clinical studies, Salba can be recommended for the following various applications of consumer interest:
- Sport/exercise/physical activity;
- Elderly and aging population;
- Children & adolescents;
- On-the-go meals;
- Womens health;
- Weight loss/wellness;
- Bowel movement & colonic health;
- Vegetarian/deficiency diets/famine;
- Specialty diets.