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Have You Heard About the Latest Super Food?

By April 4, 2009 - 10:25pm
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I am always looking for new sources of healthy nutrition. As I was walking up and down the aisles of my favorite health food store this afternoon I noticed a new natural product (at least new to me). Of course I bought it and want to try it. I did some research on this tiny little grain from South America's Amazon and was impressed with my finding. The name is SALBA and you can buy it whole or grounded. I got the whole seeds and got my first table spoon mixed with my yogurt for dinner. It is tasteless and easy to swallow whole. The nutrition claims are impressive! You can find out more about this grain at this site: www.salba.com

If you know about it and have been using it, tell us more!

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Recent clinical research at the Risk Factor Modification Center, St. Michaelʹs Hospital, University of Toronto, Canada, has produced results indicating that Salba grain can assist in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in Type 2 diabetes. Dr. Vladimir Vuksan, Professor of Endocrinology and Nutritional Sciences in the Faculty ofMedicine at St. Michael’s Hospital was part the chief investigator of clinical studies on Salba.

Dr. Vuksan investigated Salba in randomized, acute and long‐term studies. In the studies, Salba reduced after‐meal blood glucose and plasma insulin levels, compared to controls. In a long term trial (12 weeks), supplementation of Conventional Therapy With the Novel Grain Salba (Salvia hispanica L.) ot also improved major and emerging Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes2. Salba also reduced blood pressure, the major cardiovascular risk factor in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes and proved to be effective with respect to
reduction in inflammation and coagulation factors.

Press Release, June 24th, 2008: http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2008/r080624.htm

April 5, 2009 - 10:56pm

Actually, you probably HAVE heard of this product (it is being heavily marketed and heavily over-priced under the name Salba). Ever heard of chia seeds? If not...heard of Chia Pets?! :-)

The chia seeds were slathered on the terra cotta Chia Pet figurines, and the sprouts grow "hair". The product Salba is a bottle full of chia seeds (their tagline is funny--and ingenious--after knowing the real information, "Nature's Perfect Whole Food"!!)

It's interesting that on the entire Salba website, there is no mention of the ingredients (nutrition facts are present, but they only tout that it is a "whole grain"), probably because no one would pay $30/month for a bottle of seeds...doesn't sell as well!

How Chia seeds have been used for hundreds of years (to take the exotic and new factor out of this product):
- Chia seed may be eaten raw as a dietary fiber and omega-3 supplement. - Grinding chia seeds produces a meal called pinole, which can be made into porridge or cakes.
- Chia seeds soaked in water or fruit juice is also often consumed and is known in Mexico as chia fresca.
- The soaked seeds are gelatinous in texture and are used in gruels, porridges and puddings.
- Ground chia seed is used in baked goods including breads, cakes and biscuits.
- Chia sprouts are used in a similar manner as alfalfa sprouts in salads, sandwiches and other dishes.

So...what's the Real Deal on Salvia hispanica (marketed as Salba)?
- Salvia hispanica is a plant from Mexico (ooh! It has the exotic factor to it!), from which the Chia seed comes from.
- Chia seeds typically contain 20% protein, 34% oil, 25% dietary fiber, and significant levels of antioxidants. The oil from chia seeds contains a very high concentration of omega-3 fatty acid (64%), contains no gluten and very little sodium.
- So, yes, Chia seed is indeed richer in Omega-3's compared to flaxseed. Sounds healthy to me, I'm in agreement, but should companies be bottling up this seed from Mexico, heavily marketing it as the "perfect whole food" (I would hardly call a seed a "whole food"), and selling it for $30 a pop?! Definitely not.

OK...and onto my soap box regarding "superfoods"

I am more skeptical, I guess, so let me offer a different viewpoint on "superfoods".

1. I believe a true "superfood" will be more beneficial to the consumer than to the seller. What do I mean? Click on the Salba link above, and you'll see that it is difficult to find the ingredients list for this substance (they repeatedly say "whole seed", and that's it). I dislike the lack of information they provide on what they are selling...red flag alert!! In reality, they are selling an inexpensive seed for a very expensive price, from a plant in mexico called, "Salvia hispanica". (more information below).

2. This product is HEAVILY marketed to consumers, which should make us very skeptical, and is red flag alert #2.

3. How much does this product cost the consumer? A whopping $30.00 per bottle, for a month's supply! They want me to pay $360 every year (and, this assumes this is not the only "nutrition is a bottle" that I am purchasing). So, what exactly is in this bottle again, and why aren't they upfront with the ingredients?

4. Real superfoods are real foods. Fruits and vegetables and fish for starters. If it seems too good to be true, than it is. We still can not meet our nutrition needs from a bottle, no matter how good it sounds.

5. Dietitians do not use the term superfood", and there is no legal definition; it is not overseen by any food or supplement authority, and instead this term is used as an over-used marketing tool. For Salba, take away the pretty packaging and the suggestion of it being a "superfood" and the tagline, "Nature's Perfect Whole Food", and then look at the ingredients list and nutrition facts. What do they tell you? Again, no ingredient list is provided, but they want you to pay for their expensive product. It really makes me sad that companies are doing this, but "at least" it is a healthy whole seed/grain, I guess.

What are your thoughts?

April 5, 2009 - 7:23am
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