Chia seeds are a tiny superfood that comes in black and white varieties. Both types are quite popular and highly nutritious, but there are some small differences between the two.
How different are black and white chia seeds? The main difference is of course the color, but black chia seeds also have a slightly higher protein content. However, since white chia seeds are much rarer, they cost slightly more than black chia seeds.
This post will explore how black and white chia seeds differ, and which option you should use for your next recipe.
What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are 1-millimeter-wide black or white seeds harvested from Salvia hispanica, a plant in the mint family. Native to Central America and Southern Mexico, this plant has been cultivated for centuries by the Aztecs and Mayans.
Today, chia seeds are grown commercially in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru.
When soaked in water, chia seeds form a gel that can be used as an egg replacer in vegan recipes.
Chia seeds are also gaining popularity as a health food due to their many health benefits. Research has suggested that chia seeds may help to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce inflammation.
The fatty acids in chia seeds include both omega-3 and omega-6, which are essential for maintaining a healthy balance in the body.
These essential fatty acids help to support the structure of cell membranes and play a role in regulating inflammation.
In addition, chia seeds are a good source of vitamins A, B, D, and E, which are essential for skin, eyes, and bone health.
They also contain minerals such as iron, sulfur, iodine, magnesium, niacin, and thiamine. These minerals play a variety of roles in the body, including helping to produce energy and supporting the immune system.
Finally, chia seeds are rich in antioxidants, which help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
For all these reasons, chia seeds have grown in popularity as a superfood in recent years!
Black Vs White Chia Seeds — Similarities And Differences
Today, the majority of chia seeds on the market are a mix of both white and black seeds!
When you investigate a bag of chia seeds, you will see a mix of both black and white seeds. The black seeds have a grainy, patterned swirl, while the white chia seeds are rarer.
Both types of chia seeds are good sources of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals such as iron and magnesium. However, there are some slight differences in terms of nutrition, use, and cost.
The most apparent difference between black and white chia seeds is, of course, the color.
Black and white chia seeds can be harvested from the same plant, so a bag of chia seeds that you buy from the supermarket usually contains both black and white chia seeds.
Black chia seeds have a slightly higher protein content compared to white chia seeds. This difference in protein content results in slightly higher crop yields for black chia seeds.
The higher protein content of black chia seeds is due to the fact that they contain more essential amino acids than white chia seeds. Essential amino acids are necessary for the body to create new proteins.
Therefore, black chia seeds are a better source of protein than white chia seeds!
Although both types of chia seeds contain high levels of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), white chia seeds contain slightly more. This is due to the fact that white chia seeds have a higher oil content than black chia seeds.
It’s worth noting that these differences are very marginal, which means the difference in benefits that you can enjoy are not noticeable if you opt for one type over the other.
Though there are some tiny differences in their nutrient levels, both types of chia seeds taste exactly the same.
This is because the taste of chia seeds is actually determined by their coating, not the color of the seed itself. The coating is made up of different oils, which give chia seeds their characteristic nutty flavor.
The color of the chia seeds may affect the aesthetic of the dish, which many believe can also complement the flavor, but that’s definitely the chef’s choice.
Farmers have experimented with separating and planting black and white chia seeds separately to yield bigger crops of black chia seeds and white chia seeds.
That’s why it’s now possible to buy white chia seeds on their own, while previously it was mainly a mixed bag of both black and white seeds that was available!
When planting black chia seeds, the plant can still yield 5–8 % of white chia seeds, but the majority of the crop will be black seeds. However, when planting white chia seeds, the majority of the yield will be white, beige, or tan chia seeds.
That’s why when you buy black chia seeds, you’ll see a majority of black chia seeds sprinkled with a few white chia seeds, but white chia seeds can be sold with just the white variety.
Since white chia seeds are rarer, they are generally more expensive than their black counterparts. White chia seeds are not as readily available to buy, and you’ll usually have to pay more for them.
This is why many people have black chia seeds in their pantries!
The color difference is the main reason for the different uses of chia seeds. Black chia seeds make a great garnish for light-colored dishes, like yogurt, while white chia seeds can add some contrast to dark-colored dishes.
In addition, black chia seeds are usually used to extract oil, while white chia seeds are better suited for ground into flour. When mixed with water, chia flour can form a gel that can be used as a vegan substitute for eggs.
This is because white chia seeds usually have a softer shell that can easily be broken down to form a gel-like substance. This makes it a great thickening agent for smoothies and puddings.
Other than these main differences, both black and white chia seeds can be enjoyed raw or sprinkled over your favorite smoothie, yogurt, or cereal. You can also incorporate them in making bread or tortillas.
When To Use Black Vs White Chia Seeds
Since there’s not a big difference between the taste and nutritional profile of black and white chia seeds, you don’t need to favor one over the other.
However, if you are making a dish and want a seed color that will complement the dish aesthetically, then you can opt for the color that you like.
You will be able to enjoy the quality and nutrition offered by the chia seeds no matter what!
Things To Avoid When Buying Chia Seeds
While most chia seeds are black or white, you may occasionally come across brown seeds. These brown seeds are actually immature and have not yet developed the full nutrient profile of black or white seeds.
This is because brown chia seeds either lack sufficient sunlight and water to mature properly or they’ve been hit by frost and harsh weather.
As a result, brown chia seeds may not offer the same nutritional benefits as other varieties. But while they are not as beneficial for your health, they are also not harmful either.
Next time you’re at the store, be sure to check the color of the chia seeds before making your purchase so you can select a bag with mainly black and white seeds.
Now that we’ve learned all about black vs white chia seeds, here are some additional questions we thought you might have.
Can you substitute chia seeds with linseeds?
Linseeds, also known as flax seeds, are an excellent alternative to chia. Linseeds are slightly larger in size than chia seeds, but they contain about the same amount of protein and fiber.
In addition, linseeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. While omega-3s are found in many types of food, linseeds contain a higher amount of this beneficial nutrient than chia seeds.
As a result, linseeds are an excellent substitute for chia seeds!
What’s the best way to enjoy chia seeds?
Chia seeds are an incredibly versatile food! They can be enjoyed whole, ground, soaked, or raw, which makes them a great addition to a variety of dishes.
- Whole chia seeds can be sprinkled on top of salads or cereals for extra texture, while ground chia seeds can be a great egg substitute in vegan baking.
- Raw chia seeds can be added to smoothies or yogurt for a boost of protein and fiber.
- Soaked chia seeds can be used to make a variety of healthy pudding recipes. When soaked, chia seeds will form a thick gel, which can also be used as a thickening agent in a variety of dishes.
No matter how you choose to enjoy them, chia seeds are a delicious and nutritious way to add some extra goodness to your diet.