Chia Seed Health Benefits
November 4, 2013
The name may ring familiar in people’s ears, especially those who owned chia pets. But, chia seeds are much more than decoration on figurines.
Chia seeds have a long history of being used for medicinal purposes, dating back to the Aztecs. This ivory and charcoal-colored ingredient is becoming more and more recognized for its health benefits.
Chia seeds are a great fiber source, providing roughly 8 g per 2 tablespoons. According to health professionals, men and women need 38 g and 25 g per day, respectively. Eating healthy fiber amounts is linked with improving coronary disease risks, ameliorating metabolic syndrome, and even combatting obesity.
There is approximately 4.7 g protein in 2 tablespoons. Chia seeds are a versatile ingredient and can be thrown into several dishes to add flavor and a protein boost.
Chia seeds are making waves due to high omega-3 content as well. High omega-3 levels are linked with various health benefits.
- 1. Low blood pressure
- 2. Decreased heart disease risks
- 3. Reduced arthritis symptoms
- 4. Anti-inflammatory effects
- 5. Cardioprotective benefits
Due to high polyunsaturated fatty acid and omega-3 levels, researchers conclude chia seeds are an effective substitute to fish and other seed oils. Also, scientists indicate its flavor and smell make it a preferable choice.
Effects on Blood Sugar
In one double-blind trial, scientists studied chia seeds’ effects on post-meal blood sugar levels in 11 test subjects by mixing 7-24 g chia seeds into 50 g white bread. The experimental period lasted approximately 120 minutes. Results show chia seed inclusion lowered postprandial glycemia. Also, chia seed supplementation decreased appetite ratings.
Although evidence surrounding chia seed’s weight loss properties isn’t conclusive, its benefits are promising.
During one study, test subjects consumed a “habitual diet but reduced by 500 kcal” for 2 weeks then consumed a placebo or a dietary pattern (DP) beverage (soy protein, nopal, chia seed, and oat) for a 2-month period. Results show all the participants lost body weight and experienced decreases in waist circumference and body mass index. However, serum triglycerides decreased only in the DP beverage group. Having high triglyceride levels are known to increase the risk of heart disease.
Topical chia seed oil appears to improve xerotic pruritus symptoms when administered over an 8-week period. As a result, skin moisture also increased.
Chia seeds are also known for their antioxidant activity. One study chia seed’s antioxidant properties are “comparable to the commercial antioxidant Trolox.” Its properties were tested in a water-in-oil food emulsion model.
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