Also known as salvia hispanica, chia seeds are originally from central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. Chia seeds were once cultivated by the Aztecs and are now widely grown in other parts of Central and South America.
It is “ivory to charcoal-colored” and tastes slightly nutty. Aside from being used commercially for its hair and fur-like appearance on the popular Chia Pet terracotta figurines, it has recently been making its mark on the health world.
Chia seeds are packed with heart-healthy and digestive-friendly ingredients. In 1 tablespoon there is approximately:
- 4 g fiber
- 1.75 g alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3)
- 2 g protein
- 89 mg calcium
Omega-3, an essential fatty acid in chia seeds, lowers triglyceride and blood pressure levels, decreases heart-related disease risks, has anti-inflammatory benefits, protects against arthritis, and also features cardioprotective properties.
Additional research indicates 7-24 g chia seeds baked into white bread reduced postprandial glucose and decreased appetite.
Chia seeds are regarded as safe when taken up to 12 weeks at a time.
However, medical authorities indicate those breast-feeding and pregnant should avoid chia seeds due to a lack of clinical research.
Also, certain chia types may raise triglyceride levels in some individuals. For those with high triglyceride levels, Salba is a recommended chia type that doesn’t markedly increase triglycerides.
Alpha-linolenic acid may increase prostate cancer risk when consumed in large amounts. Consequently, medical authorities warn those with high risks of prostate cancer or for those who already have it to avoid eating large chia amounts.
During a study analyzing chia seed’s effects on postprandial glucose and appetite, 7-24g chia seeds were used.
-  “Salvia hispanica L.”. Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2000-04-19.
-  “Chia.” WebMD.
-  Kerri-Ann Jennings. “Do Chia Seeds Deserve Their Health Hype?” Huffington Post.
-  Norlaily Mohd Ali, et al. “The Promising Future of Chia, Salvia hispanica L.” Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 171956, 9 pages
-  Vuksan V, et al. “Reduction in postprandial glucose excursion and prolongation of satiety: possible explanation of the long-term effects of whole grain Salba (Salva Hispanica L.). Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Apr;64(4):436-8.