Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

Today we are going to discuss another fantastically healthy food that is currently under the radar but definitely gaining steam in the nutrition world. Today we are going to talk about Chia seeds.

May of you have probably heard the name chia before. Back in the day the seeds were popular to use in the those little rubber pets that sprouted. The chia seeds I am talking about are just like the little sprouting pet things, except you will actually want to eat the seeds, not the sprouts. Chia seeds provide tons of nutritional benefit and are a great addition to yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies and more.

1oz of chia seeds contains 9 grams of fat, 5 of them being from the extremely healthy omega-3 family. That is an even better source than flax seeds! That same 1oz contains 11 grams of fiber! That is an astounding number, and for those of you who struggle on low-carb diets to get enough fiber, this is a perfect food to help improve that intake. The fiber is also mainly soluble, so somewhat like glucomannan, it expands and forms a slow-moving gel, helping to keep you fuller longer.

Chia seeds are also very good sources of calcium, phosphorus and manganese, and they have even more antioxidants than flax seeds. These are definitely some nutritious little seeds.

Clearly the nutrition facts of chia seeds look very promising, but does this actually translate into real-world results?

Unfortunately there is not a whole lot of research on chia seeds. What research there is does look promising. In 2007 there was a study on a small sample of diabetics. Patients who consumed up to four teaspoons per day (not that much really) reduced their blood clotting factors by 20%, decreased inflammation by 30%, increased omega-3 content by 80% and decreased their systolic blood pressure by 6 points.

For full disclosure, that research was sponsored by the company who sold the chia seeds used in the trial. I am not stating that influenced the results, but it certainly makes me a little leery and I would definitely want to see this research duplicated. Regardless, it is promising none-the-less.

There is also some recent research on rats. As I have stated before rat digestive physiology is very similar to humans, which is why they are used a lot in nutrition trials. The consumption of chia seeds by insulin resistant rats helped to normalize their high triglycerides, insulin resistance and bodyfat. Now these rats were consuming rather large amounts of chia seeds, and this is very, vert preliminary stuff, but there is no reason to believe that chia seeds couldn’t be a very healthful addition to the diet.

In conjunction with flax, I think chia seeds are a great and easy source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. For people trying to diet, the ability of the soluble fiber in chia seeds should also help to keep that hunger at bay, and it is a pretty good alternative to glucomannan.

While certainly not the cure for cancer (unfortunately no single food is, no matter what someone tries to tell you) chia seeds certainly seem to have a nice little place in a balanced and healthful diet.

For more info, check out Dr. Jonny Bowden’s video on the benefits of chia seeds.

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Posted on August 14th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

11 Comments

  1. Margaret Says:

    For more information about chia seeds, and some recipe ideas, check out my website: http://www.chiativity.org

  2. Cass Says:

    LOVE chia seeds – use them in my shake every morning :)

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