The purpose of this blog is to encourage a healthy lifestyle with food, exercise and nutrition. By posting recipes, food ideas, lifestyle changes, exercises and exploring recent scientific literature, we hope that you will be inspired to make a change whether it is small or large.
Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia! The gift that grows! And all this time I just
thought it was an annoying commercial for an odd product (for those of you
familiar with Chia Pets). But as it turns out, seeds from the chia plant (Salvia
hispanica L.) are making their way into the American diet and for good reason
too. Below is a summary of the nutritional composition of chia seeds, the most
recent scientific findings, and some delicious recipe ideas from Master Chef
Chia seeds are made up of 15-25% protein, 30-33% fats,
26-41% carbohydrates, 18-30% dietary fiber, and vitamins and minerals (%
composition varies depending on environment, climate, and soil conditions). Chia seeds do not contain gluten. Chia seeds are rich in α-linolenic acid (ALA) which is an essential omega-3 fatty acid that
research suggests is useful for the prevention of heart disease.
Chia seed clinical trials:
Like most clinical trials of natural products, clinical
trials regarding the health benefits of chia seeds produced differing results,
though it is speculated that differences among these clinical studies are due
to variations in treatment durations, variations among participant groups, and
variations in the composition of the chia seeds used in each study. Numerous
large-group studies are still needed to make any definite conclusions.
Nevertheless, here is a summary of five recent chia seed clinical trials:
1. In 2009, overweight adults were subjected to 25 g chia
seed twice per day or placebo for 12 weeks. Although α-linolenic acid plasma
levels increased in patients consuming chia seed, there were no significant
effects on weight loss or disease risk factors.
2. In 2010, eleven healthy subjects received bread
containing 0, 7, 15, or 24 g chia, and blood glucose and appetite were measured
after two hours. The results showed a dose-dependent decrease in postprandial
glycemia (blood glucose levels after eating) for all subjects that consumed
bread containing chia vs bread without chia, and appetite ratings were
decreased as well.
3. Subjects with metabolic syndrome were put on a
low-calorie diet and given either placebo or a shake containing soy protein,
nopal, chia seed, and oats for two months. Those that took the health shake
yielded greater body weight loss and reduced triglyceride and blood glucose
levels, though these results cannot be attributed to chia seed alone since the
shake contained other healthy ingredients.
4. In 2012, a study showed that 10 postmenopausal women who
consumed 25 g chia seed per day for 7 weeks had significant increases of α-linolenic
acid plasma levels.
5. The most recent clinical trial I could find was published
in July of 2012 where scientists studied the effects of milled and whole chia
seeds on disease risk factors in overweight, postmenopausal women. Although
both whole and milled chia seed consumption increased plasma concentrations of α-linolenic
acid, there was no overall effect on inflammation or disease risk factors when
consuming 25 g/day chia seed for 10 weeks.
Chia seeds with oatmeal, strawberry yogurt and granola
Photo Credit: Jenny
Other recent findings:
A study in June of 2014 determined that the total phenolic
concentration in chia seed is 1.8-fold higher than previously thought, and its
antioxidant activity is greater than previously reported.
In 2013, researchers studied the effects of chia seed on
glucose and lipid metabolism in insulin-resistant rats. The authors found that
replacing corn oil with chia seed in the diet of these rats significantly
reduced adipose tissue volume and distribution, improved lipid metabolism,
normalized glucose metabolism, and reversed insulin resistance and
In 2012, using rats, scientists found that supplementing a
high fat, high carbohydrate diet with chia seeds resulted in improved insulin sensitivity,
reduced visceral fat, and reduced heart and liver inflammation compared to rats
on a similar diet without chia seeds.
Overall, more research is needed to make any definitive
claims regarding the health benefits of chia seed consumption, but the current
research suggests numerous health benefits due to the high amounts of α-linolenic acid and dietary fiber.
Jenny’s Chia Superfood Ideas
Chia seeds go well with anything. I know that the seeds expand to make you feel fuller and content. Be careful to not get the seeds all over your kitchen or you will have an awful time cleaning them up. My mom spent ten minutes getting them out of the kitchen washcloth. They tend to stick to ANYTHING which is why they are great for digestion. I commonly add my chia
seeds with my protein shakes and oatmeal. Just add about a teaspoon to a
tablespoon of chia seeds to: