Chia seeds are the tiny black seeds from a plant that grows wild in Central and South Americas called Salvia hispanica. The plant is a member of the mint family. According to legend, ancient Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds as a source of energy. An ounce of chia seeds contains around 9 grams of fat and almost all the carbs (12 gm) are fiber (11 gm) making them a low net carb food which is preferable to maintain ketosis when doing a ketogenic diet. In addition, the fats in chia seeds are primarily heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which are also important for brain health too. Their conversion to DHA and EPA omega-3’s poor, but they are very beneficial to improve health alone.
Chia seeds have proven health benefits and are good energy sources when you use fat as your fuel, such as in ketogenic diets. They regulate cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and decrease inflammation in your body. A large cohort of women in The Nurses’ Health Study found a 40% reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death in women who ate the highest amount of ALA.
When it comes to cardiovascular disease prevention, combining chia seeds with other heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids, such as DHA and EPA seems to give additive effects. The Cardiovascular Health Study cohort found a 50% lower risk of fatal ischemic heart disease with higher intakes of ALA, DHA and EPA.This study evaluated 5,000 men and women ages >65, the group most affected by heart disease, and showed a good benefit of ALA, but DHA and EPA were probably more important.
Chia seeds are also high in fiber which helps you gut flora live well, helps you to have better BMs, and keeps you more regular. One tablespoon of chia seeds will give you almost 20% of your daily fiber intake needs. The fiber may also help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and slow down digestion due to it’s bulk formation. A slower digestion could prevent blood sugar spikes after eating a meal with carbs. In addition, high fiber promotes a feeling of fullness, so you eat less if you pay attention to your gut signals. This could help in weight – loss.
In conclusion, chia seeds are very beneficial to your help reducing CVD through many pathways. They are very beneficial for your health. Analysis of these compounds reveals many health improving benefits.
Gerster H. Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)? Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1998;68(3):159-73. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9637947
Albert CM, Oh K, Whang W, Manson JE, Chae CU, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Hu FB. Dietary α-linolenic acid intake and risk of sudden cardiac death and coronary heart disease. Circulation. 2005 Nov 22;112(21):3232-8. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.105.572008
Lemaitre RN, King IB, Mozaffarian D, Kuller LH, Tracy RP, Siscovick DS. n− 3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids, fatal ischemic heart disease, and nonfatal myocardial infarction in older adults: the Cardiovascular Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb 1;77(2):319-25. DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/77.2.319