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What Are the Health Benefits of Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds originate from the arid plains of South and Central America around 3500 B.C., and these oval-shaped seeds were rediscovered in the late 1990’s. Ever since then these seeds have been used in commercial crops. First cultivated by the ancient Aztecs the chia seed was actually used as a form of currency for the Aztecs. Chia was chronicled as the third most important crop in the Aztec culture, only trailing corn and beans.

Having the scientific name of Salvia hispanica, you will most likely see chia seeds included in meals as they are recommended not to be eaten by themselves. The health benefits of chia seeds may surprise you.

Chia Seeds Promote Cardiovascular Health

Metabolic Syndrome is a health problem associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. One study analyzed the dietary patterns of soy protein, nopal, oat and chia seed, taking into account the biomedical variables of Metabolic Syndrome. One group had a greater decrease in body weight and considerably better cardiovascular functioning, and that was the chia seed group.

Conducting their own research, the Cleveland Clinic concludes that chia seeds are a safe and effective product for treating the risk factors of cardiovascular disease. They recommend a daily dosage of 2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds, which amounts to 15 grams, and 3,000 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids and 5 grams of fiber. For children from ages 4.5 to 18 the Clinic recommends 1 tablespoon per day.

Chia Seeds Can Prevent Stroke

Danshen, the dried root of Salvia miltiorrhiza, another chia plant, is widely used in China. The main clinical uses for danshen in China would be to treat angina pectoris, hyperlipidemia and acute ischemic stroke. Chia seeds are most commonly used a key component of herbal products, and in fact, danshen has been one of the most frequently prescribed formulas for patients who suffered from an ischemic stroke.

Chia Seeds Promote Heart Health

In one study rats were tested to analyze isocaloric diets. These rats went on these diets with the energy derived from either corn oil, whole chia seed, ground chia seed or chia oil for 30 days. After blood samples were analyzed results showed that there were significantly decreased fatty deposits and LDL cholesterol, the bad kind, while the good kind of cholesterol HDL had increased levels. There was also an improvement in the n-6/n-3 fatty acid ratio.

Another study featured 10 postmenopausal women taking 25 grams of milled chia seeds per day during a period of 7 weeks. It turned out that the levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in women increased 30% above the baseline and correlated across time with the signature increase of plasma alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Chia Seeds Contain Antioxidants

Chia seeds were analyzed for phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity, and the total phenolic concentration was 1.8-fold greater than previous reports. Chia seeds have a high antioxidant capacity and are a novel isoflavone source that positively impacts the human diet. Antioxidants fight the development of free radicals, which are the root cause of aging and cancer. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes that longevity determinant genes are found in antioxidants. LDGs are made up of carotenoids, alpha-tocopherol, uric acid, and superoxide dismutase.

Chia Seeds Help Improve Exercise Performance

One study featured 6 participants who would get “carb loaded” with either Gatorade or a combination of Gatorade and chia seeds. These participants ran on the treadmill for 1 hour and then went on a timed 1-kilometer run. It turned out that there was no significant difference between the two separate tests, which means that chia seeds can be useful in replenishing an athlete’s stamina when taken as part of a protein or energy drink. The chia seed intake proved helpful for endurance athletes as they increased their intake of nutrients and decreased their intake of sugar.

Consuming chia seeds will help you burn fat, increase energy and feel full longer. In the Caloric Ratio, Pyramid chia seeds contain 36% carbohydrates, 53% fats, and 11% protein. Key minerals of chia seeds include 177 milligrams of calcium (18% of recommended daily value), and 265 milligrams of phosphorous (27%). The total fiber content of chia seeds is 10.6 grams, or 42% of daily value.

Chia Seeds Promote Bone Health

Research had indicated that chia seeds can be an effective way of maintaining good bone health. Over 60,000 elderly women in Sweden were tested, and those who had a low intake of dietary calcium (less than 700 milligrams) had a greater risk of bone fracture and osteoporosis, than those who had higher calcium intakes. Chia seeds contain much more calcium than milk, about 500% more calcium to be exact. One tablespoon of this superfood gives the body 10% of the recommended daily intake of calcium. Another good supporter of strong bones is magnesium, and chia seeds contain 1400% more magnesium than broccoli. Magnesium enables the body to absorb Vitamin D easier, which allows stability in bones.

Chia Seeds Help Fight Cancer

The blog for the American Brain Tumor Association has documented the experience of one tumor victim named Miguel Partida, who had 8 years of MRI evaluations with his doctors. Partida had been taking as many as 12 medications to treat his tumor condition named Meningioma, but he also worked out a regime involving the consumption of chia seeds, poppy seeds, and distilled water. Reportedly Partida lost 69 pounds of weight since starting this regime and he claims that the chia seeds stopped the development of cancer cells. After going on this regime Partida now takes only 2 medications.

Women will be glad to know that chia seeds can help fight breast cancer as well. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) contains an abundance of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in chia seeds. According to a study, ALA was found to induce apoptosis in breast and cervical cancer cells while causing no damage to non-cancerous cells. Apoptosis is a natural way of eliminating cells that are either damaged or useless.

It should also be noted that men with prostate cancer may experience help with chia seeds, contrary to earlier studies in the 1990’s that found a relationship between ALA and the increased risk of prostate cancer. In 2009 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded through its studies that there is likely to be only a small risk of men obtaining prostate cancer through ALA consumption.

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.