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Chia Seeds-Are They Good For You?

Updated on October 3, 2016
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Avid, self-taught gardener (I learn as problems arise), bird watcher, and nature lover.

Are chia seeds good for you? Have you ever heard of chia seeds before? Do they have any side-effects? Needless to say, those were my questions. Okay, I’ll admit it, I'm a babe in the woods when it comes to chia seeds. I never heard of these seeds before, and needless to say, I was intrigued by the claims that were being made about these wonder gems. Then again, however intrigued I was, it did not diminish my skepticism. Thus, I decided to do my own research. I will share with you what I learned from my research, and let you be the judge.

What are Chia Seeds

The chia seed is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant called Salvia Hispanica, commonly called "chia". Its flowers are purple or white, and are a member of the mint family. The plants are grown commercially in Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Australia and Guatemala.

Chia seeds are small ovals with a diameter of about one millimeter. They are mottle-colored of brown, gray, black and white.

The History of Chia Seeds

Chia seeds were used regularly in the diets of Aztec and Mayans. In fact, Aztec warriors used the seeds as a basic survival ration. Why? It seems that one tablespoon of the seeds could keep a person full for 24 hours. How? It has to do with the soluble and insoluble fiber that the seeds contain. And as you know, fiber does have a tendency to fill you up for a longer period of time. Due to its high antioxidants, the Aztecs used it to relieve joint pain and improve problems with the skin.

Chia Seeds Health Benefits

Do chia seeds have any health benefits? Absolutely. To my surprise, they do help with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and supplies you with many vitamins and minerals. Here are some of the benefits:

1. Calcium, phosphorus, manganese

2. Contains 25% Dietary Fiber

3. High level of antioxidants

4. 20% of Plant based protein

5. Contains omega 3 fatty acid, similar to that which is found in walnuts and flax. (However, like nuts, they are calorie dense.)

6. May help with weight loss because of the soluble fiber that it contains. However, there is very little research in this area, and thus, I would not take it just for its weight loss capabilities.

7. Aids in digestion

8. New studies are showing that chia seeds are beneficial to reducing triglycerides.

9. Animal studies suggest that the omega-3 can reduce brain levels of the amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer disease.

10. Said to reduce irregular heartbeat

11. When chia seeds dissolve in your stomach, it forms a smooth, soft, gel-like substance which helps your body digest carbohydrates more efficiently before the glucose enters your bloodstream. This would seem to be helpful for diabetics that are in need of controlling their blood sugar.

12. Contains Omega 3 in the form of ALA.

Side Effects of Chia Seeds

Through observation and limited study, experts have noted the following side effects from chia seeds:

1. Gastrointestinal disruptions, such as gas and bloating after eating chia seeds. According to the American Diabetic Association, this is due to the high fiber content in the seeds.

2. Some individuals do have allergic reaction to the seeds. If you are allergic to such irritants like mustard and mustard seed, than it is wise to stay away from chia seeds. Allergic reactions include watery eyes, diarrhea and skin eruptions.

3. If you take blood thinners or on an aspirin regimen, it's wise to consult your doctor before using.

4. If you are planning surgery and you are taking chia seeds, you should stop taking the chia seeds or the gel two weeks before surgery.

4. Chia is a super storehouse of vitamin B17, thus, if you are taking a B17 supplement be aware that it can lead to phytonutrient overdose.

5. Chia seeds are capable of lowering your blood pressure to dangerous levels. Thus, is your are taking something for your blood pressure it is advised to consult your physician before taking chia as part of your regular regimen.

How Do You Prepare Chia Seeds

The most common way of consuming chia Seeds is to make chia gel. People in Mexico and Central America mix the seeds in water and add lime or lemon juice and sugar to make a drink known as "chia fresca." Many researchers believe this gel is equivalent to what takes place in your stomach. Is this a good thing? Yes, by slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar, it can help to control your blood sugar levels, and keeps you full longer.

How do you make the Chia Gel

1. 2 tablespoons of chia seeds

2. 1 cup of water

3. Half a lime squeezed in

Take the mixture and shake briskly. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes, and then shake the contents briskly again. Then place in the refrigerator. This mixture will turn into a gel. The water/chia mixture will last to up to three weeks in a refrigerator.

The recommended dosage of the gel is 2 tablespoons of gel two or three times a day. I would advice moving up to the 2-tablespoon dosage gradually because of the high content of fiber, as well as, to determine how your body will react to the chia seeds. If you decide not to heed my warnings, you may find yourself spending a lot of time in the restroom from the increased fiber.

Once you have created the gel you can place the chia gel in your morning oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, etc.

Note: 1 pound of chia seeds will make approximately 24 cups of gel.

In moderation, chia seeds can offer a different solution to fish oil or even flaxseed. Be in noted, some people have a hard time getting past the look of the chia gel, thus, finding it easier to blend the gel into food, rather than consuming it in its original state. As with any dietary supplement, I would advise consulting your healthcare practitioner before using this product, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or under medical supervision.

This article is for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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