Chia Seeds Benefits, Nutrition & Side Effects
Chia seeds are a superfood. People in India are slowly getting used to this superfood due to amazing chia seeds benefits.
They are a concentrated food containing healthy proteins, fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, calcium and antioxidants.
It is considered to be one of the few functional foods that can be effective in controlling obesity, the prevention of metabolic syndrome, and subsequently, the onset of cardiovascular diseases and type II diabetes mellitus. (1, 2)
- What are chia seeds?
- Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts
- Chia Seeds Benefits and Side Effects
- Chia Seeds Side Effects
- What are chia seeds called in India
- Subja Seeds vs Chia Seeds vs Flax seeds
- How to eat chia seeds?
What are chia seeds?
Chia is a plant (Salvia hispanica) native to Central America.(3)
The plant is said to have originated in Mexico and Guatemala. The Mexican state of Chiapa draws its name from the plant.
Chia seed is a small, brown, black and white coloured grain – no bigger than a millimetre in diameter. The plant is related to the mint family, and its seeds have a nutty taste.
Chia’s when mixed with water or milk, can absorb up to 27 times their weight when soaked in liquid, and create a gel.
- Chia seeds in tamil – சியா விதைகள்
- Chia seeds in telugu – చియా విత్తనాలు
- Chia seeds in marathi – चिया बियाणे
- Chia seeds in kannada – ಚಿಯಾ ಬೀಜಗಳು
- Chia seeds in gujarati – ચિયા બીજ
- Chia seeds in malayalam – ചിയ വിത്തുകൾ
- Chia seeds in bengali – চিয়া বীজ
- Chia seeds in punjabi – Chia ਬੀਜ
Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts
Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds
These are the nutrition values of chia seed per 28 gms or 1 ounce (=1 serving) (5)
* Percent Daily Values (%DV) are for adults or children aged 4 or older and are for a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.
|Dietary Fiber||10.6 g||42%|
|Omega 3 Fats (alpha-linolenic acid)||5 g||1000%+. However it does|
not contain EPA & DHA.
A 28-gram, or 1-ounce, a single serving of chia contains 4.4 grams of protein.
Chia Seeds Benefits and Side Effects
Chia seed is one of the healthiest foods in the world. They’re packed with hard to obtain nutrients that are important for our body and brain.
Chia was an essential plant for the Aztecs. Although a sub-tropical plant, it is now cultivated in parts of USA with the rise in demand among vegans and health enthusiasts.
Health benefits of chia seeds
Here are some science-backed health benefits of chia. Some are still considered inconclusive for the lack of further proof and research:
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1. Packed with dense nutrition.
Chia has dense nutrition with low calories.
They have traditionally been the dietary staple of the Aztecs and the Mayans. It is only now that chia has become recognized as a modern-day superfood.
Health-conscious people from all over the world now consume this extremely popular superfood.
- Protein: 4.4 grams.
- Fibre: 10.6 grams.
- Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are omega-3s).
- Manganese: 30% of the RDI.
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDI.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDI.
- Calcium: 18% of the RDI.
- They also contain small amounts of vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2, vitamin B3 (niacin), zinc and potassium.
For example, 100gms of milk has 125mg calcium, while 100 gms of these seeds has a whopping 631mg of calcium!
Chia is a whole-grain food, non-GMO, usually grown organically. It is also naturally gluten-free.
Evidence also suggests that these seeds may have strong anti-oxidant properties. (7)
You can buy chia online here.
2. Rich source of protein
Protein is essential to human health.
Protein is the major component of our hair and nails. It is used by the body to repair tissue. The body also uses protein to make enzymes, hormones and other essential chemicals. Protein is also an essential building block of muscles, cartilage, skin and bones.
Protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it. But unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore it must be consumed in sufficient amounts in the daily diet. (8)
Protein is a weightloss friendly dietary nutrient.
3. Chia seeds benefits for weight loss
Many believe that chia can help in weight loss. Chia has a significant fibre and protein component both of which are known to help in weight loss.
Its soluble fibre absorbs large amounts of water and expands in the stomach. This increases fullness and slows the absorption of food (12). Several studies have shown that soluble fibre with hydrophilic qualities can lead to weight loss (13, 14).
One study found that eating this seed for breakfast increased short term satiety and reduced food intake. (16)
A 6-month study was conducted in obese people with type 2 diabetes on a reduced-calorie diet with added 30 gms of chia seed daily. It found that this seed caused significant weight loss, reduction in visceral obesity, better glycemic control and reduction in c-Reactive protein compared to a placebo. (17).
Other human studies conducted, however, have failed to show similar health benefits of improvements in body weight and health markers consistently.
While chia alone may not be sufficient to lose weight, it can be part of a healthy diet and exercise strategy.
Chia, with its significant protein and fiber component paired with its hydrophilic ability, is great for keeping hunger at bay.
4. High in omega-3 fatty acids
Compared to the salmon, chia and flaxseeds contain extremely high omega-3 fatty acids.
However, the form of the omega-3 fats is different in both the food sources.
Experts consider the omega-3 fats sourced from animals to be of high quality, while the ones from plants (like chia and flaxseed) are considered vastly inferior. (18)
Omega-3 from oily fish had EPA & DHA, which is the bio-available active forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Chia and flaxseeds contain omega-3 fats in the form of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which needs to be converted to EPA and DHA by the body.
Unfortunately, humans are inefficient at converting ALA to EPA and DHA.
To get DHA for your body and brain needs, either eat fatty fish like salmon at least once a week. Taking fish oil will also work.
5. May lower the risk of heart disease
Chia is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and protein. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for heart health and help in maintaining HDL or “good cholesterol”.
Studies show that consuming chia will help you manage hypertension and high blood pressure.
Rat studies have shown that whole chia seed can lower triglyceride inflammation, while ground chia seed significantly improved the “good “ HDL cholesterol values. (21)
Several studies have tried to examine the direct benefits of chia, but the results have been inconclusive. In fact, one human study did not detect any improvements in risk factors (22).
Studies conducted on humans have shown that the consumption of chia flour can significantly reduce blood pressure in people with treated or untreated hypertension, which is a strong risk factor for heart disease. (22, 23).
Chia seeds can best benefit heart health when combined with beneficial lifestyle and dietary changes.
6. May reduce the Risk Of Diabetes
The National Institute of Medicine has found that adding a minimum of 14 gms of fibre to every 1000 calories consumed significantly reduced the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. (24)
High fiber diets are associated with stable blood sugar levels and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. For every one serving (28.4 gms/1 oz) chia seeds have 10 gms fibre. This makes chia seeds preferable over other food sources of fibre.
Since obesity is closely linked to type 2 diabetes, chia is an excellent addition to the diet, as it increases short term satiety and reduces food intake. This again helps reduce the risk of diabetes. (16)
A 6-month study was conducted in obese people with type 2 diabetes on a reduced-calorie diet with added 30 gms of chia seeds daily. It found that chia seeds caused significant weight loss, reduction in visceral obesity, better glycemic control and reduction in c-Reactive protein compared to a placebo. (17).
Another 2017 study compared chia and flaxseed to study their glycemic control and satiety properties. While both showed improved glycemic control and satiety, chia has a greater ability to ability to convert glucose into a slow-release carbohydrate and increase satiety. (25)
Thus adding chia to the diet may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes; however, if one is already diagnosed with it, chia can help control it better.
7. Help With Bone Health & Osteoporosis
Chia seeds are dense in bone nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese content. In fact, chia seeds have more calcium than milk!
It has a whopping 18% of the RDI of calcium in a meagre 28 gms (single serving = 2tsps).
Combining them with Vitamin D and Vitamin K can make a real difference to people with bone health problems or people who cannot tolerate dairy.
8. Improves Digestion & Relieves Constipation
A diet with adequate fibre improves digestion and prevents constipation by inducing regular bowel movements.
When chia seeds are mixed with water/liquid, its soluble fibre absorbs large amounts of water and expands in the stomach. This increases fullness and slows the absorption of food (12).
The soluble fibre bulks up stool, feeds the friendly bacteria in the gut. This also helps slow the digestion to reduce hunger and make you feel satisfied. Adding an ounce (28 gms) of chia seeds to your daily diet may relieve constipation and improve digestion.
9. May Help With Diverticulosis
The diverticular disease develops in the colon when weak spots in the intestinal wall balloon outwards. Diverticulitis is a condition in which the diverticula become inflamed and infected.
While the exact cause of the diverticular disease is not known, it has been associated with a low fibre diet. (27)
Adding chia seeds to the diet may decrease the prevalence of diverticulitis by absorbing water in the colon and making bowel movements easier.
Chia Seeds Side Effects
As you know, chia seeds are all the rage. Health enthusiasts swear by chia, weight loss is the most popular benefit. But do you know that chia seeds can have some serious side effects? How much of it is good for your stomach? Are you taking them the right way? How can you tell if you are allergic to chia? Should pregnant women take it? Let us find out.
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1 May lead to stomach problems
Chia seeds are packed with fibre. However, too much fibre may not be good for you, especially if you are not used to it. Too much fibre intake may result in bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.
2 May block your food passage if you eat it dry
Chia seeds can absorb a lot of water and expand in volume. It is essential that you soak chia seeds in water first and then have them. Otherwise, if you swallow dry chia seeds and then drink water, they may expand inside your oesophagus and cause a blockage. This happened to one person, and doctors had to clear the blockage with an invasive procedure.
The 39-year-old man swallowed a tablespoon of dry chia seeds and then chased them with water. Since they absorb 27 times their dry weight in water, they expanded in size quickly, thickened into a gel-like mass and got lodged in the man’s oesophagus. This sent him to the ER. The man had a history of swallowing problems. (26)
It is recommended to let chia seeds expand fully in liquid before eating or drinking them to avoid such problems. People with swallowing issues as well as small children may face such problems.
3 High in lectins
Chia seeds are high in lectins and can cause digestive distress. Nutritionists recommend using milled chia seeds instead of whole. Start with a small amount & increase slowly.
4 May not be good for prostate health
Chia seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid. Research suggests that a diet high in alpha-linolenic acid may increase the chances of developing prostate cancer.
5 May not be suitable for pregnant or breast-feeding women
Not much research has been done on how chia seeds may affect pregnancy or breast-feeding. It is best to stay away from untested food if you are pregnant or lactating.
6 May thin out your blood and lower your BP
Chia seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids, but doctors do not consider them to be of the “good” kind. The omega 3 fatty acids may thin out your blood and reduce your blood pressure- but it may not always be a good thing. If you have low pressure or are already taking blood-thinning medications, consult with your doctor about taking chia seeds.
7 You may be allergic to chia
While rare, some people may be allergic to chia seeds. In some cases, people have reported rashes and hives breakouts, watery eyes, breathing trouble and swelling of the tongue.
Remember that everyone’s dietary needs are different, and each body has its own peculiarities. So, before making any changes in your diet, talk to your doctor about whether chia seeds will be suitable for you or not.
What are chia seeds called in India
Chia seeds are not native to India, nor is it grown in India. Therefore, Chia seeds do not have any Indian name.
It is imported from the USA or Central American countries as its demand grows with awareness. It is extremely popular among health enthusiasts.
Subja Seeds vs Chia Seeds vs Flax seeds
In India, chia seeds are often confused with flax seed and seed of tulsi (sabja). However, chia is not native to India and has to be imported. It may not be a part of traditional Indian cooking, but there are so many ways in which you can incorporate this nutritional food item in your diet.
There is a misconception that chia seeds are the same as flax seeds or sabja seeds. The confusion arises from their identical appearances and hydrophilic properties. All of them have health benefits, but they are different.
Flaxseed is linseed. It is known as “alsi” in India. It is mainly used as cattle fodder. Linseed oil is used as an additive in edible oils and for varnishing and polishing furniture. Flaxseed is more elliptical in shape, and appear glossier. Unlike chia, they are of uniform brown or amber colour.
Sabja seed (Basil Seeds) is the seed of Tulsi plant. It is widely used in India in making milkshakes, falooda, sherbets and other cool refreshments. Where chia is black, brown, grey and white in colour, sabja is jet black.
Often, when buying from local shops or unbranded products, shopkeepers may try to pass off seeds like sabja and flax for chia.
To the inexperienced, they look almost similar and exhibit similar hydrophilic properties. It is best to buy from reputed brands. They are available online on various websites.
How to eat chia seeds?
Chia can be easily incorporated into our diets. Chia seeds are flavourless, and hence, can be easily included in any diet. When mixed with water, they can replace egg in vegan cooking.
Eating raw chia seeds
It is recommended that they should be added to another food or soaked before eating.
A popular way to consume chia is to eat it raw. You can soak it in water or milk and it takes on a pudding-like consistency.
Chia seeds will add another texture to your food and make it more interesting.
Eating roasted chia seeds
You can also try roasting chia seeds and then sprinkle them like sesame seeds. Roasting chia seeds give them a slightly nutty flavour.
You can find many recipes online that use roasted chia. A good idea will be to add these seeds to hummus. Use it in your salads to make it crunchy and pack in some omega-3 fatty acids.
How to eat chia seeds for weight loss
They can be easily incorporated in your diet. Here is how to use chia seeds for weight loss:
- Chia seeds soaked in yoghurt: Studies show that having chia seeds soaked in yoghurt reduces snacking as it gives you a feeling of satiety. (12) Soak 2-3 spoonfuls of these seeds in a cup of yoghurt. Or kefir if you have access to it.
- Chia seeds in your breakfast cereal: You can toss in a spoonful or two in milk and let it sit for an hour or so. You can also keep them soaked overnight. Add oats, muesli or cornflakes to the mix and top them with nuts and berries.
- Chia seeds in banana smoothie: Soak chia seeds in milk overnight. Blend with bananas for an extra filling smoothie.
- Chia seeds in pineapple-pear juice: Soak 1.5 spoons of chia seed in 3 spoonfuls of water for at least 30 minutes. Take 2.5 cups of pineapple cubes and 1 cup of pear cubes. Blitz in the mixer together. Now add this seed, a pinch of jeera powder and some black salt.
- Chia seeds in bread spread: It can be sprinkled on jams and spreads for bread. However, it is better that you keep them soaked in the spread for at least 20 minutes so that they become soft and chewable. Otherwise, if you are making your own spread, keep them soaked in the spread base overnight. You can grind the paste or have it as it is later.
Easy Chia Seed Recipes
Chia has become a go-to material for renowned chefs and vegan foodies. Chia can be used to make no-bake desserts and puddings, but it can also be used in baked goods to add to the texture and nutritional value.
You can substitute almond or coconut milk with dairy milk, or use your choice of berries or fruits to make your chia puddings, jams and parfaits.
Chia seed recipes weight loss
Here is a Chia seed recipe for weight loss.
Q1. What are chia seeds?
Chia is a plant(Salvia hispanica) native to Central America. It is said to have originated in Mexico and Guatemala. Chia seeds are small, brown, black and white coloured grains – no bigger than a millimetre in diameter. Chia’s distinct characteristic is that it acquires a slimy, mucilaginous texture when it comes in contact with water. (1)
Q2. Is chia good for the heart?
Chia is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The latter is good for heart health and helps in maintaining HDL or “good cholesterol”. Studies show that consuming chia will help you manage hypertension and blood pressure. (4)
Q3. Is chia good for diabetes or weight loss?
It is also rich in soluble fibres and protein, which makes you feel full for a long time and reduces snacking. This helps manage obesity and can lead to weight loss. This leads to maintaining blood sugar levels and manage diabetes. (4)
Q4. How can I eat chia seeds?
A favourite way to consume chia is to eat it raw. You can soak it in water or milk and have it after some time. Try adding chia seed to your oatmeal or cereals. They can be sprinkled dry, or soak up the milk and become a jelly-like substance. Chia will add another texture to your food and make it more interesting. (7)
You can also try roasting chia and then sprinkle them like sesame seeds. Roasting chia gives them a slightly nutty flavour. You can find many recipes online that use roasted chia seed.
Q5. What are chia seeds called in India?
Chia is not native to India, neither does it grow in India. However, it can be easily ordered online or bought from reputed brands.
Q6. Is chia the same as sabja or flax seed?
There is a misconception that chia seed are the same as flax seeds or sabja seeds. The confusion arises from their identical appearances and hydrophilic properties.
Flax seed is linseed. It is known as “alsi” in India. Flax seed is more elliptical in shape, and appear glossier. Unlike chia, they are of uniform brown or amber colour.
Sabja seed is the seed of Tulsi plant. It is widely used in India in making milkshakes, falooda, sherbets and other cool refreshments. Where chia is a black, brown, grey and white in colour, sabja is jet black.
Q7 What are chia seeds weight loss side effects?
As of now, there are no known side effects of chia. There are, however, some risks of trying to eat them dry from a spoon.
Q8 How to consume chia seeds?
It can be easily incorporated into your diet. You can soak it is water, milk, yoghurt, coconut milk and fruit juice. You can also add it in any flour.
Q9 What is the best time to eat chia seeds for weight loss?
Well, the best time to eat chia seed for weight loss would be as per your convenience. It is generally recommended that you consume it twice a day for effective weight loss. The recommended dosage is 20 grams (about 1.5 tablespoons) of chia, twice a day.
Q10 How to eat chia seeds with water.
To eat chia with water, simply add the seeds to 1:20 proportion of water. Chia expands in water and soaks almost 20 times water. Once the seeds soak water it is ready for consumption. You can add it to your smoothie, milk of any other meal of the day.
Q11 How to eat chia seeds with milk?
To eat chia with milk, you can soak it in the water and later add soaked seeds to the milk.