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What’s the Truth about the Chia Seeds?

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Chia Seeds

“Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” irrespective of their tiny size, chia seeds are one of the most nutritious foods. They’re packed with protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and various micronutrients.

A one-ounce/two tablespoons (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contain:

  • Fiber: 11 grams.
  • Protein: 4 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are omega-3s).
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDI.
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDI.
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDI.

This small quantity supplies only 137 calories and one gram of digestible carbohydrate. They also contain a good amount of minerals and vitamins such as zinc, potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2, and vitamin B3 (niacin). Chia seeds are whole-grain foods grown organically, and they’re non-GMO and naturally free of gluten.

BENEFITS

Plant-based foods are associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and overall mortality. 

1. Fiber-rich diet

One ounce of chia seeds provides 10 grams of fiber, which is almost half the daily recommendation for a woman over 50 years.

2.    Weight loss

Chia seeds contain a high amount of fiber and high levels of omega-3-fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid which are useful for weight loss.

3.    Treating diverticulosis

High-fiber diets absorb water in the colon and make bowel movements easier thereby decreasing the prevalence in flare-ups of diverticulitis.

4. Cholesterol and Cardiovascular disease

Increased fiber intake lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Research shows that fiber regulates inflammation and immune system thereby decreasing the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and obesity.

5.    Diabetes

Eating a high-fiber diet helps to keep blood sugar stable thereby lowering the risk of developing diabetes.

The National Institute of Medicine found that diets with 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories reduce the risk of both CVD and T2DM.

6.    Digestion and Detox

Adequate fiber in the diet prevents constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract. Regular bowel movements are crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool.

7.    Goodness of Omega-3s

Omega-3s decrease the risk for thrombosis and arrhythmias, disorders that can lead to heart attack, stroke, and sudden cardiac death.

They also decrease LDL, total cholesterol and TG levels, reduce atherosclerotic plaque, improve endothelial function, and slightly lower BP.

RISKS

1.    Digestive Issues

Fiber is essential for health; however, too much fiber can cause issues for some people. Excessive fiber intake may lead to constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating and gas.

People ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease should limit chia seeds intake during flare-ups.

2.    Choking Risk

Chia seeds can absorb 10–12 times their weight in liquid. If these seeds are consumed without prior soaking, may expand and cause a blockage in the food pipe, increasing the risk of choking.

3.    ALA intake and risk of prostate cancer

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) a type of omega-3 fatty acid is abundant in chia seeds. ALA is known to be beneficial for health, but some studies reported an association between ALA intake and prostate cancer.

However, studies on this association are conflicting as other research found that ALA fatty acids may protect against prostate cancer. Further research is required.

4.    Food Allergy

Chia seed allergies are very uncommon but have been documented. Few people may experience an allergic reaction after consuming chia seeds. The allergy symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and itching of the lips or tongue. Severe food allergy can even lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition.

Gastrointestinal distress, itching, hives, and swelling are also noticed in some people after eating them.

5.    Chia Seeds May Cause Drug-food Interactions

People on medications for high blood pressure or diabetes should moderate their portion sizes to prevent interactions. Chia seeds can lower blood sugar and blood pressure.

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