What are Chia Seeds ?
- What are Chia Seeds ?
- Biochemical Structure Of Chia Seeds
- Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
- Possible Side Effects
Chia Seeds represents a biannual tropical and subtropical growing plant that originates from Central America. It belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae) that produces small, flavorless, dark or white seeds. (1)
Chia seeds consist of 22-24 g/100 g protein, 26-41 g/100 g carbohydrates, 18-30 g/100 g dietary fibers, 4-6 g/100 g ash. It is abundant in vitamins, antioxidants and essential minerals. It shows low concentration of fatty saturated acids such as palmitic and stearic acid, moderate level of linoleic acid (18-20%) and high concentration of alpha-linoleic fatty acids (55-60%).
Chia seeds are abundant in fiber and omega-3-fatty acids. They are as well rich in chlorogenic acid, caffeci acid, quercetin and kaempferol.
Quercetin is an antioxidant that lowers the risk of cardiovascular disorders, osteoporosis and cancer.
Kaempeferol is an antioxidant linked with the lower incidence of cancer and certain Chia diseases.
Chlorogenic acid is an antioxidant that decreases blood pressure, whilst caffeic acid is an antiinflammatory agent.
Chia seeds are rich in numerous minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, copper, selenium, iron, magnesium and calcium. (2)
Biochemical Structure Of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are mainly composed of proteins (15-25%), fatty acids (30-33%), carbohydrates (26-41%), dietary fibers (18-30%), ash (4-5%) and dry matter (90-93%). They are gluten free.
Of polysaccharide fibers there is tetrasaccharide, and of the monosaccharide fibers there are
16% of D-xylose 1D-mannose, 2% D-arabinose, 6% D-glucose, 3% galacturonic acid, and 12% glucuronic acid.(3)
Chia seeds are rich in phenolic compounds that are of high antioxidant functions. Antioxidative phenols in chia seeds are flavonoids and cinnamic acid derivatives.
There are as well gallic, caffeic, chlorogenic, ferulic and rosmarinic acids. All of them consist of myricetin, quercetin and kaempeferol.
Tocopherols are the most active phenolic compounds in chia seeds. Amongst isoflavones, thera are daidzin, glycitin, genistin, glycetin and genistein.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of sulfur amino acids such as cysteine and methinone, as well as arginine, aspartic and glutamic amino acids.
Nevertheless, they are an excellent source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, most commonly omega-3-fatty acids that are not produced in the organism. There are three subtypes of omega-3-fatty acids: alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Their role is most prominent in the prevention of cardiovascular disorders, high cholesterolemia and hypertension, as well as the maintenance of eye vision. (4)
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds may improve risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, lead to better gastrointestinal health and increase blood levels of heart-healthy omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Chia seeds may regulate serum lipid levels, thus prevent the onset of cardiovascular disorders, inflammatory processes and neurological disorders and diabetes.
Chia seeds are abundant in dietary fibers and are helpful in the reduction of cholesterol ,regulation of glycemic and insulin metabolic reactions, intestinal functions, prevention of cardiovascular disorders and anticancer and antioxidant reactions. (3)
Chia seeds are powerful antioxidative plants, thus effective in fight against the formation of free radicals that lead to the onset of cancer and premature ageing.
They are rich in antioxidative substances such as phenolic compounds that inhibit oxidative reactions and decrease the level of free radicals.
In comparison to blueberries, chia seeds are more abundant in antioxidative substances.
Due to high amount of the phenolic components, chia seeds are effective in the reduction of the local and metastatic cancer potential.
Chia seeds are abundant in magnesium and phosphorus and are rich source of electrolytes. Such composition is of extreme importance for proper body hydration and muscle function.
Chia seeds has moderate amounts of zinc. Zinc is important for the majority of immune system reactions, protein synthesis and wound healing process.
Chia seeds are rich in dietary fibers and aid to the bowel peristalsis. They promote gastric fullness, bowel regularity and daily stools. (5)
Their consumption may even inhibit appetite, thus leading to weight loss.
It has been noted that topical application of chia seed oil is effective in pruritus and xerosis medical treatment.
Chia seeds oil has been also used in individuals as skin moisturization product.
Chia seeds are high in omega-3- fatty acids, particularly alpha linolenic acid (ALA).
In certain animal studies, it has been shown that chia consumption may improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. There was as well noted a reduction in visceral fat, fatty liver and its inflammatory processes. (6)
Chia seeds are most effective in individuals with type 2 diabetes. It has been shown that chia seeds consumption may lower certain risk factors such as hs-CRP and vWF.
Chia seeds are high in fibers and are of extreme benefit in diabetic patients. They are able to reduce glucose levels postprandialy as well as inflammatory parameters. (7)
Chia seeds are able to decrease insulin resistance and regulate glucose levels, thus decreasing the risk factors for metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.
Chia seeds are recommended in individuals with high blood pressure due to linoleic acid.
Linoleic acid is essential amino acid and has cardio and neuroprotective properties. (8)
Due to high carbohydrate concentration in chia seeds, they are used as nutritional energetic component of sports drink. (9)
Chia seeds are gluten free, therefore recommended in individuals that are gluten intolerant and suffer from coeliac disease.
Chia seeds are rich in nutritients such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and protein that are important for bone metabolism.
Chia seeds are high in dietary fibers and are able to promote gastrointestinal health and reduce the amount of pathogen microorganisms.
The higher intake of dietary fibers has been linked to the increase in the postprandial satiety and reduced hunger.
Chia seeds enhances cognitive functions.
The glutamic acid activates the central nervous system that is responsible for its immune reactions and athletic endurance.
The aspartic acid is in charge of hormonal regulation in the central nervous structures. (10)
Possible Side Effects
Due to phytic acid in chia seeds, certain mineral uptake such as zinc and iron may be
If consumed in higher amounts, chia seeds may lead to blood thining effects due to omega-3-fatty acids.
- Mohd Ali N1, Yeap SK, Ho WY, Beh BK, Tan SW, Tan SG.The promising future of chia, Salvia hispanica L.J Biomed Biotechnol. 2012;.
- V. Vuksan.Salba-chia (Salvia hispanica L.) in the treatment of overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes: A double-blind randomized controlled trial.Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases. Volume 27, Issue 2, February 2017, Pages 138–146
- Domancar Luka Orona-Tamayo.Chia―The new golden seed for the 21st century: Nutraceutical properties and technological uses. October 2016
- Maira Rubi Segura-Campos. Chemical and Functional Properties of Chia Seed (Salvia hispanica L.) Gum.International Journal of Food Science. Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 241053, Research Article
- Imran M, Nadeem M, Manzoor MF, Javed A, et al..Fatty acids characterization, oxidative perspectives and consumer acceptability of oil extracted from pre-treated chia (Salvia hispanica L.) seeds. Lipids Health Dis. 2016 Sep 20;15(1):162.
- de Souza Ferreira C. et al .EFFECT OF CHIA SEED (SALVIA HISPANICA L.) CONSUMPTION ON CARDIOVASCULAR RISK FACTORS IN HUMANS: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW.Nutr Hosp. 2015 Nov 1;32(5):1909-18.
- Domancar Luka Orona-Tamayo. Chia―The new golden seed for the 21st century: Nutraceutical properties and technological uses. October 2016
- Poudyal H et al..Lipid redistribution by α-linolenic acid-rich chia seed inhibits stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 and induces cardiac and hepatic protection in diet-induced obese rats.J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Feb;23(2):153-62
- Illian TG1, Casey JC, Bishop PA.Omega 3 Chia seed loading as a means of carbohydrate loading.J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Jan;25(1):61-5.
- Rocco Bochicchio. Innovative Crop Productions for Healthy Food: The Case of Chia (Salvia hispanica L.). The Sustainability of Agro-Food and Natural Resource Systems in the Mediterranean Basin. pp 29-45