The Truth About Chia

It seems like Chia seeds are the next big thing to hit the health world! I found a great article from WebMd called the The Truth About Chia. Here it is:

Can chia seeds really help you lose weight?

By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

They’re supposed to help control hunger while they enhance your diet with super-nutrients. But what’s the real story on these nutritious seeds and their ability to help you lose weight?

What Is Chia?

Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. “Chia” means strength, and folklore has it that these cultures used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster. That makes sense, as chia seeds are a concentrated food containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium.

Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds (unlike flaxseeds). One ounce (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals.

The mild, nutty flavor of chia seeds makes them easy to add to foods and beverages. They are most often sprinkled on cereal, sauces, vegetables, rice dishes, or yogurt or mixed into drinks and baked goods. They can also be mixed with water and made into a gel.

Can Chia Really Help You Lose Weight?

In theory, chia seeds are supposed to expand in your belly, helping you to feel full, eat less, and ultimately shed pounds. But one study indicates otherwise.

“Over a 12-week period, we did not see a change in appetite or weight loss” in study participants who consumed chia seeds, says researcher David Nieman, DrPH, a professor at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. “Our study showed no reduction in body weight, body fat and no improvement in traditional cardiovascular markers from 50 grams of chia per day.”

A study reviewing the body of scientific evidence on chia found similar results.

“The evidence is limited on chia, and only two clinical trials examined heart health and body weight,” says explains researcher Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD. “One showed some beneficial heart effect, but neither showed any effect on weight loss.”

More study is needed before chia can be recommended either for weight loss and heart health, says Ulbricht, chief editor of Natural Standard Research Collaboration.

Should You Try Chia?

While there’s little evidence for the weight loss benefits of chia, it can be a nutritious addition to your diet. Nieman notes that people in his study tolerated it without any complaints for 12 weeks.

“Use chia seeds in foods, not as a supplement, but as an alternative to processed grains like white bread because it is a much healthier whole grain that is great-tasting in foods like muffins,” suggests Michael Roizen, MD, co-author of You Staying Young.

In the book, Roizen and Mehmet Oz, MD, recommend two daily doses, each consisting of 20 grams (a little less than 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds. The authors also note that the antioxidant activity of chia seeds is higher than any whole food, even blueberries.

Is there any downside to chia? Ulbricht cautions that if you have food allergies (especially to sesame or mustard seeds) or are on high blood pressure medications or blood thinners, you should ask your health care provider before adding chia to your diet.

The Bottom Line on Chia

Enjoy chia seeds for their flavor and to boost the fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3s in your diet. But don’t expect a big weight loss boost.

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet (or seed) for weight loss. If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to follow a healthy, calorie-controlled diet and get more physical activity.

Do you like Chia Seeds? What is your favorite way to use them?

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25 Responses

  1. I’ve never tried chia seeds. I seem them all over blog land, but have not jumped on that bandwagon yet. I had only heard about them in terms of nutritional value, not so much for weight loss.

  2. I like to add chia seeds to my oatmeal. I toss a tsp in when I add my oats. They make the oatmeal creamy and puff it up making my bowl look fuller. 🙂

  3. Thanks for passing on the article. I haven’t tried chia seeds yet because I’m not convinced they’re the superfood they’re advertised to be. I might, though, for the taste and texture they’d add to oats. Maybe.

  4. I use chia seeds in my Green Monsters occasionally. I like the extra fiber they offer!

  5. I do love chia seeds as an addition to my oats or topping of yogurt mixes…I like them crunchy or used like flax like an egg in baked goods.

  6. Chi-chi-chi-Chia. Wow, they’ll think of anything as the next big diet fad. Leave our tasty chia seed alone:) I think it’s like Quinoa’s distant cousin. It makes for great mixins.

  7. they are too expensive for me and i hate how gelatin like they make things…..

  8. I love chia seeds…my favorite was to use them is in chia pudding…sweetened with dates, and bulked up with almonds. So delicious!

  9. I like em. I put them in either my oats or protein pancake batter most mornings, I have to say I like flax seed meal better, but I usually add a tablespoon of each.

  10. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!! I admit, I bought Chia seeds recently after seeing them ALL OVER the blogosphere, and I hadn’t researched them. So thank you for this!! I had them in my oatmeal this morning and really enjoyed them. They definitely do turn to a gel, which I kinda enjoyed. I mix my oats and milk at home and then transport to work to heat, and they were definitely gel-y by then, but in a good way! I love the fiber content, woo! And they are not expensive at all at Whole Foods in the bulk section -score!

  11. ive tried them before…come to think of it i have a bag rotting in my fridge from last year…oops…

  12. I love chia seeds 🙂 They always go in my oats!

  13. I have a bunch of chia seeds and I’ve really tried to love them. I don’t like the pudding everyone loves, but I do make chia gel and keep it in my frdige at all times. It makes a good thickener for smoothies and I keep meaning to try it out in baking. I don’t eat it for the health benefits though- I don’t think I eat a big enough quantity to get them.

  14. I have never tried Chia seeds but I see them on practically all blogs. i may have to look for them at Earthfare!

  15. I love adding them to my smoothies! Thanks for the info

  16. DH and I love our chia seeds. We put in in oatmeal, in yogurt, in protein shakes……we even put it on top of our pizza.

  17. I havent tried chia but see them everywhere and want to see what the hype is about.

  18. thank you for this article!!! i bought some this fall after seeing them all over the blogs. i used them up and didn’t buy any more after that. i enjoyed them but wasn’t in love with them. better to spend my money on other things, like ice cream making supplies!

  19. I love how informative this post is! I haven’t really gotten into them, not sure why.

  20. I got some chia seeds for a sample. I use them occasionally in smoothies and stuff.

  21. i really love chia seeds but i never really buy them cuz i dont use a lot. i think i should get a small bag in the bulk section, that way i wont feel frazzled trying to use up a whole bag. i know theyre the new ‘hemp’ seed in our modern world, and they have total reason to be. i mean, like you said, look at their nutrition stats!

    xoxo ❤

  22. This was really interesting, thanks! x

  23. thanks for your very thoughtfully constructed comment today 🙂

    Chia. Omg JUST made a recipe with them to be revealed in a few days. It’s dehydrating right now….

  24. I used to use them in my oatmeal. It made it fun! I need to get more just need some money as well.

  25. Thanks for the great info on chia seeds…I love chia seeds in smoothies and in over night oats! I am happy that they do not have to be ground up like flax seeds, too! They also are full of nutrients and that makes me smile. 😉

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