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Chia Seeds: Do they really live up to the hype?

Posted by Allie on 21st February 2016

High in antioxidants, chia seeds may also help prevent insulin resistance.
Photo: Pixabay.com

Sometimes it seems like there is always a new health food or drink that suddenly becomes fashionable and it can be hard to know which ones are actually worth the hype. You may have heard of chia seeds, which are becoming increasingly popular as an easy and nutritious addition to a healthy diet, but are they really worthy of all the attention?

Once a dietary staple of the indigenous people of Central America and Mexico, chia is an edible seed produced from the plant Salvia Hispanica. Known locally for its medicinal purposes, such as relieving painful joints, chia seeds are now widely available in health food shops and supermarkets. Judging from their nutritional benefits, it appears that the attention chia seeds are getting is indeed warranted. Not only are they incredibly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds also contain high amounts of antioxidants, iron, fibre, calcium and protein. They are also gluten-free.

Some research studies have found that chia seeds reduce blood pressure and cardiac disease, may help control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes (1), and are an anti-inflammatory protecting against autoimmune diseases and cancer (2). Studies on rats have also shown that chia seeds can prevent, or normalise, insulin resistance (3), which women with PCOS can suffer from. You can learn more about PCOS and insulin resistance here.

Not only are they incredibly nutritious, chia seeds can also be easily incorporated into a diet. Unlike flax seeds, they don’t have to be ground first for their oils and nutrients to be released and can be added to pretty much anything. Sprinkle chia seeds on cereal, salads, yoghurts, in smoothies, or enjoy as a snack on their own. When added to water and allowed to sit, chia seeds form a gel-like consistency and can be used in baked goods, such as oat bars and healthy muffins.

References

Note that referenced or mentioned authors, websites and organisations are not affiliated with, nor endorsing, the content published on Positive PCOS.

1: V. Vuksan et al. 2007. Supplementation of Conventional Therapy with the Novel Grain Salba (Salvia hispanica L.) Improves Major and Emerging Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Diabetes Care. 30 (11): 2804-10.

2: N.Ali et al. 2012. The Promising Future of Chia, Salvia hispanica L. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. Article ID 171956.

3: A.G. Chicco et al. 2008. Dietary Chia Seed (Salvia hispanica L.) Rich in Alpha-linolenic Acid Improves Adiposity and Normalises Hypertriacylglycerolaemia and Insulin Resistance in Dyslipaemic Rats. British Journal of Nutrition. 101(1): 41-50.

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