Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chia Seeds and Weight Loss

The chia pets sold in the 1980’s and '90s were made up of chia seeds that sprouted to show fur or hair on the animal figurines. These same chia seeds are now available for adding to beverages and foods both for weight loss and as a healthy supplement. Chia seeds, which originated in Aztec culture, come from a plant called Salvica hispanica.  Primarily grown in South America, these seeds have become the buzz of the nutrition field.
Chia seeds are packed with nutritional power. According to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, chia seeds first started getting recognition because they were rich in omega-3 fatty acids. But they also contain iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, fiber, and protein. All these essential nutrients help fight inflammation, lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels. The USDA reports that one ounce or 2 tablespoons contains 138 calories, 9 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates,10 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.

Weight loss
Chia seeds contain insoluble and soluble fibers, which leads to fullness after a meal and blood sugar control. This is the reason they are being promoted as a weight loss supplement. However, published studies show conflicting results on its effect on weight loss. Appalachian State University performed a study in 2009 to examine the seeds effect on overweight adults. The participants included the seeds in their diet for 12 weeks and the results indicated no change in their body mass or composition. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study in which type 2 diabetics took chia seeds for 12 weeks. The results were positive in that the seeds in fact reduced blood sugar levels after eating and promoted satiety.
Whether you choose chia seeds for weight loss or a healthy supplement, they are very versatile and can be added to many foods. They are a great addition to a smoothie, fresh squeezed juices or even a low fat milkshake. They are a lot like flax seeds in that they can be mixed into yogurt, oatmeal, rice, salads, sandwiches or scrambled eggs.
Side Effects
Too much of something can often have effects on our body. Since chia seeds have both insoluble and soluble fibers, consuming too much can cause gas and bloating. The omega-3 content and antioxidant properties can lower blood pressure or thin out the blood. If you already have low blood pressure, be cautious when consuming these seeds. Also, if you are on blood-thinning medication or preparing for surgery, do not consume these seeds.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Aztec Diet Secret, What are Chia Seeds?
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USDA: Nutrient Data for 12006, Seeds, Chia seeds, Dried
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