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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Healthy Weight Loss Ideas

Healthy Weight Loss Ideas

Losing weight can be a long, stressful process that requires time and motivation. When you have come to the point where you need to lose some extra pounds, it can be a daunting task to find the best weight-loss solution. Do not rely on fad diets that promise rapid weight loss because quick weight loss can lead to loss of muscle mass, bone and water. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that healthy weight loss should be done gradually by making smart lifestyle choices.
Eat Whole Grains
An ideal weight loss plan is one that involves healthy foods. Begin by switching to whole grains and cleaning out all white processed foods from your diet. Processed foods lack vitamins, minerals and fiber and are high in sugar and calories, which can lead to obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. Whole-grain products are rich in fiber, helping you stay full longer, which can aid in weight control. Read the labels and look for the product's 100 percent whole grain stamp.
Eliminate Soft Drinks
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the amount of sugar in one 12-ounce can of regular soda is equivalent to 10 teaspoons of sugar and consists of more than 200 calories. Although diet soda is calorie-free, long term consumption can also lead to weight gain. Because the body cannot use the artificial sweetener for energy, it starts to crave something substantial to get the calories it needs. To combat the craving, you eat more food, leading to an increase in calories and, subsequently, weight gain. If you want to maintain your weight or lose weight, try a healthier option such as sparkling water, unsweetened tea or coffee.
Low-Fat Diet
According to the, 20 to 35 percent of your calories should come from fats. Fat has 9 calories per gram, while protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. Foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, such as butter, cheese and some red meat, are considered the bad fats. These foods are not only high in fat, but have additional calories and sugar. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are the good fats and they are found in foods such as olive and canola oils, fish, nuts, and sunflower, flax or chia seeds. These foods come from more natural sources rather than processed. To eliminate excess calories and sugar that come with the bad fats, replace them with the good ones.
Caloric Intake
The body uses calories for energy to perform several necessary physiological processes. In order to calculate your daily calorie needs, determine your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, which is the number of calories your body needs while at rest. A pound of fat has 3,500 calories, so you must create a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories a week to lose 1 pound. Subtract 500 calories from your BMR through either eating less or burning calories via exercise to lose 1 pound in seven days.
Mediterranean Diet
Try the Mediterranean diet, which incorporates healthy oils, nuts, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. The diet concentrates on limiting red meats to once a month while including fish and poultry twice a week. The diet also calls for low-fat dairy products, switching out salt with seasonings and herbs, and physical activity. The diet is not a quick weight-loss solution, but a way to a healthy lifestyle by causing gradual weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Staying Away from Fad Diets [] Healthy Diets []
Harvard School of Public Health: How Sweet Is It? []
Harvard School of Public Health: Sugary Drinks or Diet Drinks: What's the Best Choice? [] Fat Grams: How to Track Your Dietary Fat []
Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol [] Counting calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics [] The Mediterranean Diet []