Chia seed benefits, side effects, warning and uses
December 29, 2011
Cardiac and liver Issues
It has been believed that Chia seed benefits people suffered from certain cardiac and liver issues. Chia seeds contain
α-linolenic acid (ALA). In a study, diets of the treatment groups were supplemented with 5% chia seeds after 8 weeks
on high fat diet for a further 8 weeks. Compared with the high fat rats, chia seed-supplemented rats had improved
insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, reduced visceral adiposity, decreased hepatic steatosis and reduced cardiac
and hepatic inflammation and fibrosis without changes in plasma lipids or blood pressure. Chia seeds induced lipid
redistribution with lipid trafficking away from the visceral fat and liver with an increased accumulation in the heart. [3]

Researchers from University of Litoral, Argentina showed that intake of chia seed prevented the onset of dyslipidaemia
in a study of rats. [1] While, researchers from The University of Arizona showed that intake of chia seed could improve
the n-6/n-3 fatty acid ratio in rats; proper ratio of fatty acids may lower the risk of having coronary heart disease. [2]
However, the preliminarily data on Chia seed is promising, more clinical studies are needed to clarify its effects or
support its health benefit-claims.

Lipid Profiles, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a health problem associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Chia seeds may benefit
people at risk of high triglyceride, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. In a study, rats were fed a sucrose-rich (62.5 %)
diet during 3 months; by the end of this period, stable dyslipidaemia and IR were present in the animals. From months
3-5, half the animals continued with the sucrose-rich (62.5 %) diet and the other half were fed a sucrose-rich (62.5 %)
diet in which the source of fat was substituted by chia seed (sucrose-rich (62.5 %) diet+chia). The control group
received a diet in which sucrose was replaced by maize starch. The results showed that: (i) dietary chia seed prevented
the onset of dyslipidaemia and insulin resistance in the rats fed the sucrose-rich (62.5 %) diet for 3 weeks--glycaemia
did not change; (ii) dyslipidaemia and insulin resistance in the long-term sucrose-rich (62.5 %) diet-fed rats were
normalised without changes in insulinaemia when chia seed provided the dietary fat during the last 2 months of the
feeding period. Dietary chia seed reduced the visceral adiposity present in the sucrose-rich (62.5 %) diet rats. [7] In
another study, participants consumed their habitual diet but with a calorie reduced for 2 wk. They were then assigned
to placebo or a special diet containing soy protein, nopal, chia seed and oat. All participants have decreases in body
weight, BMI, and waist circumference during the 2 month treatment. However, only the group treated with the special
diet had a decrease in serum triglyceride, C-reactive protein, and insulin level and glucose intolerance after a glucose
tolerance test. [A2] Another study from Canada shows that Salvia Hispanica L. (Salbais) is able to reduce postprandial
glycemia in healthy subjects. [B2] However, more clinical studies are needed to verify its potential health benefits on

Several studies have been performed to evaluate the efficacy of dietary n-3 fatty acid for patients with renal
dysfunction. While about 40% to 80% of patients with end-stage renal disease complain about pruritus. In a study, a
topical formulation containing 4% chia seed oils were applied to volunteers with pruritus for an 8-week duration. After
the 8 weeks of application, significant improvements in skin hydration, lichen simplex chronicus, and prurigo nodularis
were observed in all patients. [6]

Sport performance
Chia seed may benefit people in sport. A high dietary carbohydrate (CHO) intake for several days before competition is
known to increase muscle glycogen stores resulting in performance improvements in events lasting >90 minutes. This
study compared performance testing results between 2 different CHO-loading treatments. The traditional CHO-loading
treatment served as the control (100% cals from Gatorade). The Omega 3 Chia drink (50% of calories from Greens
Plus Omega 3 Chia seeds, 50% Gatorade) served as the Omega 3 Chia loading drink. Six highly trained male subjects
performed a 1-hour run on a treadmill. There was no statistical difference between Omega 3 Chia loading and CHO
loading. Under these conditions, Omega 3 Chia loading appears a viable option for enhancing performance for
endurance events lasting >90 minutes and allows athletes to decrease their dietary intake of sugar while increasing
their intake of Omega 3 fatty acids but offered no performance benefits. [4]

Weight loss
Does Chia seed offer health benefits of weight loss? Egras AM, and co-workers at Thomas Jefferson University
reviewed a few articles. They identified the data for conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), Garcinia cambogia, chitosan,
pyruvate, Irvingia gabonensis, and chia seed for weight loss. CLA, chitosan, pyruvate, and Irvingia gabonensis
appeared to be effective in weight loss via fat modifying mechanisms. [5] However, in a study of healthy but overweight
subjects, ingestion of 25 g of chia seed or placebo mixed in 0.25 L water twice a day before the first and last meal for
12 weeks did have any differences in body composition, inflammation, oxidative stress, blood pressure, and lipoprotein.

From some basic studies, Chia seed has been recognized as a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid; it may provide
various health benefits. However, research studies, especially clinical studies, for its health claims are very limited.

Chia seeds side effects
Chia seed, at normal dosage, probably is safe for most healthy subjects, as it has been used as food for many years.
Chia seeds side effects may include low blood pressure and low sugar levels at high doses. People on hypotensive or
anti-diabetic agents must consult with their doctors before taking chia seeds tea, extracts or related products. Minor
side effects may include flatulence, allergy, and bloating.

Conclusion and Discussion
Chia seed has been promoted as a superfood by various marketers and even a popular TV show. Based on its
content, chia seed may provide many health benefits. However, scientific evidence is insufficient for most of its benefit
claim. (As of December 29, 2011)

Egg or Oil Replacement for Cake Preparation
An article published by Borneo R. and co-workers from Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología, Argentina suggests using
chia gel as a replacement for oil or eggs. They used Chia gel to replace 25%-75% of oil or eggs in a control cake
formulation. They reported that 25% chia gel cakes were not significantly different from the control for color, taste,
texture, and overall acceptability. The 50% oil substituted (with chia gel) cake, compared to control, had 36 fewer
kilocalories and 4 g less fat per 100-g portion. [B1]

[1] Chicco AG, D'Alessandro ME, Hein GJ, Oliva ME, Lombardo YB. Dietary chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) rich in alpha-
linolenic acid improves adiposity and normalises hypertriacylglycerolaemia and insulin resistance in dyslipaemic rats. Br
J Nutr. 2009 Jan;101(1):41-50. Epub 2008 May 20. [2] Ayerza R Jr, Coates W. Effect of dietary alpha-linolenic fatty acid
derived from chia when fed as ground seed, whole seed and oil on lipid content and fatty acid composition of rat
plasma. Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(1):27-34. Epub 2007 Mar 14. [3] Poudyal H, Panchal SK, Waanders J, Ward L,
Brown L. 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. 2011 Mar 22. [4] Illian TG, 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. [5] Egras
AM, Hamilton WR, Lenz TL, Monaghan MS. An evidence-based review of fat modifying supplemental weight loss
products. J Obes. 2011;2011. pii: 297315.  [6] Jeong SK, Park HJ, Park BD, Kim IH. Effectiveness of Topical Chia Seed
Oil on Pruritus of End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Patients and Healthy Volunteers. Ann Dermatol. 2010 May;22(2):
143-8. [7] Chicco AG, D'Alessandro ME, Hein GJ, Oliva ME, Lombardo YB. Dietary chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) rich
in alpha-linolenic acid improves adiposity and normalises hypertriacylglycerolaemia and insulin resistance in
dyslipaemic rats. Br J Nutr. 2009 Jan;101(1):41-50. [A1] Nieman DC. et al, Chia seed does not promote weight loss or
alter diesease risk factors in overweight adults. Nutr. Res. 2009(6):414-8. [A2] Guevara-Cruz M. et al, A dietary pattern
including nopal, chia seed, soy protein and oat reduces serum triglycerides and glucose intolerance in patients with
metabolic syndrome. J Nutri. 2012 Jan, 142(1): 64-9. [B1] Borneo R, et al, Chia (Salvia hispanica L) gel can be used as
egg or oil replacer in cake formulations. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jun;110(6):946-9. B2 Vuksan V, et al Reduction in
postprandial glucose excursion and prolongation of satiety: possible explanation of the long-term effects of whole grain
Salba (Salvia Hispanica L.). Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Apr;64(4):436-8.
Chia Reviews
Chia is an annual herb growing to about 3.3 ft tall, and it is in the family of Lamiaceae. Chia has opposite leaves and its
flowers are purple or white and in clusters. Chia is native to central America, people there use Chia seed as a food
source and Chia seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Chia seeds placed in water or
fruit juice as a drink, known as chia fresca. The soaked seeds are used in gruels, porridges and puddings, and ground
chia seed is used in breads, cakes and biscuits. Chia sprouts are used in salads, sandwiches and other dishes. Chia
seed is a good source of protein, fatty acid (ALA), and dietary fiber, thus, Chia seed is considered as a superfood by
some people.

Chia Seed
Different Chia seed products have different nutrition facts. More or less, Chia seed products contain fat, sodium,
carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamin A, calcium, niacin, vitamin C, iron and thiamin. It may also have boron, caffeic
acid, quercetin, myricetin and kaempferol flavonols. Consequently, Chia seeds have been suggested to have many
benefits - Chia seed has been promoted as an aid for weight loss, blood sugar balance, prevention of diverticulitis, as a
source of omega-3 oil, source of energy, and as a bomb of antioxidants. This article reviews scientific evidence for the
health benefit-claims of Chia seeds.

Related Names: Salvia hispanica
Different people may experience different side effects and benefits of Chia Seed. You are encouraged to report adverse side effects of Chia Seed
supplement to FDA, its website is, or report its side effects to the manufacturer, you should be able to find the contact information on
the label.

There are always new information. Please, send me an email ( to correct my mistake(s). Reasonable care has been taken in
preparing this document and the information provided herein is believed to be accurate. The information is not intended to be a substitute for
professional medical advice. It is important to seek the advice of a physician about any medical condition or symptom or the benefits and side
effects of Chia Seed. Finally, please, do not transfer the article to other website. Thank you. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.