The Chia Seed Diet is based on consuming Chia seeds. Chia seeds are black or white seeds that consist of numerous beneficial nutrients such as protein, fiber, carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins, which can support the body in many ways including supporting healthy weight loss. While evidence exists that the Chia seed is beneficial in many ways, can it really aid weight loss?
In addition to no research supporting the claim that Chia seeds aid in weight loss, Chia seeds may also cause some side-effects. With that in mind, our research team investigated the science of the Chia seed to determine if it’s a worthwhile addition to a person’s diet. Here’s a summary of their findings.
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What is the Chia Seed Diet?
The Chia Seed Diet is based on Chia, an edible seed that has its origins in the desert plant Salvia Hispanica, initially grown in the region known as modern-day Mexico, during the times of Mayans and Aztecs.
“Chia” translates to strength, and legend has it that the ancient civilizations based in this region used these tiny black and white seeds to energize their bodies, which is a sensible thing to do, as these seeds are packed with healthy nutrients including protein, fiber, carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids and calcium and antioxidants, WebMD reports.
Chia seeds are a whole-grain, organic superfood, accepted by the human body as seeds, contrary to flaxseeds, which are not.
The Chia Seed Diet consists of making Chia a part of your meal in various forms to reap the benefits of its long list of nutrients. Their nutty, mild flavor makes them a very convenient addition to regular foods and beverages. It’s a very versatile ingredient.
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How Did the Chia Seed Diet Start?
The Chia Seed Diet is not an invention of the modern age, as it dates back to as early as 3500 B.C. when Chia was a significant part of the Aztec diet.
Apart from being eaten whole, it was used as an ingredient in medicines, added to drinks, pressed for oil and ground into powder. It was convenient for travelers, as it could be stored for long periods of time.
Although Chia seeds have been categorized mostly as a “novel food” for most of modern history, in the past few decades, health-conscious individuals have diverted their attention to making seeds a part of their regular diet, as they are packed with beneficial nutrients, while lacking the more harmful ones.
It is also used by environmentally conscious individuals who follow a vegetarian diet, using a substitute for eggs in baked items.
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Percentage daily values are based on the recommended 2,000-calorie diet for the average U.S. adult. Your daily values may vary according to your requirements based on weight, age and activity levels.
Benefits and Results
The Chia Seed Diet Benefits and Results
Improves Digestive Health
Chia seeds contain plenty of fiber with only one tablespoon, packing 4.8 grams of fiber, which is equal to around 19 percent of the daily recommended fiber intake. This abundance of fiber dramatically benefits the digestive system by ensuring regular bowel movements and healthy stool. The high fiber content also helps people feel full more quickly by absorbing large amounts of water, as well as expanding in the stomach upon consumption.
Improves Heart Health
Chia seeds can improve heart health by regulating cholesterol and lowering blood pressure, according to Livestrong.
Source of Omega-3 Fats
Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which play an essential role in maintaining good heart and brain health. Research shows that daily consumption of Chia seeds in healthy amounts leads to a sharp increase in omega-3 fatty acids in the body.
Improves Brain Function
A good source of B vitamins, Chia seeds can help improve the function of your nervous system by providing it with the energy it requires.
Improves Red Blood Cell Count
Chia seeds can improve the production of Red Blood Cells inside the human body with only a single tablespoon containing 6 percent of the daily recommended intake of Iron, a nutrient necessary to the production of red blood cells.
Making Chia seeds a part of your diet can lead to stronger bones, as the seeds are a major source of Phosphorus, Manganese, Calcium, and Copper, which are all nutrients that play an important role in the formation and strengthening of bones.
Chia seeds can and are being used to replace egg content in baked goods, thereby reducing the reliance on the poultry industry and reducing the global carbon footprint.
Prevents Premature Skin Aging
Chia seeds are extremely beneficial for skin, due to the massive amount of antioxidants present in them. These antioxidants accelerate the skin repair process and prevent them from further damage; hence preventing premature skin aging, due to inflammation.
According to studies, chia seed consumption produces the same results as sports energy drinks; hence giving you the same amount of energy without the high-sugar content or the unhealthy chemicals.
Improves Dental Health
Chia seeds can do wonders for your teeth as they’re packed with calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and zinc. Calcium is one of the most fundamentals minerals required to help maintain healthy teeth. Zinc avoids tartar by preventing plaque from solidifying on your teeth and also acts as an antibacterial agent keeping bad breath away.
Promotes Muscle Growth
Chia seeds are an excellent source of protein and can significantly assist people trying to build a lean and muscular body by providing them with the right nutrients, minus all the fat and sugar.
Details on the Chia Seed Diet and Weight Loss
Consuming Chia seeds has often been hyped as a great way to lose weight because of their tendency to expand in your belly, making you feel full while eating less. Another reason Chia seeds are believed to be linked to weight loss is that of their high-fiber content (approximately 10 grams of fiber per ounce of seeds) which can make us feel full for longer, as it takes a longer time for our bodies to absorb nutrients from the fiber.
Additionally, fiber provides energy for gut bacteria, which reduces inflammation in our bodies, often linked to weight loss, as that inflammation is one of the primary causes of obesity.
Despite all the claims of Chia being the magical key to losing weight, scientific evidence tells a conflicting story.
A study conducted in 2009, published in Nutrition Research, found that Chia seeds showed no weight loss in 90 overweight adults after 12 weeks of consumption when compared to a placebo group. The study even found that the consumption of Chia seeds in large quantities may also interfere with nutrient absorption, causing bloating.
However, another study conducted in 2014, published in Nutrición Hospitalaria, found that subjects who consumed Chia in various forms exhibited a slight reduction in weight and waist size when compared to those who didn’t, suggesting that Chia may help burn belly fat.
While Chia has many nutrients that can promote weight loss and provide numerous other benefits, conflicting scientific research shows that the claims about Chia seeds acting as a magical key to weight loss are just an overstatement.
Therefore, Chia seeds should be complemented with proper exercise, as well as an overall healthy diet to achieve weight loss.
How to Utilize the Chia Seed Diet
You can add Chia seeds to your diet in various forms. Some of them include Chia seed oil, powdered Chia, and whole seeds sprinkled on foods such as smoothies, pancakes and protein bars.
The following are different ways you can consume Chia seeds:
While consuming Chia seeds in their raw form is not recommended because of their tendency to stick to your teeth and to cause dehydration, it is the quickest and most convenient method of consumption. You may chew them on their own or add them to your favorite foods and beverages.
To soak the Chia seeds, mix them with water in a 1:10 ratio, which is approximately equal to 1.5 tablespoons of seeds in a cup of water. Let it sit for 1-2 hours. Note: If you decide to consume Chia seeds without soaking, make sure to stay hydrated, because Chia seeds can absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, and if consumed unsoaked, they would absorb the water from your body.
An alternative to soaking is grinding Chia seeds in a grinding machine to break the outer shells. Once turned to powder, the resulting Chia seed flour can be used in place of regular flour in bread, pasta, and baked items.
Another way to reap the benefits of the vast amount of nutrients packed inside Chia seeds is to extract its oil, which makes up for 25-40 percent of its weight. It can be used as an alternative to regular cooking oils, which have many harmful effects, such as raising cholesterol levels.
Whereas, Chia seed oil has been known to have the very opposite effect on cholesterol levels by lowering them even further, according to Healthfully.com.
The daily recommended average intake of Chia seeds is 20 grams (1.5 tablespoons) twice a day, but it may vary according to the individual’s weight, size, age and activity levels.
Potential Chia Seed Diet Side Effects and Interactions
Due to the high fiber content present in Chia seeds, they may cause many different types of stomach discomforts, such as diarrhea, bloating and cramping, especially when consumed in large amounts.
Blood Pressure Medicine
Chia seeds are known to lower blood pressure and may enhance the effect of blood-pressure-lowering medicines. Therefore, people who are currently taking anti-hypertensive drugs should consult with a qualified health care practitioner before making Chia seeds a part of their diet.
Blood Sugar Medicine
Studies have shown that Chia seeds contain specific compounds that may assist in regulating serum glucose levels, thereby enhancing the effect of medicines designed to control blood sugar. Therefore, people on medication should consult with their physician before making Chia seeds a part of their diet, advises Livestrong.
A typical monthly supply of Chia Seeds, according to the recommended dosage for a single adult, costs around $10-$20, which is quite reasonable when compared to other foods/supplements that contain the same amount of nutrients as Chia seeds.
Chia Seed Diet Alternatives
If it’s difficult for you to get a hold of Chia seeds on a regular basis, or if you have grown tired of their taste, then don’t worry, because there are plenty of alternatives to the “super-food.”
Sesame Seed Diet
Sesame seeds have always been a part of recipes in virtually every culture in the world since ancient times.
They are not just an amazing source of fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive system, but they are also packed with several vitamins and minerals that are essential in and maintaining overall health, says Livestrong.
Sesame seeds contain B vitamins which are essential for efficient metabolism and also promote radiant skin, strong hair, and muscles.
The seeds also promote healthy bones by being a rich source of calcium and also contain magnesium, which can help in the absorption of this calcium, in addition to maintaining thyroid function.
Sesame seeds, packed with nutrients essential to maintaining good health, when consumed help treat conditions, such as high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
The seeds can also aid lung function, reduce inflammation, strengthen bones and reduce bad cholesterol levels.
Just like Chia seeds, you should only consume small amounts of sesame seeds.
The recommended daily intake is just 1 to 2 tablespoons, which would allow you to reap the maximum nutritional benefits without going overboard. People with food allergies should exercise caution and should consult with their physician if any allergy symptoms should occur upon consumption of Sesame Seeds.
Flax Seed Diet
Flax, a plant native to the Mediterranean, has been grown as a source of food for over 5,000 years. People use flax seeds for various health benefits.
Although slightly larger, they are similar in shape to sesame seeds and have smooth, shiny and hard shells. Flax seeds provide a maximum nutritional benefit when ground since it enhances the absorption of their nutrients inside the human body.
Flax seeds, like Chia seeds, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, copper, iron and dietary fiber. They also contain phytochemicals called lignans..
The consumption of oil extracted from flax seeds has been proven to reduce bad cholesterol.
Other benefits of flaxseed oil include relief from skin irritation, due to dryness and constipation.
Hemp Seed Diet
Hemp seeds, derived from the hemp plant are extremely nutritious and have a mild, nutty flavor.
Just like Chia seeds, they also contain beneficial fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, which are linked to several health benefits.
They are also an excellent protein source since more than a quarter of their calories come from protein, considerably more than the 16-18 percent protein content of chia seeds and flax seeds.
They also contain several vitamins and minerals.
Hemp seeds can be consumed in various forms: cooked, toasted or raw. They can also be pressed for oil, which has been used in China as an ingredient in foods and medicines for at least 3,000 years.
Moreover, studies on animals have demonstrated that hemp seeds may lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of blood clot formations.
Hemp seed oil may also be beneficial to dry skin, as it can improve itchiness, acting as an alternative to skin medication.
Despite a lack of scientific evidence, hemp seed consumption has been known to significantly reduce the intensity of symptoms experienced by women going through menopause.Although its exact working is unknown, it is thought to curb the hormonal imbalances and reduce the inflammation caused by it.
Hemp seeds are also an excellent source of fiber, and their regular consumption in moderate amounts is linked with improved digestive health.
Rich in all sorts of beneficial nutrients, hemp seeds are extremely beneficial for people of all ages and genders. However, they do contain trace amounts of THC, which is the active component in marijuana, responsible for its reputation. Therefore, people who have been addicted to cannabis might want to avoid hemp seeds in all forms.
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“Easy to follow, good recipes, and the chia seeds were easy to find. I bought mine at The Vitamin Shop. No flavor to speak of; they take the flavor of whatever you mix with them. Just started the diet so I can’t vouch for its effectiveness, but I’m going to give it a serious try.”
The Bottom Line on the Chia Seed Diet
What’s the real deal with Chia Seed Diet? Not an actual weight-loss plan, this more of a basic idea of adding the food to your diet. In theory, it increases your fiber intake, which should help control appetite and blood sugar, making it easier to eat less. But, in practice? We have reservations.
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Chia seeds have a high fiber and protein content. They can help you lose weight.
How long do you have to soak chia seeds?
Take one-fourth cup of chia seeds and soak them in one cup of liquid about 20 minutes.
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How do you eat chia seeds?
You can eat dry chia seeds by adding it to juices, yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies.
What are the benefits of chia seeds?
Chia seeds are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants and provide your body with fiber, calcium and iron.
What is one serving of chia seeds?
A serving size is one ounce or two tablespoons.
How many times a day should I eat chia seeds?
The recommended amount for adults is between 15-20 grams per day. For children, age 10-18, they should have about 10 grams of chia seeds each day.
Do chia seeds need to be ground to be effective?
Chia seeds do not need to be ground to be consumed. The FDA classifies this as a food and not a supplement, so they can be consumed without restrictions.
Where does the chia seeds come from?
The chia plant is native to southern Mexico and Guatemala. It’s a flowering plant in the mint family.
Do you actually digest chia seeds?
The human body can easily digest chia seeds. However, it should not be the only source of protein a person consumes.
How do you make chia pudding?
For chia pudding, combine the seeds with sugar vanilla extract. Allow them to sit in a bowl for 10 minutes. Stir and cover to refrigerate overnight. Add raisins or coconut to the top to increase taste.