Chia: the bitter truth

Chia seeds: benefit or harm?

Chia seeds are the main superfood of the last few years. According to the advertisement, "this 100% natural supplement contains an unprecedented amount of useful substances;Chia is ahead of the milk in terms of calcium, potassium in them is 2 times more than in bananas, and iron - 15 times more than in spinach. "

The advertising description of the useful properties of the product raises the question of how it could exist at all without these chia seeds. However, is the chia really so useful for health and is it worth it to buy for fabulous money? As always, the answer is completely ambiguous.

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What is chia?

Until the promotion of the product does not include marketers, chia was known as "sage spanish".In fact, chia is an annual plant of about 1-2 m in height with white or purple flowers. It is the seeds of these flowers that are called "chia seeds".

The native land of the plant is Central and Southern Mexico. Before the conquest of the Mayan civilization by the Spaniards in the 1500s, chia along with corn, beans, amaranth( pseudo-grain culture, close to buckwheat and kino) and mate tea was one of the key products in the daily diet of the Aztecs.

The properties of chia seeds

The ancient Aztecs believed that the use of a decoction of ground chia seeds not only could cure respiratory diseases( from coughing up to coughing up with blood), but also helps to normalize digestion and eliminate prolonged diarrhea.

These medicinal qualities resemble the properties of a close relative of chia - Sage. In turn, the drink from its leaves was widely known in ancient Greece and Egypt. The doctor Hippocrates called Sage "sacred grass" and advised using it to strengthen and rejuvenate the body.

Useful properties of Sage

It is believed that the medicinal sage has a strong antibacterial effect, relieves inflammation, acts as a mild diuretic, and also increases immunity. Among other things, tea from Sage is used as an effective soothing and relaxing remedy.

Modern medicine believes that Sage not only normalizes the work of the gastrointestinal tract( improves appetite, eliminates bloating, alleviates gastritis symptoms), but can also be used as a natural antidepressant( 1).The main contraindication is pregnancy and lactation.

Chia seeds: scientific studies of

However, let's return to the seeds of Chia. There is a large number of studies showing that chia is not able to show the effect attributed to it in advertising. It does not lower blood pressure, does not reduce the level of inflammation in the body, does not affect cholesterol or triglyceride levels in the blood( 2).

The only scientifically proven beneficial property of chia seeds is a minimal decrease in appetite which, indirectly, can affect weight loss. However, this effect is only due to the fact that chia seeds are, in fact, a mixture of fiber and vegetable fats.

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Chia composition: minerals

Indeed, 100 g of chia seeds contain 82% of the daily magnesium, 63% of the calcium and 42% of the iron. However, one hundred grams of chia is the typical size of a pack in which these seeds are packed. In a tablespoon with a slide( about 10 g), these minerals will contain exactly 10 times less.

That's why it's incorrect to compare chia seeds with a banana or milk - in fact, a large glass of milk( 300 g) contains as much calcium as 100 g of chia seeds. Put simply, a teaspoon of chia seed is not capable of bringing into your body as much as a significant amount of minerals.

Chia seeds as a source of Omega-3

High content of Omega-3 fats is another advertising slogan about the benefits of chia seeds. In 100 grams of these seeds are actually contained up to 17 grams of Omega-3 - the same as in a steak of salmon. However, the difficulty is that the chia contains plant Omega-3, and in the salmon there are animals.

Scientific studies show that only 5-10% of plant Omega-3( in the form of α-linolenic acid, ALA) can be absorbed by the human body( 3).In fact, a tablespoon( 10 g) of chia seeds is equivalent to only 0.3-0.5 g of fish oil. It is important to take this into account in the calculation of daily intake.


Chia seeds - "superfood", not possessing any magic properties. Most of the facts about the benefits of chia are related to the relative Shafran, and information about the "unprecedented" amount of minerals and Omega-3 misleads the buyer, since it implies 100 g of dry seeds.

Scientific sources:

  1. Salvia officinalis: WebMD, source
  2. Salvia hispanica:, source
  3. Efficiency of conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to long chain n-3 fatty acids in man, source