Chia seeds have been hyped as a superfood but is there evidence to back up the health claims?

I got turned on to Chia seeds during a recent visit to our local Cob's Bread bakery on Main Street in Vancouver.

After trying their Chia white, whole wheat and flax breads, I had to admit they were delicious. But I was skeptical that they could be thought of as health food.

Nutritional Benefits of Chia Seeds

According to Cob's Bread's promotional flyer, on a gram-per-gram basis, Chia seeds contain:

  • 15 x more magnesium than broccoli
  • 7 x more vitamin C than oranges
  • 6 x more calcium than milk
  • 3 x more antioxidants than blueberries
  • 3 x more iron than spinach

In addition, Chia seeds contain the highest levels of Omega 3 essential fatty acids of any plant, and is rich in fibre while being gluten-free.

Health Benefits

I checked out the nutritional data on Chia seeds and the marketing material wasn't lying. These little seeds are indeed as close to a superfood as you can get.

With a little more research I discovered a few interesting studies.

One research review study showed that out of two clinic studies on Chia seed, one showed positive impact on cardiovascular disease factors while the other didn't show any effect.

Another study was conducted by Toronto researcher Dr. Vladamir Vuskan. The doctor and his team followed 20 otherwise healthy diabetics over 12 weeks as they took 37 grams of Salba (the white seed version of Chia seed) each day. The study yielded some impressive results:

  • Subjects' blood was less prone to clotting, which is a factor in strokes and heart attacks.
  • The participants had lower levels of internal inflammation in their bodies, which is another factor in cardiovascular disease.
  • They lowered their blood pressure by six points.

In a more recent study, Dr. Vuskan concluded that white bread baked with Salba lowered blood glucose levels in diabetics and prolonged a feeling of fullness after eating.

The Verdict

After looking at the research I think adding some Chia seeds to your diet is a no-brainer. It's easy to do and they'll add a whollop of good nutrition.

You can try some of Cob's Bread's Chia products, look for Salba products at your local grocery store or add Chia seeds to your own cooking. I'll be adding Chia seeds to my smoothies.


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Video with nutritionist Ramona Josephson: