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Maybe you’ve already heard about the incredible benefits of chia for improving heart health and lowering cholesterol. But did you know it offers much more than that? Do you know how to include it in your diet in order to get the best possible value from it?
In addition to being a superfood that promotes a healthy heart, this impressive seed has a wide range of other benefits including everything from aiding with weight loss and regulation of the digestive system to decreasing blood pressure and fighting aging.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Our Selection: The Best Chia Products on the U.S. Market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Chia
- 3.1 What exactly are chia seeds?
- 3.2 What are the benefits of having chia daily?
- 3.3 Can chia help you lose weight?
- 3.4 How does chia support the heart?
- 3.5 Are the omega-3s in chia and fish the same?
- 3.6 How should I take chia if I want to improve my skin appearance?
- 3.7 Can chia seeds help with constipation?
- 3.8 What does it mean that chia is a prebiotic?
- 3.9 What restrictions are there on chia consumption?
- 3.10 What is the recommended daily chia intake?
- 3.11 When should I take chia supplements?
- 3.12 Which form of chia is best for me?
- 3.13 Whole Chia Seeds
- 3.14 Chia Powder
- 3.15 Chia Capsules
- 3.16 Chia Oil
- 3.17 Should I consume chia seeds or capsules?
- 3.18 Why is chia powder recommended for vegan athletes?
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Chia is known for containing high levels of omega 6, omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber and protein. Chia is also a great source for many essential minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium and copper.
- Chia is very versatile; it can be consumed in the form of seeds, powder, capsules or oil, depending on what the consumer prefers.
- Chia is considered a nutraceutical seed, since it’s naturally occurring and offers beneficial health effects that have been scientifically proven, including lowering blood pressure, decreasing the risk of heart attack and strokes, boosting athletic performance and more.
Our Selection: The Best Chia Products on the U.S. Market
These days, you’ll find all kinds of supplements based on chia, each with different nutritional and therapeutic purposes. The products also vary in form—capsule, oil, seed or powder. In this section, we’ve picked out the very best chia supplements on the market, accompanied by a description of each to help you make the most informed choice.
Best Whole Chia Seed
These whole chia seeds from BetterBody Foods are packed with nutrients that can help anyone live a better, healthier life. Mix one tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water, let it sit for five minutes, and consume in your favorite way to get 5350mg of omega-3, 10g of fiber and 5g of protein per serving.
This product works great in baked goods like bread, cookies and muffins, as well as salads, yogurt, cereal and much more. The options are endless! And this product is ideal for vegans, vegetarians and anyone with food intolerances: it’s organic, gluten-free, nut-free, non-GMO and low-carb.
Best Chia Snack
If you want the amazing benefits of chia, but aren’t eager to take a supplement every day, check out this tasty Chia Squeeze snack from Mamma Chia. It combines organic chia seeds with fruits and vegetables to make a convenient, easy, fun snack for people of all ages. Choose from delicious flavors like Blackberry Bliss, Green Magic and Strawberry Banana.
Each snack comes full of the nutrients you need and love: 1200mg of omega-3, 4g of dietary fiber and 2g of complete protein. The snack is also non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free and Kosher. Have one before or after a workout, put one in your kid’s lunchbox or take a few to the office to share with your colleagues—we’re sure they’ll love it!
Best Chia Capsules
Don’t like the taste of Chia? Don’t fret! These capsules from Natures Craft are easy to swallow but packed with chia seed oil and all of its benefits. Get minerals like zinc and iron, Vitamin E, protein and more. The capsules make a great workout supplement, and are also great for teeth health, weight loss, digestion, skin and hair.
Each capsule contains 500mg of chia seed oil. Take one capsule once or twice daily, preferably with a meal. Shop confidently, as this product is quality tested, manufactured in the US and non-GMO. Give your body the fuel it needs to support your health and happiness with this fantastic product.
Best Chia Powder
Navitas Organics Chia Powder contains 100% gently milled organic chia seed sourced straight from small farms in Mexico and other parts of South America, where chia originates. This powder becomes a gel when soaked in water, making it a great addition to smoothies, soups, oatmeal and other tasty treats. It contains no fillers or added ingredients, and is non-GMO, kosher, vegan and gluten-free.
Each serving of two tablespoons provides you with 3g of dietary fiber, 2g of protein and a healthy dose of magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium. Choose from packages of 8, 16 and 32 ounces to suit your needs and budget.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Chia
In this section, you’ll find comprehensive information about chia’s benefits, its nutritional value and advice relating to taking chia supplements. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision regarding whether this is the right supplement for you.
What exactly are chia seeds?
On average, 100 grams of chia provides:
- 550 calories
- 12-16 grams of complex, low-GI carbohydrates
- 28-32 grams of (mostly insoluble) dietary fiber
- 20 grams of high-quality protein
- 34 grams of fats (Omega-3 alpha-linolenic and Omega-6 linoleic)
- No cholesterol
- Minerals: iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, copper, magnesium and phosphorous
- Antioxidants: chlorogenic acid, flavonoids and caffeic acid
Once scientific studies confirmed the benefits of regular chia seed consumption, chia supplements were developed in the form of powders, capsules and oils to make chia easier to consume on a regular basis. These forms also concentrate the nutritional elements of the seed, thereby boosting the health effects.
What are the benefits of having chia daily?
- Heart: lower risk of heart attack and cardiac arrhythmia
- Blood vessels: decreases blood pressure, glycemia and cholesterol. High levels of any of those can damage blood vessel structure and forms a risk factor for heart and brain diseases, in addition to circulatory problems (varicose veins, cellulitis, venous thrombosis).
- Brain: lower risk of cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) and neurodegenerative pathologies like Alzheimer’s. Boosts cognitive function.
- Skin: delayed cellular aging of skin, which leads to improved appearance and fewer wrinkles.
- Bowel: treatment of constipation, prebiotic function: supports growth of healthy bacteria in the colon.
- Stomach: slower appetite and extended feeling of satiation because chia takes a while to digest.
- Bones and joints: strengthens bones and supports bone mineralization due to high calcium content. Omega-3 helps to limit inflammation and joint pain.
- Liver: protection of liver health and helps treat liver problems.
Can chia help you lose weight?
Chia seeds contain mucilage, a type of soluble fiber that helps the body retain water and other liquids in the stomach. This slows digestion and makes you feel full for longer, helping you to resist the urge to snack in between meals. Make sure to take chia with plenty of water so that it forms a mixture in the stomach and produces the desired appetite-curbing effects.
How does chia support the heart?
- Omega-3 and 6: These fatty acids have a lipid-lowering effect. That means they lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Omega-3 also produces other benefits for heart health; it lowers the risk of arrhythmias and triglycerides and helps the body avoid clot formation.
- Antioxidants: flavonols, vitamin E, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid are all powerful antioxidants. They neutralize free radicals that cause oxidative damage to cells found in the heart and blood vessels.
Are the omega-3s in chia and fish the same?
How should I take chia if I want to improve my skin appearance?
- Vitamin E (tocopherol)
- Chlorogenic acid
- Caffeic acid
The last two antioxidants are used in facial rejuvenation treatments. Aging is a natural and irreversible occurrence, but the process is also accelerated by stress, a bad diet, a sedentary lifestyle, environmental factors and smoking. Regularly consuming chia can improve skin health and softens the appearance of wrinkles.
Can chia seeds help with constipation?
The soluble fiber found in chia is also useful, since it absorbs a lot of water and other liquids, thereby providing moisture to the fecal material and supporting its expulsion. This kind of fiber is a moderate intestinal stimulus, which means it prevents or treats constipation, without resulting in swelling or flatulence.
These benefits may not result when taking chia in the form of capsules or oil.
What does it mean that chia is a prebiotic?
Chia’s prebiotic activity regulates intestinal function and hinders the growth of tumor cells in the colon. In order to take advantage of chia’s prebiotic benefits, the seeds need to be consumed in whole or powder form.
What restrictions are there on chia consumption?
- People who have issues with early satiety (for example, following gastric bypass surgery) should not consume whole or powdered chia because its volume increases significantly as it absorbs water in the body. For these people, soft chia capsules may be more suitable.
- For those with diverticulosis (diverticula in the colon), chia seed and powder is safe to consume. Until recently, there was a widely-believed myth that small seeds could get stuck in the diverticula and produce an infection, but this belief has no scientific basis.
- In cases of diverticulitis, which is when the diverticula become inflamed, chia seeds and powder should be avoided. Oil and capsules are okay to consume.
- Anyone with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may want to avoid chia seeds or powder when symptoms are present.
- For diabetics, the whole or crushed chia seed acts as a hypoglycemic, which reduces the glycemic impact of foods rich in carbohydrates (such as pasta, potatoes and rice).
All of these points are related to the fiber that chia contains, which delays digestion and the subsequent absorption of glucose found in carbs like bread, potatoes, rice and pasta.
Even though the benefits for diabetics are especially important, people who depend on insulin should be sure to consult with a doctor about adjusting dosage depending on the amount of chia they are consuming. This is important because there is a risk of hypoglycemia.
- Those who suffer from blood clotting disorders, and are taking anticoagulant drugs, should speak with their doctor prior to consuming chia. Chia can cause issues for these people, especially in the form of capsules and oil, since omega-3 has a strong anticoagulant effect that, when combined with the medication, can produce negative side effects.
- Pregnant and lactating women should consume whole or crushed chia seeds and avoid capsules or oils. Research has indicated that taking omega-3 supplements during pregnancy and lactation is unsafe.
What is the recommended daily chia intake?
The maximum chia intake for adults is 20 grams of whole seeds or powder per day. Children older than 2 years can take chia, but not more than 5 grams each day.
Excessive chia intake cause result in digestive discomfort (bloating, diarrhea, flatulence or pain) and some cases of pruritus on the skin (itchy or irritated skin) have also been found. When taking capsules and chia oil, 1 to 3 capsules or 1 tablespoon of oil is the recommended daily dosage for adults.
When should I take chia supplements?
Which form of chia is best for me?
- Whole seeds
- Powder (crushed seeds)
- Soft capsules
- Chia oil
Whole Chia Seeds
You should always take chia seeds with a sufficient amount of liquid. Try mixing them with water, juice, milk, smoothies or soup. Chia seeds also go great with salads, yogurt, fillings, muffins, sandwiches and cereal.
When hydrated, chia seeds expand significantly and form a gel that is visible with the naked eye. In this form, chia makes a great alternative for eggs in vegan dishes. It can also be used in sauces and jams.
The nutritional profile of chia powder is very similar to that of chia seeds: it’s high in protein, fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, complex carbs, vitamin E, antioxidants and minerals. The only major difference is that digesting whole chia seeds is more difficult for the body.
As with the seeds, you can mix chia powder with pretty much any drinks or solid food.
Chia oil is produced via cold extraction in order to maintain optimal nutritional quality. Because of this, it’s important not to cook or boil the oil, as high temperatures can deteriorate fatty acids.
|Whole seed||Powdered seed||Capsules||Oil|
|Taste||Mild, imperceptible||Slightly bitter||Neutral||Soft|
|Consumption||Mixed with water, other liquids or solid preparations. It needs to be hydrated in water for full benefits||Mixed with water, other liquids or flours for baking||Can be taken with a sip of water||Can be swallowed directly or mixed with dressings, sauces and yogurts|
|Daily dose||15-20 grams||5-20 grams||1 to 3 capsules||1 tablespoon|
|Protein (per serving)||4.58 grams||7.2 grams||None||None|
|Fiber (per portion)||6.6 grams||4.9 grams||None||None|
|Omega-3 and omega-6 (per serving)||4.98 grams||1.08 grams||From 500 to 800 milligrams depending on the dose||8 grams|
Should I consume chia seeds or capsules?
Chia seeds and chia powder maintain all of their nutritional benefits. They are recommended for those hoping to improve nutrition, lose weight and limit their risk of cardiovascular diseases. These products can also help treat or prevent constipation, regulate bowel function, normalize blood pressure and lower blood sugar levels.
Athletes, pregnant women and children over 2 years of age should take chia in seed or powder form.
Chia oil and capsules contain pure omega-3 and omega-6, in addition to vitamin E. They are good for people suffering from heart disease, joint problems, atherosclerosis, liver disease, high cholesterol, poor memory or anyone who has suffered a stroke.
These products are also a great option for those who can’t tolerate or don’t like chia seeds but still want to take advantage of its nutritional value.
|Whole seed||Weight issues, high blood pressure, diabetes, diverticulosis, constipation, high cholesterol. Healthy adults, pregnant women, seniors and children (from 2 years old)|
|Powder||Same as seed but also athletes, because the powder is digested and absorbed faster, even though the nutritional content is basically the same.|
|Chia oil capsules||Cardiovascular disease (arrhythmias, history of heart attack, ischemia or stroke) High cholesterol, high triglycerides. Arthritis, osteoarthritis. Liver disease. Those who can’t tolerate the whole seed or powder. Irritable bowel syndrome|
|Chia oil||For anyone with the restrictions mentioned for capsules, as it has the same therapeutic effects|
Why is chia powder recommended for vegan athletes?
In this section, we review the most important factors to keep in mind when purchasing a chia supplement. Each form of chia has its pros and cons, but you need to find the one that best suits your needs and lifestyle.
State of Health
The best chia product for you depends, in part, on your current health and which health benefits you seek. For example, if your goal is to lower cholesterol, any form of chia will be useful, but if your cholesterol levels are high, you should pick pure omega-3 and 6 capsules or oil. Meanwhile, if you are hoping to lose weight, whole or powdered seeds may be better for you.
Ease of Consumption
Capsules can be taken with you anywhere and are easy to take. Some people find the oil to be very easy to consume as well. It all comes down to what you prefer.
Chia seeds have a very subtle flavor that is most noticeable when consumed in its whole form. In powdered form, chia can have a slightly bitter taste, but when dissolved in drinks or other liquids, it’s barely noticeable.
The oil is very easy to consume, and capsules have a neutral flavor.
If you have celiac disease or another gluten intolerance, it’s important to get chia powder that has been pre-packaged, rather than in bulk form, as it can sometimes become contaminated with traces of gluten. Regardless of whether you buy seeds, powder, capsules or oil, be sure to check the label for the seal that guarantees an item is gluten-free.
As this guide has shown, chia is much more than just a superfood that lowers cholesterol and promotes heart health. It is one of the most beneficial supplements around and almost anyone can benefit from it in one way or another.
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(Source of the feature image: Frey: 29617462/ 123rf.com)