Chia Seed health benefit by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
October 20 2014

Chia (Salvia hispanica) is a summer plant belonging to the mint family originally from South America. Growers now have available organic chia seed. These seeds provide a source of the n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. Chia seeds are can be added to bread and other baked goods.

Chia seed has omega-3 fatty acids
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. 200.  Ayerza R Jr, Coates W. Office of Arid Lands Studies, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85637, USA.
To determine if 18:3n-3 fatty acids positively influence plasma composition, 32 male Wistar rats were fed ad libitum four isocaloric diets with the energy derived from corn oil (T(1)), whole chia seed (T(2)), ground chia seed (T(3)), or chia oil (T(4)) for 30 days. At the end of the feeding period the rats were sacrificed, and blood samples were analyzed to determine serum CHOL, HDL, LDL, TG content, hemogram, and fatty acid composition. Chia decreased serum TG content and increased HDL content. Only with the T(2) diet was TG significantly lower, and only with the T(3) diet was HDL significantly higher, than the control diet. Chia significantly increased the 18:3n-3, 20:5n-3 and 22:6n-3 plasma contents compared to the control diet, with no significant difference among chia diets detected. Significant improvement in n-6/n-3 fatty acid ratio was observed for all chia diets when compared to the control.

Safety, caution
Despite potential health benefits, chia seeds may pose a risk if they are not consumed properly. The tiny, oval seeds -- a rich source of fiber, protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids -- should not be eaten in their dry, raw form, particularly by people with a history of swallowing problems or a constricted esophagus. Chia seeds have the ability to absorb up to 25 times their weight in water. Those with a history of swallowing problems or known esophageal strictures should be cautioned that chia seeds should only be consumed when they have had the ability to fully expand in liquid prior to ingestion. American College of Gastroenterology, news release, Oct. 20, 2014.

Q. I received an email about "Chia Oil" and they said it is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.
   A. I have not studied chia oil enough to know for sure what percentage of its content is omega-3.

Emails
Q. Have you done a comparison between chia seeds and flaxseeds? I have just heard of the chia seed. I am a long time user of fresh ground flax seed, but if chia is easier to store, digest etc and is more beneficial than flax seed maybe I should make the switch.
   A. Is an orange healthier than an apple? They both are a good addition to the diet. One option is to use a little bit of both since each seed will provide a different set of nutrients the body can use.

Q. What is the story about Salba grain? I've read that a Toronto-based firm claims to have developed the richest whole food source of omega-3 in the world. I read that Salba Research & Development's proprietary, eponymous product is derived from a variety of mint called Chia.  Apparently Larry Brown, president of Salvia company, says "It is the richest whole food source of omega-3 in the world. Two tablespoons of Salba gives you 3.0 mg of omega-3 and 5 mg of dietary fiber. It contains six times more calcium than milk."
   A. Salba appears to be a proprietary name for a chia seed product. Salba (Salvia hispanica L.). The only study we could find is below.

Supplementation of Conventional Therapy with the Novel Grain Salba (Salvia hispanica L.) Improves Major and Diabetes Care. 2007 Aug 8; Emerging Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Vuksan V, Whitham D, Sievenpiper JL, Jenkins AL, Rogovik AL, Bazinet RP, Vidgen E, Hanna A. Risk Factor Modification Centre, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada.
Using a single-blind, crossover design, subjects were randomly assigned to receive either 37+/-4 g/day of Salba or wheat bran for 12 weeks while maintained on their conventional diabetes therapies. Compared to control, Salba reduced systolic blood pressure by 6 mmHg, hs-CRP (mg/L) by 40%, and vonWillebrand factor by 21%, with significant decreases in A1C and fibrinogen in relation to the Salba baseline but not with control. There were no changes in safety parameters including liver, kidney and haemostatic function or body weight. Both plasma ALA and EPA PUFA levels were increased two-fold while consuming Salba. Conclusions: Long-term supplementation with Salba attenuated a major cardiovascular risk factor and emerging factors (hs-CRP and vWF) safely beyond conventional therapy, while maintaining good glycemic and lipid control in people with well-controlled type 2 diabetes.

Q. i have been eating and drinking Chia for a while now. I left a bottle of chia in water out the other day and kept it out for a few days.. It developed a really bad smell, and developed some white moss or mist in the water. Do you know what this is called?
   A. My guess is that a fungus starting growing on the chia. What do you mean by a chia drink?
      Q. To make a chia drink, you just put chia seeds in water and after 3 minutes you can drink it, once it absorbs the water. I made a few tests, and everytime i left it out in a bottle for a few days, it would begin to ferment, or grow fungus.. i was just wondering how because chia seeds have a ton of antioxidants which should prevent this from occurring.
         A. Many herbs, seeds, plants, fruits and vegetables have antioxidants and antifungal substances, but they cannot prevent all types of fungi, molds, or other organisms from growing on them. It is a constant battle in nature with plants trying to prevent being consumed and organisms trying to consume them.

Q. My husband currently is taking Lisinopril HCTZ 40mg daily for high blood pressure. He started taking chia (salba) seed yesterday, which I've heard lowers blood pressure. My question is: By taking both his meds and the chia seeds cause a dangerous drop in his blood pressure?
   A. I am not aware of chia seeds causing a significant drop in blood pressure.

Chia seed suppliers - press releases
December 2008 - AHD International, a distributor of nutraceutical and functional food ingredients, is expanding its line of Chia offerings to include Chia Meal, Chia Oil and Chia Powder. The exclusive North American distribution deal with specialized grower The Chia Company will allow AHD to provide a wide range of Chia offerings to nutritional supplement manufacturers, functional food makers and grocery outlets. "With the addition of these three new sources to obtain Chia's studied EFA, antioxidant and dietary fiber health benefits, AHD can provide our manufacturers with even more ways to incorporate Chia into supplements, baked goods, nutrition bars, cereals, soups, seasonings, dressings and beverages," said John Alkire, president of AHD International. "As a company committed to providing high-quality, healthful, innovative ingredients, we have found an equal in The Chia Company's products and look forward to providing our customers with this variety of unique offerings." Chia seeds are a gluten-free, vegetarian wholefood naturally rich in omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants, calcium, protein, amino acids, as well as a comprehensive range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Unlike grains such as flaxseed, they are highly stable due to their antioxidant content, offering manufacturers an ingredient that not only delivers superior nutritional properties, but also won't compromise the shelf life of finished goods. A product of the Chia mint plant otherwise known as Salvia hispanica, Chia seeds are an ancient American grain used for centuries in food, beverages and medicines.
   The Chia Company is a private, wholly owned and operated Western Australian company owned and managed by Australian farmers whose origins and expertise stem from farming in growing grains and seeds for use as food ingredients. The Chia Company is a Chia producer, growing all of its own Chia under irrigation from the Ord River in the remote Kimberley region of Australia.

April 2009 - Benexia Chia Seed has received Novel Food status in the EU for use in bread application, according to Dean Mosca, president of Proprietary Nutritionals, Inc., exclusive marketer of Benexia Chia Seed. “Plans are now underway to expand the applications permitted as well as the Chia products that can be used. Currently the only Chia seed permissible for sale in the EU, Benexia seed will stay in the forefront of approved applications and types of Chia products that can be sold.” The dossier was introduced in 2006 by the Columbus Paradigm Institute S.A. in collaboration with a Chilean company, Functional Products Trading S.A., which grows and commercializes Benexia Chia Seed. Cultivated by the ancient Aztecs as a high-energy, endurance food, Chia is one of the richest plant sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to promote cardiovascular health. It also contains high levels of fibre, easy-to-digest protein, amino acids, vitamins, calcium and other minerals. Plus, it offers outstanding antioxidant value – Chia has a higher ORAC value than fresh blueberries. Benexia is available as flour (defatted bran), oil, water-soluble Omega-3 microencapsulated powder or as bulk, sprouted or milled seed, to meet the needs of the food and nutraceuticals industry. Adding Benexia Chia to food or beverages gives them a good nutritional profile without compromising taste. It incorporates easily into a variety of foods, including baked goods, snacks, bars and drink mixes. Chia Seed has been rediscovered through a project sponsored by public and private U.S. and Argentinean organizations, intended to identify and produce alternative crops at an industrial scale to improve the economy for farmers in the Argentinean Northwestern region.
The project commenced in 1991; the Chia seed was chosen because of its exceptional nutritional properties. After more than 15 years of careful seed selection, Benexia gathers today these farmers in the world's largest and most effective Chia organization, with unlimited production-expansion capacity anchored by considerable expertise. Proprietary Nutritionals, Inc., a subsidiary of Pharmachem Laboratories, Inc., is located in Kearny, NJ. PNI markets a variety of patented, scientifically proven, branded ingredients to the nutrition industry, including Celadrin Joint Flexibility & Relief, Perluxan, a hops extract, Sytrinol Healthy Heart, and the Berry-Max line of potent berry concentrates, including Cran-Max, Blue-Max, Bil-Max, Elder-Max, Cherry-Max, and Pom-Max.

Product pills
The ancient chia seed was a primary food of the Aztec civilization, and can be considered a superfood due to its many nutritional benefits. Source Naturals now introduces the magic of Chia in 1,000 mg softgels. Omega Chia Oil High-Density Vegan Omega-3• Highest known plant source of omega-3s• Anti-inflammatory• Nutrient dense. Chia is the highest known plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and supplies ALA, which when, consumed can convert to EPA and DHA in the body. Source Naturals introduces Omega Chia Oil, which supports brain function, the circulatory system and a healthy inflammatory response. OmegaChia Oil abundantly supplies the ALA necessary for EPA and DHA conversion.

Hidalgo Foods
Hello, I am from Hidalgo Foods and wanted to let you know our prices:
Black chia seeds, 55 lb sacks - $4.30/lb
White chia seeds, 55 lb sacks - $4.80/lb