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Chia Seeds – Pros & Cons, Benefits & Warnings
Today I want to discuss Chia seeds. It’s one of those “health foods” that is misunderstood.
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica, which is related to the mint.
Chia seeds were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayans for thousands of years. They utilized them for their ability to provide sustainable energy. In fact, "chia" is the ancient Mayan word for "strength."
In recent modern days, the Chia Seeds are considered by many to be a “super food”. Some people even call them one of the healthiest foods on the planet.
And if you take a look at the benefits, you can see why:
Benefits & Pros of Chia Seeds
They’re very high in fiber, which is good for a healthy colon and it can keep you full for longer periods of time. This also helps with weight loss.
They high in calcium, magnesium and boron, which is important for strong bones.
When mixed with water, they form a gel that aids in digestion.
They’re high in important omega 3 fats… which I’ll discuss in further details in a minute, because it can actually be a negative aspect of this benefit, specific for chia seeds.
It’s well balanced in the macro nutrients because it contains a good ratio of fats, carbs and proteins.
It’s also good if you’re worried about blood sugar. It has a low glycemic index and load and it also contains no sugar.
… so all in all, you can see why it really is very healthy.
Cons & Warnings of Chia Seeds
So, let’s discuss some of the potential “cons” and I’ll end with a important warning.
Some people are allergic to chia seeds. Sometimes it’s subtle and other times it very evident. And I’ll tell you why this happens in a minute. But pay attention to symptoms and signs such as rashes, hives, and watery eyes. There are also those common ones which are usually related to foods in general, such as trouble in breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, and swelling of the tongue.
Another problem is stomach and gastrointestinal problems, such as gas, bloating and constipation.
Something else that most people don’t know is that Chia seeds can thin the blood and can also lower blood pressure. Which can actually be a benefit if you suffer from poor circulation and hypertension. But if you don’t, it could cause you to pass out or become fatigued.
And the biggest problem I’ve realized is that despite the fact they are high in omega 3 fats, which are typically anti-inflammatory… Chia seeds actually INCREASE inflammatory markers and this because of 2 reasons.
Omega 3 fats are best consumed from fish sources – food or oil. But vegetarian sources such as seeds, like Flax or Chia, typically only contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
ALA is not as active in the body and must be converted to two other forms of omega-3 fatty acids — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — to have the same health benefits as fish omega 3’s.
Unfortunately, your body’s ability to convert ALA is limited. Only about 5% of ALA is converted to EPA, while less than 0.5% is converted to DHA. And the older we get, the worse the conversions.
Thus, just because it’s “high” in omega 3 fats, does NOT mean your body converts and utilizes it. However, if you don’t want to have any fish products, then these vegetarian sources is all you’ve got – but you’ll need a higher dosage to get the same benefits of fish oils.
Higher In Lectins
The second reason for the inflammation is because they are higher in lectins.
And lectins cause inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, decrease the immune system, exacerbate autoimmune conditions and lots of other negative things.
However, Chia seeds are not super high in lectins, it’s more of a “medium high” food. So, if you want to eat them, don’t go overboard, less is best. And it’s best to soak them in water first for an hour or two.
Thank you for watching. Please feel free to comment, like or share with your friends.
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