Posts Tagged omega-3

Chia Seeds

 

 

I don’t know when you were born so if you are younger than me (born 1984) I have no idea when this commercial started to become UNPOPULAR. Every one of my friends I am sure can sing to the tune of the chia pet commercial (ch-ch-ch-chia) from when we were kids. If you haven’t heard of Chia Pets here is the original commercial.

 

OKAY… I stand corrected. This product is actually still out?! Before I get into any serious discussion I am sure you will get a laugh out of the latest chia pet:

 

Now down to business! As I already stated I feel Chia is already known to the general public. In my mind when the word “Chia” comes up, everyone should think of those grass pets you put in your house. Recently however I have discovered they have a different application. Chia is actually sold as a health product! These are the exact same seeds!

 

As I mentioned in my GOMAD post I started to read a book called The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. In this book there is a chapter on increasing testosterone levels. I am not getting into this topic but I will tell you part of it was consuming chia seeds. I thought to myself  “this can’t be the same product from when I was a kid… those stupid grass animals?” ( I say stupid but clearly if the business is still up and running today I guess it was a brilliant idea). A few weeks later I walk into a local health food store and guess what… CHIA SEEDS are the product of the month! Then another week goes by and I get an e-mail from my friend David Seal asking me to follow a link he had found: http://holycrap.ca/.

 

The link follows you to a website that sells a breakfast cereal who’s key ingredient is CHIA. On this site they boast about how good chia is good for you and it makes multiple health claims.

Now I was just going around on the internet and I found this website http://getchia.com/ which makes the following claims about their Chia product:

  • Contain the highest plant source of Omega-3 on the planet!
  • FDA Approved.
  • Heart Health
  • Mental Health
  • Digestive Health
  • Great for Diabetics
  • Effective for Treating Hypoglycemia.
  • Chia Seeds contain more Antioxidants than blueberries.
  • Chia Seeds are a complete protein with all 9 amino-acids.
  • Chia Seeds are an excellent source of Calcium, Magnesium & Iron.
  • Chia Seeds are 100% natural and raw.
  • Our Chia Seed is Certified Kosher, NON-GMO & GLUTEN-FREE.
  • Chia Seeds are an effective aid to healthy weight loss.  The fiber rich chia seeds and slowly metabolized carbs can help to curb the appetite and has been shown to help lose weight when included with a balanced and healthy diet.

Now that is an impressive resume for a food product! The question is…. is it all true? Lets go over some of the claims.

 

Contain the highest plant source of Omega-3 on the planet!

 

I myself have heard more about flax seed and I think it is a much more popular health food product than chia. the reason I want to make the comparison is that when someone talks about high sources of omega-3 fatty acids I have always thought of flax. Lets compare the omega-3 content with this product…

 

For this info I used two different sites:

1. Nutrition Data

2. The USDA (Unites States department of Agriculture) nutrient Data Laboratory

 

(per 100g) Nutrition Data USDA
Chia Omega 3 17 552mg 17 550mg
Flax Omega 3 22 813mg 22 813mg

 

So right off the bat Chia loses in this claim.

Now flax seeds came to my mind but if you are out there and reading this and know of a food product that contains more Omega-3 fatty acids make a comment underneath and I promise to make a future post correcting myself.

I also went to a health food store and could not find a chia seed packaged or in bulk to buy that outweighed flax in omega-3 fatty acids in any form.

 

 

Heart Health

 

Look at this one systematic review:

Side note: In really simplistic terms a systematic review is where someone goes out and looks at all the research on one topic and combines it to make a decision. I guess someone did the work for me already! :)

 

CONCLUSION: There is limited evidence supporting the efficacy of Salvia hispanica for any indication; thus far, only two clinical studies have examined the effects of Salvia hispanica on cardiovascular disease risk factors (including body weight). However, the historical use of Salvia hispanica suggests that it is safe for consumption by nonallergic individuals.

 

I couldn’t get access to the full article so I am not sure if they included this reference as I did find one study that showed it did improve cardiovascular risk factors but this was in a specific population group. This is for people with type 2 diabetes:

Something I do want to mention if you didn’t read the full abstracts is that these studies reviewed were all performed on HUMANS. I did find the following studies showing they did help but they were in rats.

The systematic review states it has the potential to help. It did help in rats so is there a missing link that is making it not work (besides we are humans and we are rats)? Something interesting is none of these studies (humans or rats) had exercise incorporated! Could Chia help then?

 

Great for Diabetics

 

The study above already mentioned this

Dietary interventions have been attempted to lower the risk of obesity, diabetes and CVD by the reduction of postprandial hyperglycemia and prevention of excess caloric intake. Evidence suggests an independent predictive role of postprandial glycemia for CVD. Furthermore, due to the possible role of obesity in the development of CVD and T2D, research has focused on appetite suppression to reduce excessive food intake. Here we investigate the ability of the novel oil-rich grain Salvia hispanica L. (Salba) to lower postprandial glycemia and reduce appetite when added to a carbohydrate meal. In our first study, we investigated the effects of Salba in escalating doses on both parameters in healthy individuals. In our second study we compared the effectiveness of ground and whole forms of Salba on the same parameters. Results confirmed our hypotheses, as Salba given in either form positively affected postprandial glycemia and mildly suppressed appetite.

 

Effective for Treating Hypoglycemia

If it is going to help with diabetes then my assumption is it should help avoid hypoglycemia (in reference to Supplementation of conventional therapy with the novel grain Salba (Salvia hispanica L.) improves major and emerging cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: results of a randomized controlled trial.). Don’t quote me on that, but it seems to make sense.

-The other study above spoke about controlling spikes in glucose after meals.

Is a complete source of Protein with all 9 amino acids

To see the definition of a complete source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complete_protein of protein click on the link which will also bring you to this table below. This table below shows all the essential amino acids. From reading the link it states it is essential to have the following proportions to have a complete protein:

 

Essential Amino Acid mg/g of Protein
Tryptophan 7
Threonine 27
Isoleucine 25
Leucine 55
Lysine 51
Methionine+Cystine 25
Phenylalanine+Tyrosine 47
Valine 32
Histidine 18

 

Now here is the breakdown for Chia and take note of Lysine specifically (nutrition facts and USDA had the same info):

To do the math for you this table is expressed in “value” per 100g. If you want to make the comparison 917mg/100g = 9.17mg/1g. Therefore being too low when comparing to the table above.

 

To further prove my point here is a list of articles also showing that Chia is lacking lysine plus other essential amino acids:

  • The Nutritional and Chemical Evaluation of Chia seeds Authors: Charles W. Webera; Howard S. Gentrya; Edwin A. Kohlheppa; Peter R. McCrohanb. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, Volume 26, Issue 2 September 1991.
  • Thermal and physicochemical properties and nutritional value of the protein fraction of Mexican chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) Olivos-Lugo BL, Valdivia-López MÁ, Tecante A. Food Sci Technol Int. 2010 Feb;16(1):89-96. Epub 2010 Feb 5.
  • Protein Digestibility of Chia Seed Salvia hispanica L Rebeca Monroy-Torres, Maria Lourdes Mancilla-Escobar, Juan Carlos Gallaga-Solórzano*, Sergio Medina-Godoy**, Enrique Javier Santiago-García*. Volumen 9 No.1 Enero-Marzo 2008.

 

Chia Seeds are an excellent source of Calcium, Magnesium & Iron

I am having troubles finding reliable sources and consistent numbers when it comes to this. I apologize. If you are reading this please contact me if you know the content of this from a reliable source.

 

 

I think that addresses some of the major claims. Overall I think it is a safe product if you are considering to go out and try it.

I want to thank my friend Mariane Heroux who helped me out by directing me to the USDA National Nutrient Database. She is in the process of completing her PhD in Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University. She also has her own website Activize Nutrition Services (www.activizens.com) where she offers her services as a nutritionist,  previews a cookbook she wrote, and discusses nutrition in her own blog.

 

-NJF

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