Are Chia Seeds Healthy? The most important questions and answers

Sind Chia Samen gesund? Die wichtigsten Fragen und Antworten

Chia seeds are among the new health favourites. Chia seeds are always mentioned when people talk about healthy eating. The seeds are said to be real miracle cures.

They are always associated with a healthy diet. Chia seeds are used in many recipes that promise a healthy and balanced diet. But how healthy are chia seeds really? What nutrients are in the little miraculous seeds and what are they good for?

We looked at how healthy chia seeds actually are. It explains what a healthy diet really needs. We show where chia seeds come from, what their nutrients are and what they are good for. We also looked at the effects of chia seeds and showed whether improper consumption can lead to side effects. Finally, we will introduce you to some healthy alternatives to chia seeds.

the essentials in brief

  • Chia seeds are the seeds of a mint family that are mainly grown in South America. There has been a veritable chia boom for several years. The seeds are said to have many positive properties and health-promoting properties.
  • Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, fiber and minerals. The various substances have positive effects on the human body. Chia seeds also help counteract some diseases.
  • Despite the many positive properties of chia seeds, domestic alternatives should also be considered from an ecological point of view. Foods such as flaxseed, fish or canola oil also have many beneficial nutrients.

Are chia seeds healthy?: What you should know

In the following paragraphs we answer all questions about chia seeds. Among other things, we will go into the nutrients, consumption and health of chia seeds for your body.

What is a healthy diet?

A healthy lifestyle includes a balanced diet. Proper nutrition promotes a person's physical and mental health.(1) A healthy diet provides the body with nutrients and energy. The body needs this to be able to carry out all necessary functions.(2)

A balanced diet contributes to a healthy lifestyle.

The recommended consumption of food is often shown using a food pyramid. The pyramid shows which types of foods should make up the majority of your diet and which types you should eat in small amounts.

Drinks make up most of the diet. It is mainly advised to take in liquids through water. Vegetables and fruit follow in second place. You should eat five servings of vegetables and fruit daily. Grain products occupy the third largest position in the pyramid. These should be taken several times a day. This is followed by fish, meat, egg and dairy products. At the top of the pyramid, and therefore the lowest part of the diet, are fats and sweets.(3)

In addition to the recommendations shown in the pyramid, predominantly herbal products should be chosen. Sugar and salt should be avoided as far as possible and care should be taken to prepare food gently. In addition, daily exercise is important to promote health and counteract diseases.(4)

What are chia seeds?

Chia seeds are part of the Salvia hispanica L. The plant belongs to the mint family and is mainly cultivated in South America. The seeds are available whole or ground, raw or dried. There are also chia seeds processed into oil.(5,6)

Chia seeds are often eaten raw. They are often added to muesli, yoghurt or ice cream. Ground chia seeds are often used for pasta such as bread or rolls. Mixed with water or milk, chia seeds make a popular porridge.(5)

What is the nutritional value of chia seeds, what makes them so healthy?

Chia seeds are considered to be particularly healthy. But what is really in the popular seeds? The seeds are rich in minerals and fiber, proteins and fatty acids. 100g chia seeds contain about 30g fiber. In this proportion, chia seeds outperform grains, nuts and dried fruits.(6)

Chia seeds have many nutrients that perform important functions in the body.

Chia seeds also contain a high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids. These are essential for our body. Almost 30% of seeds are fat. Chia seeds also contain valuable omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect and have a positive effect on our blood.(7)

Chia seeds

Chia seeds have many important nutrients that are beneficial to health. (Image source: ValeriaLu / pixabay)

Chia seeds are rich in calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium . Chia seeds also contain some vitamins. Vitamin B1 and B2 are found in particularly large amounts. Compared to other foods, the minerals mentioned are relatively high.(8)

How healthy are chia seeds really, what effects do they have?

The antioxidants in chia seeds scavenge free radicals in the body. The intermediate product of metabolism is very aggressive and can damage cells in the body. Antioxidants help prevent this cell damage and thus counteract chronic diseases.(8)

Chia seeds can also have a blood pressure-lowering effect on the body. Studies have shown that a daily intake of chia seeds reduces blood pressure in hypertensive adults. The test subjects consumed chia flour daily for three months. The blood pressure-lowering effect is due to the high proportion of omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds.(9)

The many other nutrients also have a health-promoting effect on your body. The mix of several very important nutrients that chia seeds contain is not often found in a single food. This is one of the reasons why chia seeds are so popular.

What are chia seeds good for?

Chia seeds are high in protein . With its high protein content, chia seeds outperform many grain products. Along with fats and carbohydrates, proteins are one of the three main nutrients.

Proteins , as proteins are also called, are important for the formation of bones and muscles. They are also responsible for the transport of essential substances.(7,10)

The omega-3 fatty acids contained in chia seeds promote heart health by, as already mentioned, lowering blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids also have an anti-inflammatory effect. In connection with the valuable omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are often processed into oil.(10)

Other substances such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus help strengthen the heart and transmit signals from the heart throughout the body. Phosphorus strengthens the bones and teeth of our body. Zinc , iron and copper can also be found in chia seeds. These nutrients are responsible for essential functions in the body, such as oxygen supply.(10)

What amount of chia seeds is healthy?

Chia seeds are considered very healthy. Even the Maya and Aztecs knew chia seeds as part of their diet.(11) The mainstream in Europe have only been aware of the healthy seeds for a few years. Since then, the popularity of black seeds has steadily increased.

Chia seed pudding

The consumption of chia seeds is considered harmless. However, as with all foods, the seeds should only be consumed in moderation. (Image source: Marc Mintel / unsplash)

Since the topic is still relatively unexplored, information on daily recommended amounts is very hazy. The European Food Safety Authority has adjusted the daily amount somewhat over the years. Currently, 15g of chia seeds per day is recommended in Europe. In the US, the recommended daily intake is 48g.(7)

In general, Chia Seed can be taken without hesitation. Not much is known about side effects. Our advice, like any other food, is to consume chia seeds in moderation.

What are the side effects of chia seeds?

Usually only the many positive properties of Chia seeds are in the foreground when it comes to the wondrous ones. But are there side effects when taking chia seeds? Unfortunately, there is a lack of intensive research here, which makes it difficult to make clear statements about side effects.

It is warned that chia seeds may have a blood thinning effect. In particular, people suffering from a blood clotting disorder should be careful when ingesting and using chia seeds. The blood pressure lowering effects of chia seeds can also be dangerous for people who suffer from low blood pressure.(7)

The consumption of chia seeds is generally harmless.

Chia seeds can absorb a lot of liquid. They can absorb around 27 times their own weight. Eating chia seeds raw can cause the seeds to swell in the stomach. The result can be digestive problems. You should always let chia seeds swell for a while before eating them.(9)

How can Chia seeds be prepared healthily?

There are many different ways to prepare chia seeds. In the following table we have put together some ideas for you.

type of preparation sample dishes
Whole chia seeds Chia seeds in muesli, in yoghurt or as porridge
chia flour bread, cake
chia oil can be used like other cooking oils

In the following we will go into more detail about the individual ways of preparing chia seeds.

  • Whole Chia Seeds : Chia seeds can be eaten as whole seeds. They can be mixed raw with oatmeal and fruit in milk or yogurt. However, you should make sure that the seeds are sufficiently swollen before consumption to counteract digestive problems. For a chia porridge, let the seeds swell with enough milk or other liquid.
  • Chia flour: Ground chia seeds make chia flour. Like other flour, chia flour can be used to bake bread or cakes. Other dough can also be prepared with Chia flour. The advantage of chia flour is that it is gluten-free. This property is particularly valued by people with gluten intolerance.
  • Chia Oil: Chia seeds can also be processed into oil. Chia oil can be used just like other vegetable oils. It is suitable for searing food as well as for preparing a salad dressing.(8)

What else can chia seeds be used for besides nutrition?

The positive properties of chia seeds are not only used in nutrition, but are also used elsewhere. One area where chia seeds are used is in the pharmaceutical industry.

Porridge with toppings

When taking raw chia seeds, you should note that they increase their weight many times over with liquid. (Image source: Susan Wilkinson / unsplash)

As previously mentioned, some of the nutrients in chia seeds have a positive effect on the heart and various other functions in the body. They have an anti-inflammatory effect and prevent certain diseases. The pharmaceutical industry uses these properties and uses chia oil in particular in ointments and capsules.(8,12)

Chia seeds can also be used for therapeutic purposes. The positive properties of the seeds can be used to treat various diseases. Chia seeds are used in particular for obesity and diabetes. Chia oil is mostly used in this context.(11,13)

What alternatives are there to chia seeds?

In addition to all the positive properties of chia seeds, you should think about the origin of the seeds. How ecological is the planting and transport to the supermarket shelf? We want to show you some alternatives to chia seeds that are less harmful to the environment in terms of production and purchase.

alternative the most important nutrients
linseed Omega-3 fatty acid, protein, vitamins B1, B2, B6 and E
rapeseed oil Minerals, vitamins A, E and K, phytochemicals
Fish protein, iodine, vitamins
nuts Fat, protein, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins
beans protein, vitamins, minerals

The alternatives to chia seeds mentioned are for inspiration only. The list can be further expanded.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are not only used as food. Chia seeds are also used in medicine. (Image source: u_kvsy5ovv / pixabay)

  • Flaxseed: Flaxseed contains a lot of important nutrients. The omega-3 fatty acids are involved in metabolic processes. They are rich in vitamins B1, B2, B6 and E. The vitamins are used to generate energy and also help with metabolic processes.(14,15)
  • Rapeseed Oil: The vegetable oil contains some minerals and vitamins. It has been proven that rapeseed oil can help alleviate chronic diseases that can arise from a high-fat diet.(16)
  • Fish: Fish contains a lot of iodine. Iodine takes over important metabolic processes in the body and is essential for the thyroid gland. Just like chia seeds, fish is high in protein.
  • Nuts: Like chia seeds, nuts are high in unsaturated fat, protein, fiber and minerals. These substances have many positive properties and have a health-promoting effect on the body.(17)
  • Beans: Beans are a rich source of protein, minerals and vitamins. They help to lower blood pressure and also counteract other diseases. Just like chia seeds, beans are good for your health.(18)

Conclusion

We asked ourselves whether chia seeds are really as healthy as everyone says. In fact, the seeds are rich in important nutrients. Their composition of essential unsaturated fatty acids, proteins, fiber and minerals offers the body many important substances. The nutrients have important functions in the body and can counteract diseases. Chia seeds can lower blood pressure and help with diabetes.

In addition to the many positive properties of chia seeds, you should pay attention to the right amount of daily needs in order to avoid digestive problems or intolerance. Basically, the intake of chia seeds is considered harmless. You should also ask yourself how ecological the consumption of chia seeds really is.

There are some alternative foods that are also very healthy for our bodies and come from the immediate vicinity. It should be noted that chia seeds are actually very healthy. However, the nutrients it contains can also be ingested with other foods.

Individual proofs(18)

  1. Verbanac D, MalešŽ, Barišić K. Nutrition - facts and myths. Acta Pharm. 2019 Dec 1;69(4):497-510. Source
  2. The article describes, among other things, what a balanced diet should look like. Source
  3. The food pyramid shows the breakdown of foods according to their importance. Source
  4. The German Society for Nutrition eV presents 10 rules for a wholesome diet. Source
  5. Consumer advice center article examining the effects of chia seeds. Source
  6. Kulczyński B, Kobus-Cisowska J, Taczanowski M, Kmiecik D, Gramza-Michałowska A. The Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds-Current State of Knowledge. nutrients. 2019;11(6):1242. Published 2019 May 31. Source
  7. A review of the pros and cons of chia seeds. Source
  8. Knez HrnÄŤiÄŤ M, Ivanovski M, Cor D, Knez Ĺ˝. Chia Seeds (Salvia hispanica L.): An Overview - Phytochemical Profile, Isolation Methods, and Application. Molecules. 2019;25(1):11. Published 2019 Dec 18. Source
  9. A detailed description of all the nutrients in chia seeds and their effects. Source
  10. 11 reasons why chia seeds are healthy. Source
  11. Marcinek K, Krejpcio Z. Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica): health promoting properties and therapeutic applications - a review. Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2017;68(2):123-129. Source
  12. Melo D, Machado TB, Oliveira MBPP. Chia seeds: an ancient grain trending in modern human diets. food function 2019 Jun 19;10(6):3068-3089. Source
  13. Parker J, Schellenberger AN, Roe AL, Oketch-Rabah H, CalderĂłn AI. Therapeutic Perspectives on Chia Seed and Its Oil: A Review. Planta Med. 2018 Jul;84(9-10):606-612. Source
  14. A definition about flaxseed. Presentation of their advantages and disadvantages. Source
  15. Campos JR, Severino P, Ferreira CS, Zielinska A, Santini A, Souto SB, Souto EB. Linseed Essential Oil - Source of Lipids as Active Ingredients for Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals. Curr Med Chem. 2019;26(24):4537-4558. Source
  16. Li Y, Zhang L, Xu YJ, Li J, Cao P, Liu Y. Evaluation of the functional quality of rapeseed oil obtained by different extraction processes in a Sprague-Dawley rat model. food function 2019 Oct 16;10(10):6503-6516. Source
  17. Ros E. Health benefits of nut consumption. nutrients. 2010;2(7):652-682. Source
  18. Hou D, Yousaf L, Xue Y, et al. Mung Bean (Vigna radiata L.): Bioactive Polyphenols, Polysaccharides, Peptides, and Health Benefits. nutrients. 2019;11(6):1238. Published 2019 May 31. Source
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