Chia seeds for heart health

Chia seeds are proof that dynamite comes in small packages. These little black seeds are packed with health-giving nutrients. We dug a little deeper to tell you about these amazing seeds and the research backing their health benefits.

But, before we get into this, remember that not all seeds are created equal!

The quality of a chia seed depends on how it was grown. The plant does not need to be treated with pesticides, because insects naturally dislike chia and the seeds should be raw and not processed. It should not be exposed to high heat, to ensure that the natural benefits are preserved and it must be non-GMO. (7) Montagu pride ourselves on ethical production and transparency – assuring our consumers that they can trust us with providing delicious snacks that are responsibly-sourced.

‘DEM BONES

Chia seeds are probably one of the best add-ons to your diet when it comes to bone health. It includes calcium, phosphorus, protein and manganese. A winner combo to support bone health and a great “go-to” for people who don’t eat dairy.

BLOOD SUGAR

A few studies (1) have shown that eating chia seeds lowers the post-meal rise in blood sugar. This shows that chia seeds may improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control and assist in stabilizing the blood sugar levels after meals.

BRING ON THE OMEGA

Omega-3 is very important for your body, but it can’t be produced by your body. Omega-3 deficiency is associated with depression, heart disease and many other health problems. (4)(5)

So, there are about 11 types of Omega-3, of which ALA, EPA and DHA are the most important. Chia seeds are very high in the Omega-3 fatty acid ALA. Whereas EPA and DHA can be found in animal foods like fish. ALA needs to be converted to EPA or DHA to be useful for anything other than energy. (6)

DID YOU SAY WEIGHT LOSS?

Many health experts believe that chia seeds can be a useful addition to a weight loss diet. Apart from the high-quality protein in the seeds that lowers appetite, Chia seeds are also very high in soluble fiber. This soluble fiber feeds good bacteria in your gut and gives you a sense of satiety because it expands in the stomach.  

On that note… remind yourself that you only need a teaspoonful. More than that might have you spending the rest of your day on the ivory seat.

NOW THE BIG QUESTION… DOES CHIA SEEDS HAVE AN EFFECT ON MY HEART?

Great question. Several studies (2) have been conducted to determine the effect of chia seeds on heart health. Although several were inconclusive, a few have shown a significant influence on reducing blood pressure in people with hypertension, which is a massive risk factor for heart disease. 

Although Chia seeds have many benefits, one cannot assume that it will benefit heart health on its own unless accompanied by other beneficial lifestyle and dietary changes.  (3)(4)

EAT YOUR HEART OUT

Ever heard of the term cardiac diet? It emphasizes foods such as veggies, whole grains fish that is high in Omega-3. Here are a few tips from an article on Medical News Today (8) on how to eat for a healthier heart:
  1. Remember to ‘eat the rainbow’. Include 2.5 cups of different coloured fruit and non-starchy vegetables per day
  2. Eat 2 servings of omega-3 fatty fish per week. Children and pregnant ladies should avoid eating larger fish as it might be high in mercury. 
  3. Eat whole grains as it might help against cardiovascular disease.
  4. Nuts, seeds and legumes in accordance with your daily calorie intake. Walnuts, brazil nuts, pecans and cashews. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax, hemp and chia seeds. Lentils, black beans, kidney beans 
  5. Limit dairy, red meat and alcohol
  6. Avoid sugar, processed foods, salt and refined carbohydrates
You can also combine your healthy eating habits with a healthy lifestyle by following these easy tips:
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid long periods of sitting
  • Plan grocery shopping
  • Be mindful of portion sizes

SO HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE CHIA INTO YOUR DIET?

Chia Seeds are so versatile, due to the soluble fibre, it takes on a gel texture when it gets soaked. It has a very bland taste, so you can really add this to any anything without having an odd taste to work with.

Here are a few ideas:
  • Soak them in juice
  • Add to cereal or yoghurt
  • They can be used as an egg substitute in recipes
  • It can be used to thicken sauce
  • Add them to delicious smoothies

Sources:

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