You cannot open a health and fitness magazine at the moment without seeing at least one article of advert for chia seeds. It seems that everybody is talking about them, celebs are apparently guzzling them down, and people all over the world are claiming that they are fitter, slimmer and feeling better than ever for eating them. So, what are they, and do they work?
What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds come from a plant from Mexico that flourishes in arid conditions. According to the archaeological record, the desert plant Salvia hispanica has been cultivated in for thousands of years in central America – it was used by the Mayans and Aztecs.
Chia means strength, and it is thought that the Mayans and Aztecs ate chia seeds to help boost energy. Science backs this idea up, as the seeds a packed with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, antioxidants and also calcium, which is good for our bones and muscle development.
Chia seeds are totally natural and do not require any processing – you can eat them raw. One ounce of seeds (2 tablespoons) gives us about 140 Calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbs and 11 grams of fiber. They also contain various vitamins and minerals.
Chia seeds have a mild, nutty taste and work well in a variety of foods and smoothies. They can be added to cereals, sauces, vegetable dishes and rice. They can also be added to baked foods, or even mixed with water to form a fiber gel.
Chia and the Weight Loss
All that the above shows us is that chia seeds are healthy. But, can they help us lose weight?
There really has not been very much scientific research into chia seeds and weight loss, and the one study that we could find was far from conclusive. In fact, the researchers stated that eating chia seeds had no effect on weight loss: “Our study showed no reduction in body weight, body fat and no improvement in traditional cardiovascular markers from 50 grams of chia per day.” David Nieman, DrPH, Appalachian State University, USA.
So, once again, chia seeds appear to largely be another fad that is based on no evidence whatsoever. Just like the many super foods that have come before them, chia seeds are indeed healthy and are safe to eat as part of a balanced diet, but they will not magically make your fat disappear!