The significance of the chia seed as a health supplement was first recorded between the period of 1500 and 910 B.C. in Mexico and the Southwest. History tells us that the Aztec and Mayan warriors, who endured long periods without food during battle, used chia seeds as their main sustenance. The small seeds not only gave them energy to last the entire conquest, but also gave them pain relief for their wounds. The warriors also used it to stimulate saliva to avoid dehydration.

The fall of these indigenous warriors to Spaniards put a stop in the cultivation of Chia seeds. However, when modernization dawned, Chia seeds were rediscovered. Commercial production increased, and many people today use it again as a health supplement. 

ChiaCredit: Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Wikimedia Commons

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

The chia seed, which belongs to the mint family, is a super food with various nutrients packed in its tiny form. Learn the numerous health benefits of chia seeds below.

  • Supports cardiovascular health. The chia seed is known as one of the best plant sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 – essential fatty acids (EFAs) that are good for the heart. These EFAs reduce blood pressure. Since our bodies are incapable of synthesizing EFAs, it is important that we take supplements that can support our cardiovascular system.

  • Controls blood sugar level. Among the health benefits of chia seeds is its ability to slow down the rate of the digestion and assimilation of carbohydrates in our body. This in turn would help stabilize blood glucose level. In a study conducted on diabetic patients, daily intake of chia seeds led to less blood clotting and thinner blood consistency. Chia seeds have since been a recommended natural supplement to patients with diabetes.

  • Provides energy. As aforementioned, chia seeds were used to provide energy to Mayan and Aztec warriors in battle. The same health benefit holds true until today. This tiny seed contains a blend of carbohydrates, fats, protein and fiber, which is probably why the Mayans chose to name it “chia” which means “strength” in their language. Modern-day athletes take chia seeds to help them sustain energy for longer periods.

  • Has Anti-inflammatory properties. Chia seeds’ high concentration of Omega-3 also proves to be beneficial to patients of arthritis. Omega-3 lubricates joints and keeps them supple, which is why arthritis patients have less pain and inflammation when taking chia seeds. Omega-3 also has pain relieving effects when converted to prostaglandins.

  • Weight loss. EFAs found in chia seeds also boost the metabolism, making it an effective weight loss supplement. Chia seeds can also be taken as a food alternative, saving you from calories while giving you a bulk of nutrients. Many people today take chia seeds for weight loss and weight maintenance. 

Side Effects of Chia Seeds

A number of studies and personal testimonies also show certain side effects of chia seeds. Although its health benefits are clearly outstanding, chia seeds should still be taken with caution. Listed below are some known side effects of chia seeds.

  • Gastrointestinal disruptions. Because of chia’s high fiber content, which is roughly about 25%, many people may suffer from gastrointestinal disruptions after ingesting the seeds. Formation of gas and feeling bloated are the usual symptoms of this side effect.

  • Allergies. Certain compositions of chia seeds may act as allergens that can affect individuals. Chia protein is known to cause unavoidable allergic reactions; some people are not advised to take chia seeds because of this content. If you have allergic reactions to mustard and mustard seed, there is also a big chance that you are allergic to chia seeds.

  • Increases risk of prostate cancer. In a study conducted by the Netherlands’ Wageningen Centre, it was discovered that chia seeds increase chances of men having prostate cancer. More studies still have to be conducted to verify the results of this research.

  • Lowering of BP to alarming levels. Low blood patients should steer clear of chia seeds because of their capability to reduce blood pressure. Only patients with high blood pressure are recommended to take this natural supplement.