The superfoods, chia seeds, are derived from Saliva hispanica plant and are amazingly nutritious and fun to eat. But like any other thing the chia seeds side effects are pretty evident too. We guess anything you have in moderation gives you the results you always wanted. Here, we will discuss why even superfoods might not be the best for you all the time. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they’re bad for you. But certainly means that you got to know how to have them and definitely how much.
Chia seeds are commonly added in recipes like pancakes, parfaits, puddings, and more. These have a unique ability to absorb liquid and take up a gelatinous consistency. Many people use chia seeds as a thickening agent and often a great substitute for eggs for vegans, especially in baked food.
Along with their thickening property, chia seeds do have a number of health benefits due to the array of nutrients present in them. However, on one end it sure is nutritious but on the other having too much of it can be harmful too. Let us quickly go through the benefits and then move onto the chia seeds side effects to see how to prevent them.
Benefits of chia seeds
The most common reason why people consume chia seeds is that they’re nutritious. They include high amounts of protein, fiber, micronutrients, and healthy fats. Do you know that just 1 ounce or 28 gm of chia seeds can fulfill 42% of your daily amount of fiber content? It also has magnesium, phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium.
The seeds come with a rich number of antioxidants that protect our body from harmful radicals and oxidative stress. This can prevent chronic diseases and keep you healthy.
Chia seeds have a great nutrient level that makes them worthy of all your attention. According to one study, a certain diet included soy protein, nopal cactus, chia seeds, and oats. The combination was effective weight loss, inflammation, and blood triglycerides.
Chia seeds are also one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids that increase the level of good cholesterol. It also reduces blood triglycerides and inflammation. If you consume chia seeds in moderation you will not only get the best of its benefits but also prevent chia seeds side effects.
Chia seeds side effects – digestive disorder
Chia seeds are a great source of fiber and give you 11 gm of fiber from every ounce. You need a necessary amount of fiber in your body every day to promote regularity and support beneficial bacteria in the gut. But too much of fiber consumption can cause digestive issues too. You can have symptoms like constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
When you consume high fiber and pair it up with inadequate hydration, it leaves a bad effect on your digestive system. Moreover, if you have inflammatory bowel problems it can lead to critical conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Thus, you need to have fiber in moderation to prevent flare-ups. These chronic conditions can cause narrowing of your gastrointestinal tract, symptoms of which show up through bleeding, abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhea, and more.
According to studies, having the right amount of fiber can protect us from inflammatory diseases. So, if someone is experiencing a flare-up is because they had too much of fibers within a short span of time. Moreover, you need to drink a lot of water to be able to break those fibers down and make use of it. The simple step of drinking adequate water can prevent your body from going through chronic diseases from overconsumption of fiber.
Chia seeds sides effects – choking risk
Although chia seeds are safe to eat for most people, some of them can have an increased risk of choking. You have to consume them carefully, especially if you face any difficulty while swallowing.
Dry chia seeds tend to make you swell up and absorb around 10 times more of weight than what they do in liquid. If you’re having it in a smoothie or with water, you’re much safe than having them dry.
Since chia seeds have a gelling property, they are useful for you after being baked or cooked. Chia seeds can also be unsafe as they tend to swell up and can choke your throat.
One case study showed that a 39-year-old man had one tablespoon full of dry chia seeds and had a glass of water after that. The seeds expanded the esophagus and he had a blockage. He was taken to the emergency room to get the seeds removed.
You can avoid such chia seeds side effects if you soak them for around 10 minutes before eating. People who have a problem with swallowing must take more caution.
Connection of ALA and Prostate Cancer
The seeds have a high amount of ALA or alpha-linolenic acid. It is a kind of omega-3 fatty acid that is commonly found in plant foods. While omega-3 is an essential of our diet, it needs to come in moderation too. When you have the right amounts of omega-3 you can support cognitive functions and improve heart health. Moreover, ALA fatty acid is good for people who don’t eat fish as they convert into DHA and EPA in small amounts. Both of them are active forms of omega-3 fatty acids that you can also obtain from seafood.
While omega-3 is good for our bodies, there are some studies that state that ALA intake can increase the chances of prostate cancer. There was a huge observation done on 2, 88,268 men that showed a high ALA level can trigger advanced prostate cancer.
There was another study that showed that people who have high blood concentration levels are at more risk of having prostate cancer. If they consume more of omega-3 fatty acids compared to people with lower blood concentrations, they can be at risk of cancer.
There have been studies that conflict this research as well because some state that ALA can protect you from prostate cancer.
One review showed that people who consumed 1.5 gm of ALA every day had a lesser chance of prostate cancer. On the other hand, people who ate lesser than that had more chances of having it.
There was one more study that involved 8, 40,242 people and showed that ALA intake is associated with a low risk of having prostate cancer. It is essential to remember that these studies have looked through the connection of both prostate and ALA. But didn’t take into account other things that could also matter. The studies needed to examine the probable connection between these two.
Chia seeds sides effects – Allergies
Some people might have an allergic reaction to chia seeds. Although this isn’t common, it is possible. Food allergy symptoms show up as itching, diarrhea, and vomiting. Your tongue and lips are exposed to such conditions.
In some cases, food allergies can lead to anaphylaxis, which is a life-threating condition that leads to difficulty in breathing, tightness in the throat, and chest.
The allergies of chia seeds are rare and studies have been documented. There was one case where a 54-year-old man started eating chia seeds to lower the level of cholesterol. But within a few days, he started feeling dizzy and faced shortness of breath. There were also swelling and hives.
If you’ve never tried chia seeds before, you should start with a small amount. If you find yourself facing a food allergy you need to stop immediately and show a doctor.
Chia seeds and medication
In some cases, chia seeds can react with medications. If you have blood sugar problems or take medicines for blood pressure, you will have to tone down chia seed consumption. Eating too much of these seeds can react with medications, and you want to prevent at all costs. Check out the kind of medicines that can react with chia seeds:
1. Diabetes medication
There have been studies to prove that chia seeds can reduce blood sugar levels. It usually happens due to the high level of fiber content present in them. It slows down the absorption in blood and decreases blood sugar levels.
Eating a moderate level of chia seeds can help people with diabetes and keep blood sugar in check. However, dosages of insulin are carefully adjusted to prevent spikes or dips in blood sugar. If you eat too much of chia seeds, the blood sugar level that should decrease might need adjustments with diabetes medication.
2. Blood pressure medication
Chia seeds can not only lower blood sugar but also regulate blood pressure. Studies have shown that eating chia seeds for three months can reduce blood pressure levels along with symptoms of inflammation and blood sugar. This tends to happen due to the level of omega-3 fatty acids that works like blood thinners and decreases blood pressure.
There was a study conducted on 90 patients of high blood pressure. The consumption of omega-3 fatty acids for two months reduced the systolic blood pressure at an average by 22.2mm Hg and the diastolic blood pressure by 11.95mm Hg. However, the patients were also on dialysis and these results might not be applicable to general people.
People who have high blood pressure can explore the possibilities of chia seeds to reduce the condition. However, people must keep in mind that the seeds can enhance the activity of blood pressure medication and that can lead to low blood pressure or hypotension.
Less evidence of chia seeds
Although we have discussed the health benefits of chia seeds, there is less evidence that all of them actually work or are that effective. Check out the following points to understand these better:
1. Weight loss
When you consume chia seeds mixed in water, two times a day, it might or might not help you lose weight. Weight loss is a much-detailed theory that works only when you put in a lot of effort. People who are overweight or obese cannot expect chia seeds to magically shed all the weight. These are mere enhances that makes the process a little easier. When you eat mild or whole chia seeds for 10 weeks, it will not improve your blood pressure condition if you’re overweight.
2. Exercise performance
There has been research that suggests how trained athletes drank a beverage that had 50% of calories from chia seeds and 50% of Gatorade. They consumed it two days before doing their endurance exercise and their power was similar to just taking Gatorade.
3. Metabolic syndrome
Research suggestions that consuming 500 calories lesser than what you do and adding soy protein, chia, nopal, and oats to your diet can reduce weight. However, people who only reduce calorie intake showed similar results to that of following the diet and also cutting down on calories. Nonetheless, drinking chia beverage does low the triglyceride levels and enhances blood sugar compared to reduce calorie content only.
There was research that suggested applying lotion made of chia seed oil for two months could reduce an itching problem. However, it isn’t the best solution after all.
Precautions and warnings of consuming chia seeds
- Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should avoid chia seeds because of the side effects
- Blood includes different types of fat that can be cholesterol, triglycerides, or more. Some people have too much of triglycerides. Having too much of chia can make matters worse for them.
Chia seeds are definitely nutritious and give you several benefits. It is a good dietary substitute for vegans who cannot have eggs and chicken. However, you need to consume them in moderation to avoid the side effects.
The best way to do is to start with only one ounce per day. See your tolerance level before you increase the amount. You also need to have lots of water to keep yourself hydrated and make sure you soak the chia seeds before having them.
Having chia seeds in limits will help you gain benefits and prevent the side effects. But if you are allergic or not supposed to have them, avoid it at all costs. Try talking to your GP or nutritionist before adding it to your regular diet.