Chia seeds are a nutritional superfood derived from a plant named Salvia hispanica and are also delicious to eat. It can be used in different forms in different kinds of recipes like pancakes, smoothies, pudding and parfaits. Chia seeds have the ability to turn gelatinous and absorb liquid which makes it a thickening agent and a great source of nutrition for vegans, a perfect substitute for eggs in bakery items.
Undoubtedly, chia seeds have got many health benefits but like anything else, excess intake of chia seeds can cause problems. In this blog, we have discussed some of the major side effects of chia seeds and a comparison between chia seeds and hemp seeds.
Major Side Effects of Chia Seeds
Eating a lot of chia seeds can result in digestive issues
Being a good source of fiber, chia seeds are helpful in promoting regularity and boosting beneficial bacteria in your body. However, excess fiber can be a problem for some people such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, gas and constipation. High fiber intake can also be a reason behind Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis which further causes inflammation and narrower gastrointestinal tract. These chronic diseases are the cause of weight loss, abdominal pain and bleeding.
So, keeping the intake of chia seeds in limit is important for people with inflammatory bowel diseases. You should also increase water intake along with having a high amount of fiber in the form of chia seeds.
Chia seeds can be a factor of choking risk
Though not for most people, chia seeds can create a choking risk. So, if you find it difficult to swallow, be careful while eating chia seeds. You can have it by baking or cooking but having a glass of water over a full tablespoon of dry chia seed is found to be dangerous in a study. It can swell in the esophagus and result in blockage.
Make sure to soak chia seeds for a minimum of 5-10 minutes to make the process of swallowing easier.
The ALA intake from chia seeds can result in prostate cancer
As we know there’s a good amount of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) in chia seeds, it can cause health risks along with improving heart health and cognitive function. A relation between the omega-3 fatty acid element ALA and prostate cancer has been inferred in some studies which state that ALA intake can increase the risk of prostate cancer (advanced stage).
However, different studies have concluded different results which make it conflicting. More substance and research is required to get to a strong conclusion when it comes to measuring the risk of prostate cancer due to high intake of ALA in chia seeds.
Chia seeds can be allergic for some people
Though not very common, chia seeds can also cause allergies in some people like itching of the tongue or lips, vomiting or diarrhea.
Food allergies are also a reason for breathing problems, tightness in the chest or throat. The condition is named anaphylaxis. In a few studies, it has been found that chia seeds can cause shortness of breath, dizziness, swelling and hives.
If you are trying chia seeds for the first time, consult your doctor on any such food allergy symptoms.
Too must intake of chia seeds can disturb some medications
People who are on blood pressure or blood sugar medications need to control chia seeds intake as it can interact with the effects of the medications.
As it is known that eating chia seeds can decrease the blood sugar levels, excess of it can disturb the dosage of your diabetes medication. Doctors personalize the insulin dosages for people who eat chia seeds to balance the effects of the medication and prevent spikes and dips in blood sugar.
Blood pressure medications
Chia seeds are found effective in lowering blood pressure. People who are on blood pressure medication are suggested to have moderate amount of chia seeds to prevent low blood pressure or hypotension.
Now that you know why chia seeds are bad for you, we would like to suggest you to moderate the intake and enjoy the benefits rather than being a victim of its side effects.
Let us move to the next part – comparison of two important superfoods, chia seeds and hemp seeds. Below is a complete description of how both the seeds help to improve your health conditions.
Chia Seeds Vs Hemp Seeds
In the last few years, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseeds have grown to be a popular food product in supermarkets for their incredible health benefits. You can check out the comparison of chia seeds Vs flaxseeds here.
For now, let’s focus on chia seeds and hemp seeds. Read on to know which is better for you!
Hemp hearts came from the industrial hemp found as a strain in the cannabis plant. It has got an intriguing story of its existence in Canadian history.
Health benefits of Hemp’s hearts
Hemp hearts are high in protein with an amount of 7gms protein in 2 tablespoons. It also has important amino acids which makes it a source of plant-based complete proteins.
One tablespoon of hemp hearts consists of 0-2gms of omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp hearts maintain a balance of both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of 3:1 which is a great source for vegetarians and vegans. A complete balance of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is important to ensure the maximum benefits of omega-3s.
Omega-6 fatty acids
The omega-6 fatty acid content in the total fatty acid content of hemp is around 2% to 5%. An omega-6 fatty acid is GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid) that plays an important role in balancing the inflammatory conditions. It is found in less variety of foods such as black currant seed oil, borage seed oil, evening primrose seed oil and hemp seeds.
This is not all, hemp seeds also contain a few more nutrients such as phytochemicals and minerals like zinc and magnesium. Even though hemp hearts are not supported by strong clinical research for health claims but it surely has a good composition of nutrients as compared to other seeds and nuts.
A Brief of the health benefits of hemp hearts
- Consists of high-quality protein and important amino acids
- Offers 7gms of protein with every 2 tablespoon serving
- An omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 3:1
- Has omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)
- Consists of various other nutrients like phytochemicals, zinc and magnesium
Sustainability in the environment
Hemp has the ability to grow in different soil types and climatic conditions which reduces the requirement of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. This also indicates that hemp needs less water compared to other crops.
It’s level of versatility
Hemp is not just good as a healthy food but can also be replaced with cotton in clothing and tress in papermaking. It can also be used as biofuel. These days, a lot of products are made using hemp such as carpets, diapers, shoes, nets and cosmetics.
People who are suggested to eat hemp hearts
People who want a good source of protein can add hemp in their smoothies. Add 3tbspns of hemp hearts in your smoothie to get proteins equal to two eggs. You can also add it in yogurt, sandwiches, lasagna, oatmeal, salads, baked food items, cereals, stir-fries and ice cream.
Chia seeds have a long history with its origin in Guatemala and Mexico. Earlier in Mexico, chia seeds were eaten as a food grounded into the floor while making tamales, tortillas and different kinds of Aztec beverages. The beverages were named chianatoles. Chia drinks are still in a fashion referred to as agua de chia or chia fresco (chia seeds mixed with sugar, lemon or fruit juice).
Chia seeds are also used in pudding, smoothies and also in gluten-free seed crackers.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Omega-3 fatty acids
As compared to flaxseeds, chia seeds stand second in omega-3 fatty acid content. To the 2.4gms per tablespoon content in flax seeds, chia seeds have 1.9gms per tablespoon omega-3.
Vitamins and minerals
Chia seeds are high in vitamins and minerals. 2tblspns of chia seeds contains 142 milligrams of calcium and 3.3 milligrams of iron. It is considered to be a good source of trace minerals, plant protein, vitamins, important fatty acids and phytochemicals.
Like many other seeds, chia seeds have an excellent content of fiber – 8gms per 2tblspns. IN research, chia seeds have been proved to lower systolic blood pressure and a good marker of platelet aggregation. Not just this, it also helps to reduce cardiovascular risk factors and boosts glycemic control in the human body.
A brief of health benefits of chia seeds
- Chia seeds contain 1.9gms per tablespoon omega-3 fatty acids which is second to flaxseeds.
- Chia seeds contain 142 milligrams of calcium per 2 tablespoons.
- Chia seeds are an excellent source of iron – 3.3 milligrams per 2 tablespoons.
- Chia seeds are a good source of soluble fiber that maintains blood sugar levels.
Chia seeds are mostly grown in Mexico, Australia and various countries of South and Central America. It is grown in its native habitat traditionally without using pesticides.
People who should eat chia seeds
Most people see the positive effects of having chia seeds included in their healthy diet. Having high levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, clinical research shows chia seeds are beneficial for humans. You can include chia seeds in your dairy-free diet as it is high in calcium. S if you are a vegan, chia seed is an essential component of your daily balanced diet.
The only downside of chia seeds is its price. If the budget is an important factor for you, you can look for some alternative seeds. However, be careful with the above mentioned side effects of chia seeds. Consult your doctor before including it in your diet and keep your regular medications in mind.