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Are chia seeds the magic weight loss food? The latest social media trend recommends drinking the superfood in water to prevent overeating. Chia seeds have been called a superfood in recent years. Claims abound about the health benefits of these pseudo-grains, including that they may help you lose weight.
In this article, we aim to outline the science behind this claim, provide information on the nutritious content of chia seeds. So, do chia seeds really help lose weight?
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds, also known scientifically as Salvia Hispanic, are edible seeds of a flowering plant belonging to the mint family. Chia seeds have a history that dates back several thousand years – to ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations.
When chia seeds encounter liquid, they expand and form a thick gel. Originally native to Mexico, the carbohydrate-rich seeds became popular in neighboring countries such as Peru and Guatemala.
Despite their minor popularity over the past century or so, they recently began gaining traction as a potential superfood.
Chia seeds – Nutritional Value of the modern-day superfood
Chia seeds may be small, but they’re incredibly rich in nutrients. For instance, a 1 oz serving of chia seeds contains :
- 179 mg of calcium
- 115 mg of potassium
- 95 mg of magnesium
- 19 mg of iron
Aside from these essential nutrients, chia seeds contain antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have even linked omega-3 intake to a reduced risk of depression, inflammatory bowel disease, and childhood allergies . The benefits of omega-3 have also been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Despite this, research into the health benefits of chia seeds is still in its infancy. In spite of this, some current research suggests that chia seeds may offer a number of health benefits, including:
- Reduced inflammation, possibly as a result of antioxidants
- Improved blood sugar control, which is helpful for diabetes management
- Better bowel habits and constipation relief
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced cholesterol levels
Do Chia Seeds Help You Lose Weight?
There are many claims on the internet that chia seeds can help you lose weight and curb your appetite. It is widely believed that chia seeds prevent overeating because they are rich in fiber and filling.
Around 40% of the recommended daily fiber intake can be found in two tablespoons of chia seeds. Studies indicate that fiber-rich diets promote weight loss. A 2015 study found that eating 30 grams of fiber a day helps you lose weight as much as following a more complicated diet .
Scientists have only recently begun studying the potential weight loss benefits of chia seeds. Some of these studies have shown promising results, but the data are far from conclusive.
A 12-week study conducted by researcher David Nieman, DrPH, of Appalachian State University in North Carolina concluded that 50 grams of chia per day did not result in a significant reduction in body weight, or body fat, and did not significantly improve traditional cardiovascular markers .
Hence, if they support weight loss, it is simply by preventing you from overeating, not by magically burning fat. The only controlled studies that have tested whether chia seeds can facilitate weight loss have been limited at this point.
How to include chia seeds in your diet?
Since chia seeds have almost no taste, they blend well with many recipes. It is possible to combine them with any liquid, such as juice or water. Ensure that the chia seeds have expanded before eating them. It is not recommended to eat chia seeds dry, especially if you have difficulty swallowing. Chia seeds can absorb many times their weight in water, so dry seeds can expand in the oesophagus and cause a blockage.
Here are some fun ways to make chia seeds a part of your daily life:
- Add a spoonful of chia seeds to a morning smoothie.
- Add them as a topping to your salads
- Drink it with just water – Soak one tablespoon of chia seeds in a glass of water for half an hour. You may also choose to add some honey and lemon for flavor.
- Chia seed pudding can be made by mixing the seeds with milk or yogurt and leaving it overnight to thicken. Adding honey or fresh or dried fruit can make it into a tasty breakfast.
In general, chia seeds can be easily incorporated into most foods you normally consume and can be a nutritious addition to your diet, despite little evidence of their weight loss benefits.
Consuming Chia seeds – Precautions
Chia seeds should ideally be soaked before consumption. Taking them raw or dry is not recommended because a seed or two in the throat can expand, causing a blockage preventing them from being swallowed.
By and large, chia seeds are considered safe to eat and generally do not cause side effects. In case of any allergic reaction, people with allergies to chia seeds must stop eating them immediately. Chia seeds are not recommended for people with certain medical conditions or taking certain types of medications.
Typical cases include:
- People with fiber sensitivity: Adding chia seeds may expose them to gastrointestinal problems.
- People using blood thinning medications or suffering bleeding disorders: The omega-3 fatty acids can potentially thin the blood leading to a risk of internal bleeding.
Options for removing stubborn body fat
Chia seeds are unlikely to help much in terms of getting rid of stubborn fat. When it comes to achieving definitive results, it may be necessary to explore other options that can reduce body fat safely and effectively without having to undergo surgery.
Today, non-invasive fat removal treatments provide us with the options to get rid of stubborn pockets of fat deposits from different parts of the body.
CoolSculpting is a non-invasive fat removal treatment based on a process known as cryolipolysis. This process freezes fat cells by targeting them with sub-zero temperatures, thus destroying them safely and effectively. It has become an increasingly popular treatment due to its lack of downtime, and efficiency for removing stubborn fat deposits in various areas of the body that are difficult to reach .
Treatment involves multiple sessions with CoolSculpting equipment, and results are usually seen a few weeks after the patient undergoes the last treatment session . Thereafter, over the next few weeks and months, the destroyed fat cells gradually find their way out along with other body wastes ejected via the body’s lymphatic system.
Each treatment session takes between 30 to 45 minutes. The practitioner uses an applicator connected to the main Coolsculpting device. When the applicator is used on the treatment zone, the patient feels a pinching, pulling, and tugging sensation along with intense coldness at the initial point of contact on the targeted skin area.
As the CoolSculpting treatment session progresses, the cold temperatures begin to have a numbing effect on the skin. At this stage, the fat cells which have a relatively lower resistance to the freezing temperatures begin to break down and die, while the adjoining skin layers remain safe and unaffected due to their higher resistance levels to the same temperature ranges. After the treatment, the broken-down fat cells are gradually eliminated from the body over the course of the following weeks.
SculpSure is also an FDA-approved non-invasive fat removal procedure. However, unlike the freezing temperatures deployed in cryolipolysis, SculpSure uses laser-induced heat energy to destroy stubborn fat deposits in the belly, thighs, and love handles as well as under the chin to name a few.
In a process called laser thermolysis, laser beams are focused upon the treatment zone by means of an applicator to the skin surface. This therapy comes with no downtime and allows patients to get back to their daily schedule almost immediately after undergoing the session .
During the treatment, the laser beams bypass the outer skin layer and target the fat cells beneath them. As a result of the intense heat, fat cells begin to disintegrate. On completion of the treatment, the body’s lymphatic processes expel the destroyed fat cells along with other wastes gradually over the next few weeks.
SculpSure also offers the additional benefit of improving skin tone as the thermal energy generated during treatment also boosts collagen production leading to smoother, plumper, and tighter skin for patients who struggle with issues of skin laxity.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence showing the correlation between chia seeds and weight loss, their high nutritional value and antioxidant content make them a great addition to your diet.
However, if you find that your stubborn fat deposits have been resistant to any form of diet or exercise, especially in areas such as under the chin, belly, and thighs, non-invasive fat removal treatments like SculpSure and CoolSculpting can be useful. Speak to our doctors to find out which treatment works best for you.