Study under review: Salba-chia (Salvia hispanica L.) in the treatment of overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes: A double-blind randomized controlled trial.
Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.) are a well-known food, partially thanks to the constant marketing of their “superfood” properties. Historically, chia originated in Mexico and has been part of the human diet for about 5,500 years. Although the composition of the seed is variable and depends on the region where it grows, the USDA food database reports that, on average, chia seeds are 16% protein, 30% fat, and 42% carbohydrate by weight. They also boast a high content of fiber (34%) and the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (18%).
The nutritional composition of chia seeds, especially the high protein, fiber, and alpha-linolenic acid content, has led to several investigations regarding chia’s health effects and potential as a so-called functional food. Studies on rats have demonstrated that adding chia seeds to the diet leads to favorable changes in blood lipids and can reduce visceral fat and insulin resistance. Several acute studies in healthy adults have reported that eating both milled and whole-seed chia reduces post-meal blood glucose levels and increases satiety when the chia is consumed alongside a standard oral glucose tolerance test or when the chia is baked into white bread.
Despite a promising preclinical basis for using chia seeds in the management of metabolic disease risk factors, data on the long-term impact of chia supplementation is scarce and inconsistent (as shown in Figure 1). In healthy adults with overweight or obesity, supplementing chia seeds appears to have little impact on bodyweight or composition, blood lipids, inflammation, or blood pressure. There was also no effect of chia seed supplementation on bodyweight, measures of glycemic control, or blood lipids in patients with type 2 diabetes, although it did lead to a significant reduction in blood pressure and C-reactive protein.
References: Tavares et al. Nutr Hosp. 2014 Dec.
de Souza et al. Nutr Hosp 2015 Nov.
None of the aforementioned interventions lasted longer than 12 weeks, leaving the possibility that the benefits of chia seed supplementation on metabolic disease risk factors may take more time to manifest. The study under review sought to determine the effect of chia seed supplementation over six months in participants with type 2 diabetes, making it the longest intervention to date.
Chia seeds have been investigated as a potential functional food in the management of metabolic diseases due to their high protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acid content. Interventions in healthy adults with obesity have not supported a positive effect of chia supplementation on disease risk factors, but an intervention in participants with type 2 diabetes suggests there may be a benefit. The study under review sought to examine the effect of chia seed supplementation in participants with type 2 diabetes over six months.
Other Articles in Issue #29 (March 2017)
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Do probiotics and prebiotics reduce infections after surgery?
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Interview: Joel Feren APD, AN & Andy De Santis RD, MPH
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