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Salvia hispanica

Salvia hispanica (Chia) are seeds commonly used to supplement dietary fiber and are claimed to have other health promoting properties. Its mechanical properties may provide use during baking and the fiber content good for bowel health with health promoting effects not yet demonstrated.

Our evidence-based analysis on salvia hispanica features 18 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Salvia hispanica

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Chia seeds (grain product, surprisingly) are seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica that are ground and used for supplemental purposes to supply dietary fiber and fatty acids. The fiber component is mostly insoluble and absorbs a large amount of water (similar to psyllium husk, comparisons between the two not conducted) while the fatty acid component tends to be mostly omega-3 fatty acids (60% overall and as alpha-linoleic acid) and some omega-6 fatty acids (20% overall and as linolenic acid). There are some phenolics in chia as well, with Myricetin being the most plentiful one.

For all intents and purposes, currently chia supplementation is only really supported for the fiber aspect and even this is not overly well supported. Dietary inclusion of chia (assuming calories are kept the same) has mixed evidence for some health parameters and null evidence for other parameters and currently no human evidence for weight loss. A reduction in appetite has been noted once (common to dietary fiber) but this does not appear to reduce weight over longer trials where diet is not controlled.

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How to Take

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

25g of chia tends to be used once daily with a meal for the purposes of general health and intestinal motility. There is no evidence to suggest if this is the optimal dose.

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Human Effect Matrix

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The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Salvia hispanica has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-c Minor - See study
The decrease in appetite in one study was notable, but longer term studies do not note weight loss when diet is uncontrolled (which undermines the idea that chia is a potent appetite suppressant)
grade-c Minor Moderate See all 3 studies
Has been implicated in reducing postprandial glucose while having no significant influence on fasting glucose levels.
grade-c Minor - See 2 studies
It is possible that a decrease in C-Reactive protein may exist but evidence is contradictory at this moment in time
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on blood pressure noted with long term chia ingestion
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
HDL-C appears to be unaffected with chia ingestion when compared to similar macronutrient sources
grade-c - - See study
No significant alteration in serum biomarkers noted with chia seeds
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
LDL-C appears to be unaffected with chia ingestion when compared to similar macronutrient sources
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on total cholesterol levels after inclusion of chia seeds into the diet
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on triglycerides
grade-d Minor - See study
A decrease in fibrinogen has been noted with chia seed ingestion according to one study
grade-d Minor - See study
An increase in skin moisture has been noted with topical chia seed application (4% of the solution being chia oil)
grade-d Minor - See study
Topical application of chia seed oil to the skin appears to confer some symptom reduction in xerotic pruritus
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence on HbA1c levels of diabetics given chia seeds
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence on fasting insulin levels following chronic consumption of chia seeds in the diet

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Things to Note

Is a Form Of

Other Functions:

Primary Function:

Also Known As

Chia seeds, Mexican chia, Salba

Do Not Confuse With

Salvia divinorum (street drug), Salvia sclarea, Salvia miltiorrhiza

  • The mechanical properties of chia may make it useful as an egg/oil replacement in some baking products to increase dietary fiber content

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Click here to see all 18 references.