2

votes

Is chia seed an effective source for fats and protein?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 14, 2010 at 10:43 PM

Chia seed was featured prominently recently in the book "Born To Run" as one of the staple foods of the Tarahumara indians of Mexico. Does it live up to the hype and stories?

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on May 11, 2011
at 01:23 PM

Truly ancient (paleo) people wouldn't have been able to eat large amounts of chia seeds. Once they began farming, those groups also ate maize and beans, so all we've learnt from your observation is that seeds are roughly equivalent to maize and beans. By suboptimal I don't mean 'not as good as sardines,' I mean very sub-optimal indeed- it contains more PUFA than 3 tablespoons of soybean oil. What actually is their nutritional value?

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 11, 2011
at 12:27 PM

"completely meaningless" ? I don't think so. We can always learn something looking at how ancient cultures ate and lived. "clearly suboptimal" ? Okay, so what? I don't want to eat sardines all day. Some Paleos are pretty hardcore against nuts, seeds, even some vegetables. I think these foods have real nutritional value and see them as different then grains which I avoid like the plague.

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 11, 2011
at 12:11 PM

@David "completely meaningless" ? I don't think so. We can always learn something looking at how ancient cultures ate and lived. They did not eat perfect, but what culture ever did? Including Paleo Man.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on May 11, 2011
at 07:42 AM

...(and even if she's wrong about butter in the case of the extremely dairy intolerant)... it's whether something is paleo metabolically rather than whether a food per se is paleo, that is important. Huge doses of PUFA are definitely not. Forget about worrying about 1.3g of EPA/DHA from fish oil being too much pufa, 100g of chia seeds is just under 25g (of much less useful) pufa!

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on May 11, 2011
at 07:38 AM

@oak0y I'm not sure whether you can overeat a food and feel ok (at the time) is a good indicator. Lots of people overeat vegetable oil and feel good. Sure, if you're dairy intolerant, don't eat butter, but I think it would be distinctly unwise to think that something that contains as much PUFA as canola oil (chia) or twice as much (walnuts) is healthy- you just won't be able to *feel* your cholesterol oxidising. I'm sure we can survive the odd yearly binge on nuts or couple of seeds we could gather, as our ancestors might have done, but eating lots is undeniably unpaleo... As Mari said...

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 10, 2011
at 11:41 PM

this probably depends on your metabolism. if your body digest butter good its good. im sure usally people better digest walnut fats. I say it for me. I cant binge on walnuts. In my area grow walnuts tree and i used to eat a lot from the streets. And its good for me. If i eat butter i dont feel such good. walnuts from walmark and other stores ore something different cant eat so much. Occasionally its posibble to overeat whith walnuts and feel good.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 10, 2011
at 11:38 PM

i think chia are good source. and low protein isnt a problem. its easy to get proteins. it often more hard to keep them down than not getting enough.

77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on May 10, 2011
at 10:15 PM

I think the distrust of alleged super foods is right on, but as a heuristic I generally take the attitude that if a food can contest for super food status among the health conscious, then its probably at least a good or very good food.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on May 10, 2011
at 09:36 PM

So what if they're paleo? Metabolism over reenactment. Like Kurt Harris said, a cup of butter is better than a cup of walnuts, despite the former not being "paleo".

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on May 10, 2011
at 08:31 PM

@Mark. Completely meaningless that those groups ate chia. I say above "as a staple for a civilisation... well they might do better than a civilisation living on maize, but that's not saying much!" In any case, chia seeds clearly fall into the same category as nuts and seeds in general- the main conclusion being that even if some groups do eat masses of them (normally seasonally) they're still clearly suboptimal (25% PUFA, and all the omega-3 pretty worthless ALA). I'm sceptical as to how many chia seeds any-one could find and eat, without cultivating them.

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 10, 2011
at 07:53 PM

Actually American & Mexicans Indians and the Aztec and Mayan peoples ate plenty of Chia. They are Paleo and a good food.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 15, 2010
at 09:58 AM

Funny you should say that Acton, since I used to live on flax seeds! (Being a student in college accommodation I had no way at all to cook fish and was trying to keep costs low; tinned salmon didn't appeal). You'd need a grinder though; personally I found all the mucilage quite tasty...

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6 Answers

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2
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 15, 2010
at 10:50 AM

The protein that chia seeds contain might be effective, but they contain comparatively little protein, like most seeds. Even if you ate only chia from dawn to dusk, you'd only get about 78g protein (on 2500 calories).

They're also not an ideal source of fats by any means. The omega-3 they contain is the plant form (ALA) which is substantially less useful and with it you get a substantial dose of omega-6. You could do without getting such a large (useless) dose of PUFA, which are highly oxidisable. They're an effective "source of fat" insofar that they contain lots of fat and fibre and so will be highly filling, but you'd do better to get your fats from SFA or MFA.

On paper they contain lots of nutrients, but given the fibre and antinutrients I can't testify as you how much you'd absorb. As a staple for a civilisation... well they might do better than a civilisation living on maize, but that's not saying much!

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 10, 2011
at 07:53 PM

Actually American & Mexicans Indians and the Aztec and Mayan peoples ate plenty of Chia. They are Paleo and a good food.

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 11, 2011
at 12:11 PM

@David "completely meaningless" ? I don't think so. We can always learn something looking at how ancient cultures ate and lived. They did not eat perfect, but what culture ever did? Including Paleo Man.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on May 10, 2011
at 08:31 PM

@Mark. Completely meaningless that those groups ate chia. I say above "as a staple for a civilisation... well they might do better than a civilisation living on maize, but that's not saying much!" In any case, chia seeds clearly fall into the same category as nuts and seeds in general- the main conclusion being that even if some groups do eat masses of them (normally seasonally) they're still clearly suboptimal (25% PUFA, and all the omega-3 pretty worthless ALA). I'm sceptical as to how many chia seeds any-one could find and eat, without cultivating them.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on May 11, 2011
at 01:23 PM

Truly ancient (paleo) people wouldn't have been able to eat large amounts of chia seeds. Once they began farming, those groups also ate maize and beans, so all we've learnt from your observation is that seeds are roughly equivalent to maize and beans. By suboptimal I don't mean 'not as good as sardines,' I mean very sub-optimal indeed- it contains more PUFA than 3 tablespoons of soybean oil. What actually is their nutritional value?

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 11, 2011
at 12:27 PM

"completely meaningless" ? I don't think so. We can always learn something looking at how ancient cultures ate and lived. "clearly suboptimal" ? Okay, so what? I don't want to eat sardines all day. Some Paleos are pretty hardcore against nuts, seeds, even some vegetables. I think these foods have real nutritional value and see them as different then grains which I avoid like the plague.

4
65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

on February 14, 2010
at 10:55 PM

As a source of protein, chia seed is digested and absorbed very easily. This results in rapid transport to the tissue and utilization by the cells.

Chia seed is the richest vegetables source for the essential omega-3 fatty acid. It has approximately three to ten times the oil concentrations of most grains and one and a half to two times the protein concentrations of other grains.

Per a container of Nu-Greens Chia Pure: Serving size = 15g

  • Total fat - 5g
    • Polyunsaturated fat - 4g
  • Protein - 3g
  • Total Carbohydrate - 6g
    • Dietary fiber - 6g

Percent Daily Values (trace minerals):

  • Calcium - 10%
  • Niacin - 5%
  • Iron - 15%
  • Magnesium - 15%
  • Phosphorus - 15%
  • Manganese - 20%

2
61ff86be603d2508d10eedb1997b3532

(400)

on February 16, 2011
at 02:37 PM

I recently tried Chia Seeds before a workout. I'm not sure they held up to the Born to Run hype, which made them sound like some kind of herbal-crack, but I definitely felt a surge of energy. Similar to a cup of coffee, but it seemed to last a little longer. Over-all a good experience.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 10, 2011
at 11:38 PM

i think chia are good source. and low protein isnt a problem. its easy to get proteins. it often more hard to keep them down than not getting enough.

0
535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 10, 2011
at 07:51 PM

Unlike flax, Chia seeds do not have to be chewed to release the nutrients, they absorb water and form a gel that is easily assimilated. Also, American and Mexican Indians ate a lot of them, thus they ARE Paleo. And yes, they live up to the hype.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 10, 2011
at 11:41 PM

this probably depends on your metabolism. if your body digest butter good its good. im sure usally people better digest walnut fats. I say it for me. I cant binge on walnuts. In my area grow walnuts tree and i used to eat a lot from the streets. And its good for me. If i eat butter i dont feel such good. walnuts from walmark and other stores ore something different cant eat so much. Occasionally its posibble to overeat whith walnuts and feel good.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on May 11, 2011
at 07:38 AM

@oak0y I'm not sure whether you can overeat a food and feel ok (at the time) is a good indicator. Lots of people overeat vegetable oil and feel good. Sure, if you're dairy intolerant, don't eat butter, but I think it would be distinctly unwise to think that something that contains as much PUFA as canola oil (chia) or twice as much (walnuts) is healthy- you just won't be able to *feel* your cholesterol oxidising. I'm sure we can survive the odd yearly binge on nuts or couple of seeds we could gather, as our ancestors might have done, but eating lots is undeniably unpaleo... As Mari said...

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on May 10, 2011
at 09:36 PM

So what if they're paleo? Metabolism over reenactment. Like Kurt Harris said, a cup of butter is better than a cup of walnuts, despite the former not being "paleo".

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on May 11, 2011
at 07:42 AM

...(and even if she's wrong about butter in the case of the extremely dairy intolerant)... it's whether something is paleo metabolically rather than whether a food per se is paleo, that is important. Huge doses of PUFA are definitely not. Forget about worrying about 1.3g of EPA/DHA from fish oil being too much pufa, 100g of chia seeds is just under 25g (of much less useful) pufa!

0
6b73f0c4b971e2dde7147920e329fe7f

(2041)

on February 15, 2010
at 02:27 AM

I have tried chia seeds before. There's no way anyone could rely on them as a staple food. They are similar to flaxseeds in that the seed coat is a thick mucilage that forms a gel when hydrated. The seeds are too small to effectively chew to release nutrition. In large amounts, the high PUFA load would cause liver disease.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on February 15, 2010
at 09:58 AM

Funny you should say that Acton, since I used to live on flax seeds! (Being a student in college accommodation I had no way at all to cook fish and was trying to keep costs low; tinned salmon didn't appeal). You'd need a grinder though; personally I found all the mucilage quite tasty...

-2
93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on February 15, 2010
at 12:16 AM

My answer: I don't know, but I doubt that it (or any food) is a so-called "super-food".

Every year there are new, trendy "super-foods":

Noni juice Aloe vera juice Acai berries Mangosteen

etc etc

Chia seeds may also contain the same sorts of substances that make grains unhealthy, things like phytic acid and/or gluten.

77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on May 10, 2011
at 10:15 PM

I think the distrust of alleged super foods is right on, but as a heuristic I generally take the attitude that if a food can contest for super food status among the health conscious, then its probably at least a good or very good food.

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