Ch-ch-chia and Cholesterol!
When a reader brought this point up we originally thought he was talking about Chai tea. But No! He asked about the benefits of chia seed and its use in improving cholesterol levels.
As I looked into it, I found an enormous amount of research (and a ton of it was credible) to indicate this little seed is quite miraculous.
This seed was made popular by the Chia Pet people who sold it as a fun past-time for kids and adults, as it was used to grow a little garden on the outside of a clay animal, head, or other shape.
But this seed actually has quite a lot of nutritive benefits, and one of them is to improve cholesterol. The ways in which this occurs are quite interesting.
First, this seed helps a person to lose weight, which almost always leads to an improvement in cholesterol numbers.
The way it works is this: this entirely safe and edible seed develops a gel coating around it when combined with water. This gel, similar to psyllium in fiber drinks, helps to make one feel full, thus reducing the amount of food consumed.
People sprinkle it on salads and over a slice of pizza. It is tossed over casseroles with breadcrumbs and mixed in with granola and honey for snacks. The magic occurs when you chase whatever you eat that has the seeds with water. The gel forms and then you’re on your way to a fuller stomach without needing pills.
The next benefit for cholesterol that this process provides is with the dramatic increase of soluble and insoluble fiber. As we have read in past articles, you HAVE to get that fiber up if you are going to get your cholesterol down. The combination of these fibers helps to rid the body of LDL cholesterol.
Another benefit is that this beautiful little seed has higher Omega-3 content than a comparable slice of salmon fillet. Don’t like fish? Concerned about mercury? Grab some of these little seeds and you really increase your Omega-3 consumption.
Omega-3 fatty acids are critical in normalizing cholesterol levels because it forces triglyceride levels down and also reduces the buildup of plaque. There is even evidence that Omega-3 helps to keep arteries from hardening, which is an added benefit for those battling high blood pressure.
I would caution, though, that if you are already taking a fish oil supplement that you talk to your doctor before adding chia seed to your diet. Too much Omega-3 can set you up for increase risk of bleeding. If you are on aspirin or other blood-thinning therapy this becomes more important.
Aside from that, there is no evidence that I could find to suggest that eating chia seeds (with plenty of water) is anything but healthy.
Normal food safety guidelines would apply, such as not eating old or contaminated seeds, so make sure that when you go shopping for seeds you are getting good product.
If you have a local health food store or organic market in your area, you should be able to find quality seeds and even some recipes.
Another place to find the seeds would be on the Internet. There are several credible and inexpensive sources on the net and a quick search in Google turns up thousands of matching responses.
If you have a great recipe for using chia seed, let us know. We’ll be glad to share it with others.
For other Cholesterol-lowering methods that are natural and safe, look at our Cholesterol Guide today.
by Scott Davis