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The word chia means “strength” in the ancient Mayan language – a fitting name for a superfood laden with nutrients.
Early Native Americans were well aware of the many benefits of chia seeds and used them regularly in their diet. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), chia seeds and corn were grown together in Mexico for centuries. (1)
Chia seeds are tiny black and white seeds of the flowering plant Salvia hispanica, a close relative of the mint plant. (2)They are packed with essential minerals and antioxidants.
Regular consumption of chia seeds can lead to numerous health benefits: better hair growth, improved gut health, (3) and lowered blood sugar levels, to name a few. (1)
Hair Benefits of Chia Seeds
The high nutritional content of chia seeds makes them an excellent natural remedy for various health issues.
Chia seed oil can be incredibly beneficial for your hair. It can help repair damaged hair, boost hair growth, reduce graying, and improve scalp health.
1. Strengthens hair
Chia seeds can help strengthen your hair due to their high protein content. Keratin is a type of protein present in chia seeds that provides a shiny, protective covering to your hair.
Chia seeds are also rich in copper and phosphorus, which make your hair strands thick and strong.
2. Promote hair growth
Chia seeds are rich in essential amino acids and minerals such as copper and zinc. Essential amino acids can help keep your scalp healthy and fight inflammation to promote hair growth.
Zinc and copper boost hair growth and prevent thinning of hair. Zinc also improves your immune response and fights against scalp infections.
3. Boosts elasticity
Soaked chia seeds have a thick, gel-like consistency and retain water. They can soften and condition your hair, making it strong and pliable.
4. Adds shine to tired tresses
The high zinc content of chia seeds can improve the general texture and look of your hair. Zinc helps protect the hair against environmental damage and UV exposure. It also imparts a natural shine to your hair.
5. Inhibits thinning
Chia seeds contain the essential minerals copper and iron, which help fight hair loss and thinning.
Copper promotes blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles to boost hair growth. Iron makes your hair strong and healthy.
6. Reduces hair loss
Chia seeds are packed with nutrients that help decrease hair loss.
Zinc, copper, protein, essential amino acids, phosphorous, etc., are all vital for hair growth and strength. Adequate consumption of these nutrients can help solve all your hair woes and promote hair growth.
7. Maintain long hair
Protein, especially keratin, is the essential building block of hair. Chia seed oil provides keratin to your hair and scalp, strengthening the hair and helping them grow longer. (4)
8. Prevent dry, frizzy hair
Chia seeds contain moisture-retaining properties and can soak up large amounts of water. Thus, soaked chia seeds can work as a natural conditioner and tame your frizzy hair.
9. Delay the graying of hair
Copper provides pigmentation to your hair. Copper ions play an important role in the production of melanin, the pigment that imparts color to your hair and skin.
Consuming chia seeds can increase the copper content in your body, thus increasing melanin formation and delaying the graying of hair.
10. Reduces inflammation
The antioxidants in chia seeds help reduce scalp inflammation. This can lead to increased hair growth and strength.
Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are rich in fiber, calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, etc. They contain all the essential amino acids required by the body.
Chia seeds contain an unusually high amount of fiber for their tiny size. They can contribute to a significant portion of your daily fiber intake (28 g). (2) Dietary fiber adds bulk to stools so that they become easier to pass.
Since chia seeds are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates, they can be an ideal addition to a low-carb diet.
Chia seeds are also an excellent source of calcium for the body. They can provide nearly 18% of the required daily intake of calcium. (5)
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for healthy hair. They help keep your hair soft and supple and also exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. (6) Chia seeds are filled with omega-3 fatty acids and can help improve the overall health of your hair.
Protein is another vital nutrient required for your hair. It helps promote hair growth and strength. Chia seeds contain high levels of proteins, as much as 15%–20% of their weight. (7)
Chia seeds have several antioxidant properties that can help reverse the effects of aging on your body. Antioxidants protect your skin and hair cells from free radical damage and also improve the general health of your organs.
Chia seeds contain caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, quercetin, etc., which function as antioxidants inside your body.
Zinc and copper
Zinc and copper are metals required in trace amounts by your body. They can be especially beneficial for hair growth.
Low levels of copper can cause hair fall, and zinc deficiencies can stunt the growth of new hair. Chia seeds contain both these elements in adequate amounts.
Chia seeds are a rich source of important minerals including iron, manganese, and calcium. (8) These minerals help your body function normally and also promote hair growth.
Chia seeds contain vitamins A, E, and C in surplus amounts. These vitamins are essential for a healthy immune system.
Note: According to the USDA, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds contains approximately 2 mg of phosphorus, 7 mg of calcium, 5 IU of vitamin A, 2 mg vitamin C, 1 mg of vitamin E, and 8 mg of potassium.
DIY Hair Care Using Chia Seeds
Chia seeds can be consumed orally or used in homemade hair masks and gels to improve your hair texture and strength.
Here are a few effective DIY hair masks made from chia seeds to add shine and strength to your hair:
1. Chia seeds hair mask
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- Mix all the ingredients and heat the mixture for a few seconds.
- Apply this hair mask to your hair and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Wash it off with water.
2. Chia seeds hair gel
- 1 cup water
- 4 cups chia seeds
- 2 tbsp aloe vera
- 3 drops sweet almond oil
- Add the chia seeds to water and let them rest overnight.
- Heat this mixture in the morning for a few minutes.
- Filter the seeds.
- Add the aloe vera and almond oil to the gel.
- Apply this chia seed gel to your scalp and hair.
- Let it rest for half an hour.
- Rinse it off with water and a mild shampoo.
3. Chia seeds and egg hair mask
- 2 egg whites
- 1 tbsp yogurt
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- Mix all the ingredients to form a paste.
- Apply this hair mask to your scalp and let it rest for 45 minutes.
- Wash it off with water and a mild shampoo. This mask can help add moisture to dry and damaged hair.
4. Chia seeds smoothie
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp oats
- ½ cup milk
- ½ tbsp honey
- ½ tbsp peanut butter
- Mix all the ingredients and blend them to form a smoothie.
- Drink this smoothie once a day for best results.
Some other ways to add chia seeds to your diet:
- Chia seeds can be added to juices for convenient consumption.
- Chia seeds can be baked in cakes, biscuits, etc.
- Chia seed gel can be an effective vegan substitute for eggs when baking. Mix 1 tbsp of chia seed gel with 3 tbsp of water to make an egg substitute.
Some Benefits of Chia Seeds for Health
Chia seeds can do wonders for your overall health too:
- Boost calcium levels in the bones to strengthen them
- Increase fiber content to improve digestion
- Help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes
- Protect your body against certain types of cancers
- Help improve the functioning of your heart
- Lower cholesterol levels in the body
- Help in weight loss by reducing appetite
- Help improve brain function
Potential Health Risks of Consuming Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a natural plant product and generally do not have any severe side effects. However, since they contain high levels of fiber, chia seeds can cause bloating or diarrhea if consumed excessively. (9)
Always remember to consume any food in moderation. The recommended daily intake of chia seeds is 1.5 tbsp per day.
Make sure to contact your doctor immediately if you experience an allergic reaction to chia seeds. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include watery eyes, rashes, difficulty breathing, excessive sneezing, and severe diarrhea.
Most-Asked Questions About Chia Seeds
Chia seeds or flax seeds, which is better?
Chia seeds and flax seeds are both highly nutritious foods and can be beneficial for your health. Flax seeds can help reduce cholesterol levels in the body to decrease your blood pressure and boost female fertility.
Chia seeds, on the other hand, have more benefits for your health. They can help lower blood pressure, blood sugar levels, improve gut health, and protect against certain types of cancers.
Is there a disadvantage to chia seeds?
Chia seeds are filled with fiber and excessive consumption can lead to digestive issues. Do not exceed the recommended daily intake level of chia seeds.
Consult your doctor before consuming chia seeds regularly if you suffer from hypotension or take anticoagulant medicines, as chia seeds can significantly lower blood pressure.
Can chia seeds aid in weight loss?
Chia seeds have moisture-retaining properties and soak up water. Eating chia seeds will help suppress your appetite as they absorb water in your stomach and help keep you filled for longer.
Soak 1 tbsp of chia seeds in a glass of water and leave them overnight. Drink the water on an empty stomach in the morning. This helps curb your appetite during the day and helps you lose weight effectively.
How much chia seeds should be eaten in a day?
The recommended daily intake of chia seeds is about 1½ tbsp per day.
Chia seeds are one of the most highly nutritious foods known to man. They can be beneficial for your gut, immunity, heart, mental health, and more.
Moreover, chia seeds are an excellent natural remedy for all your hair woes. They can boost hair growth, decrease hair fall, moisturize your hair, and strengthen them.
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- Knez Hrnčič M, Ivanovski M, Cör D, Knez Ž. Chia seeds (salvia hispanica L.): An overview-phytochemical profile, isolation methods, and application. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6994964/. Published December 18, 2019.
- Wang DH; Wang Z; Chen R; Kothapalli KSD; Brenna JT; Very long-chain branched-chain fatty acids in Chia seeds: Implications for human use. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33172266/.
- Very long-chain branched-chain fatty acids in Chia seeds: Implications for human use. ACS Publications. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jafc.0c05612.
- Hub: The chemical composition and nutritional value of Chia seeds-current state of knowledge: 10.3390/NU11061242. Sci. https://sci-hub.mksa.top/10.3390/nu11061242.
- MB; C. Omega-3 fatty acids. American family physician. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15259529/.
- Mohd Ali N, Yeap SK, Ho WY, Beh BK, Tan SW, Tan SG. The promising future of Chia, salvia hispanica L. Journal of biomedicine & biotechnology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3518271/. Published 2012.
- MBPP; MDMTBO. Chia Seeds: An ancient grain trending in modern human diets. Food & function. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31086922/.
- EFSA Panelon Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (EFSA NDA Panel), Turck D, Castenmiller J, et al. Safety of Chia seeds (salviahispanica L.) as a novel food for extended uses pursuant to regulation (EU) 2015/2283. EFSA journal. European Food Safety Authority. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC7009096/. Published April 17, 2019.
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