There are so many benefits of chia that the seed of Mexican origin has even been considered as a superfood by nutrition professionals. And since it has a high content of lipids, the seed can be pressed to obtain its edible oil.
Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, chia oil does well not only to health but also to good form - yes, one of the benefits of chia oil is that it can be a great ally of weight loss diets.
Learn a little about this and other benefits of chia oil, and also see tips on how to add food to your daily menu.
About 25-40% of the chia seed is composed of oil, and of that total, no less than 63% is formed by omega-3( or alpha-linolenic acid) fatty acids.
Other fatty acids found in good amounts in chia oil: linoleic acid, or omega 6( 21%) and oleic acid( 7.2%).
Like all other vegetable oils, chia oil is highly caloric( 120 calories per scoop) and does not contain a significant amount of fiber, amino acids and carbohydrates.
What Serves It?
Chia oil serves as a vegetable source of omega 3, a fatty acid essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system.
Inadequate levels of alpha-linolenic acid can not only compromise neural functions but also promote the onset of inflammation leading to weight gain.
Other properties of chia oil: cardiovascular protection, improved skin appearance and toning the scalp.
Which is better: oil or chia seed?
One of the main advantages of chia oil in relation to seeds is palatability;many people do not like to feel the "gelatinous seed" in their mouths, so oil becomes a more practical option to get all the benefits of chia.
Oil also concentrates more omega 3's than whole seeds, and can be added to basically any recipe - be it sweet or salty.
On the other hand, chia oil is quite caloric, and like any other fat, it can cause weight gain if consumed in excess. It is also poor in fiber, protein and other nutrients found in large quantities in seeds.
When mixed in water, seeds also have the advantage of forming a gel in the stomach, an effect that may aid in appetite control.
And finally, the seeds contain the oil that has not yet been oxidized - which can occur when it is exposed to the air for a long time.
As we can see, therefore, there are both benefits of chia oil and chia seeds to health, and these can be used in a complementary way to improve health and facilitate weight maintenance.
Benefits of Chia Oil
Not all the benefits of chia( such as improved bowel function and glycemic control) are maintained during the pressing of seeds, but the oil still brings health benefits as a whole:
1. It isan excellent source of Omega 3
Our body is not able to synthesize Omega 3, so it is essential to get the nutrient from the food. Salmon, sardines and tuna are the most well-known sources of essential fatty acids, but chia oil can be a good alternative for those who do not( or can not) consume animal fat.
Research has proven that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, lower the risk of heart disease, improve rheumatic disease( arthritis, arthritis, gout, etc.) and even prevent certain types of cancer.
Some recent studies have also found a relationship between omega 3 intake and:
- an improvement in the symptoms of ADHD( Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder);
- reduction of menstrual pain;
- greater mood control.
2. Provides Heart Protection
Numerous scientific studies have proven that omega-3 fatty acids offer protection against diseases of the cardiovascular system. And how does omega 3 help improve heart health?
Unlike omega-6 fatty acids, which are associated with inflammation, omega-3s have the opposite action. Fat prevents inflammation in the wall of the arteries, and thus inhibits the formation of clots that could obstruct blood flow.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids from chia oil also act on cholesterol levels, reducing the oxidation of LDL( bad cholesterol) and making it difficult to deposit inside the arteries.
According to a study published in 2007 in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism , animals that consumed chia oil showed an improvement in their cholesterol levels. The same effect was observed when the rats received whole or ground chia seeds.
For the authors, this effect can be attributed to the action of omega 3, which reduces LDL rates while favoring an increase in the levels of good cholesterol( HDL), thus offering greater protection against cardiovascular complicationsarteriosclerosis and infarction).
3. Facilitates Weight Loss
Chia Oil Lose Weight? Not exactly, after all we are talking about a food with more than 100 calories in a single spoon. When used in substitution for other less healthy oils, however, chia oil may rather be an ally of the diet.
This is because, unlike soybean and canola oils, chia oil contains more omega 3 than omega 6( as we have seen previously, no less than 60% of the oil is omega 3).
Scientists suggest that in order to avoid inflammation and other complications, the ideal is to maintain a ratio of 2: 1 - or at most 3: 1 in favor of omega 6.
However, as a result of modern food - rich in highly processed foodsand poor in healthy fats - this ratio is now totally out of the norm for maintaining body balance( in some regions, it reaches 15: 1 in favor of omega 6).
Because it is rich in omega-3s, chia oil helps to normalize this ratio, reducing the inflammation that occurs when fat cells "expand" to accumulate more lipids. In this process, a leakage of the inside of the cells can occur, which ends up generating a focus of inflammation.
When this effect multiplies by numerous cells, the result is a lack of control of hormones that regulate appetite, and a greater difficulty in burning fat( while it is easier to store what we consume through food).
It can be said, therefore, that omega 3 should enter the diet of those who are trying to lose weight because it reduces inflammation, favors the burning of fat, hinders the accumulation of fatty acids and improves the mechanism of action of leptin and ghrelin,two hormones involved in signaling hunger and satiety.
4. Reduces joint pain
Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of omega 3, the benefits of chia oil to the treatment of rheumatic pains have become increasingly popular.
Many bouts of arthritis - when there is a very painful inflammation of the joints - can be softened by daily consumption of chia oil, which not only reduces inflammation but also improves the mobility of affected joints.
As with the other benefits of chia oil, however, it is necessary that food intake be regular, not just during inflammatory episodes.
5. May be useful in the fight against cancer
Neighboring Argentina's Argentine research has linked the use of omega-3s with the inhibition of cancer. Published in the scientific journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids , the animal study found that chia oil can reduce the weight of the tumor and the amount of cancer cells.
At the same time, vegetable oil was able to stimulate the death of tumor cells, reducing the size and even metastasis of the tumor( spread of cancer to other areas of the body).
6. Does good for skin
There are benefits of chia oil for the skin indirectly and directly. First, because when consumed through diet, fatty acids nourish cells at a deeper level and reduce the inflammations that cause, among other problems, cellulites.
The application of oil on the fabric exerts a soothing effect on the skin and is therefore very useful for relieving irritations and improving hydration. Omega 3 can also minimize part of the oxidative and inflammatory effects of free radicals, improving the overall appearance of the skin and preventing cell damage that causes the aging of the tissue.
It is clear that chia oil does not work miracles, but if used regularly it can help treat acne and even rejuvenate the skin constantly exposed to the sun. Simply massage a few drops onto the skin after bathing, especially in the most parched areas.
7. Great for
Hair Just like olive oil and avocado oil, chia oil can be used to treat scalp problems - such as dandruff - and also to stimulate hair growth.
Being chia rich in zinc, the seed oil keeps part of the mineral used to form new yarns and also to strengthen the hair and prevent the early fall. To effectively get the benefits of chia oil for your hair, apply a few drops on the already washed hair.
If the goal is to treat the scalp, massage the root of the wires with the oil and wait at least 30 minutes before washing the hair.
If you have excessively oily wires, apply the oil only on the tips, to avoid dryness and increase the luster of the hair naturally.
- Be careful not to overdo chia oil: use up to two tablespoons a day, and always replace other vegetable oils( it's no use just adding the oil to the menu without making any changes in your diet - you risk evengain weight);
- Use chia oil to season salads or finalize dishes. Avoid carrying the oil to the fire, because the high temperatures oxidize the fat and can lead to the formation of toxic compounds;
- Although chia oil capsules are more practical, oil in natura has greater potential for satiety, and should be seen as a better option when the goal is to control appetite;
- If you still prefer to use the capsules, 1000mg per day already brings the benefits of chia oil to health. You can take 500 mg before breakfast and another 500 mg before lunch, always with a glass of water;
- Prepare a delicious salad dressing by combining: ¼ cup white vinegar, ¾ cup chia oil, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons herbs of your choice( parsley, chives, oregano, etc.)¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper;
- As chia oil has a neutral taste, you can use it in sweet and salty recipes. Try adding the oil to the recipes of bread and pies, soups, cakes, yogurt, protein shake and where else you imagine;
- To prevent dry lips, apply a drop of chia oil around the mouth. For best results, repeat the procedure regularly;
- A spoonful of chia oil a day can stimulate intestinal function and combat swelling in the abdomen;
- There are no reports of side effects of chia oil when used in moderate amounts. If you experience any abdominal discomfort or skin irritation after topical use of the product, reduce the dosage or stop the use of the oil.
- Ayerza Jr. R. Coates W. Effect of Dietary α-Linolenic Fatty Acid Derived from Chia when fed as Ground Seed, Whole Seed and Oil on Lipid Content and Fatty Acid Composition of Rat Plasma. Ann Nutr Metab 2007; 51: 27-34
- Norlaily Mohd Ali et al. The Promising Future of Chia, Salvia hispanica L. J Biomed Biotechnol.2012;2012: 171956.