According to a newly released study, a teaspoon of Chia seeds sprinkled over breakfast cereal each day may help improve heart and liver health.
Research conducted by biomedical scientists and published recently in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that Chia seed fed to obese laboratory rats caused the redistribution of fat that had accumulated near vital human organs, such as the heart and liver, leading to protection of both organs from damage.
The study led by USQ Professor Lindsay Brown and conducted by Hemant Poudyal, Sunil Panchal, Jennifer Waanders and Leigh Ward determined the changes in the structure and function of the heart and liver, as well as changes in abdominal fat pads and metabolism, in diet-induced obese rats.
One group of rats was given a high carbohydrate, high fat diet supplemented with 5% Chia seeds for the last 8 weeks, while the other group was fed a high carbohydrate, high fat diet alone.
The study found that the rats fed the Chia seeds had improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance and reduced heart and liver inflammation, and the abdominal fat had been distributed to other parts of the body.
Professor Lindsay Brown said this new research suggested that just a spoonful of Chia seeds each day could help improve the quality of people’s lives.
‘Chia is the highest plant-based source of omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and also contains dietary fiber and protein,’ Professor Brown said.
‘The accumulation of abdominal fat near vital organs is a major contributor to heart and liver disease, so the potential health benefits of Chia seeds to people are significant.’
Heirloom Chia seeds were a dietary staple of the Aztecs and Mayans and were eaten as a grain, mixed with water and drunk, ground into flour, added to medicine and incorporated into face and body paints.