Chia seeds are a great dietary supplement due to their high levels of healthy fatty acids and soluble fiber. They are native to Central and South America, where they were considered to be of such value that the Aztecs used them as currency. Many people today are beginning to make used of their health benefits today in order to promote cardiovascular health and to aid in healthy weight loss. Like most supplements, the use of chia seeds does occasionally result in unfortunate side effects.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which chia seeds are very rich in, are an important element of a healthy diet but may cause difficulties for certain people. For those with specific blood diseases or those who are on blood thinners, taking chia seeds as a supplement may result in a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Taking supplements for Omega-3s is also not recommended for those who are slated to have surgery, as the blood-thinning properties can make the procedure extremely dangerous.
A common reported side effect of consuming chia seeds as a supplement is the occurrence of bloating and flatulence, along with other unpleasant gastrointestinal issues. Usually this is reported with people who are just beginning to incorporate chia seeds into their diet. The cause is usually simply because they are taking too much. The recommended daily intake is 2 tablespoons, and most experts recommend that they be soaked beforehand due to their fluid-absorbing properties. The most recommended way to reduce gastrointestinal issues when consuming chia seeds is to make sure you are getting plenty of water. If issues persist, reduce your intake. Stop taking them completely if you still have problems and consult a doctor, as you may have a condition which doesn’t allow for proper digestion.
Chia seeds are primarily taken to aid in cardiovascular health, but there is evidence that this may come at a cost for those who are at risk for prostate cancer. Those who have a high intake of alpha-linolenic acid, a form of Omega-3 which is prevalent in chia seeds, could have a higher risk of prostate cancer. The issue seems to stem from the fatty acid itself, as the same issues occur with those who have high blood levels of the acid, not just those who have a high dietary intake. The reason seems to stem because of alpha-linolenic acid’s role in carcinogenesis, which is the initial cancer formation.
As with most allergies, an allergic reaction to chia seeds may include watery eyes, hives, rashes, swelling and trouble breathing. While it is rare for people to be allergic to chia seeds, those who are allergic to mustard seed may be at the greatest risk for a reaction.
Interactions with Medication
Due to their blood-thinning properties, supplementing with chia seeds can be dangerous for those who are already on blood thinners or other medications for blood pressure. Because of this, it is highly advised that those who wish to supplement their diets should do so only after consulting with a licensed medical professional.
While chia seeds are indisputably healthy for a majority of the population, those who would think about taking up this supplement should do so with an air of caution. If you know you are at higher risk for prostate cancer or are on blood thinners, you should absolutely consult a doctor before supplementing. While supplements aren’t closely monitored by the FDA, the same level of care should be taken when using them. If you begin to notice side effects, stop supplementing until you can consult a medical professional.