Could you please advise the scientific difference comparing between omega 3 from Chia oil and other source of omega 3?, also health benefit from Chia oil consumption?


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  1. Ricebowl Food Expert
    February 7, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Scientific Comparison of Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Chia oil with Other Sources and Their Health Benefits from Consumption


    Omega-3 fatty acids are heart-healthy polyunsaturated fat, which include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (can be found only in plant source), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA are classified as long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which are most commonly found in cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines (Boone, 2014) while ALA is a shorter chain omega-3 fatty acids and are found in plant-based sources such as chia seed, flax seed, walnut and etc.


    EPA and DHA are the biologically active form of fatty acids and are incorporated into cell membranes activity. On the other hand, ALA is a precursor to EPA and DHA. ALA from foods like chia seeds needs to be converted into the active forms (DHA and EPA) before it can utilised by the body. However, the conversion rate in human body is inefficient, where the conversion rate of ALA to EPA often falls in 0.2% to 9%, while ALA to DHA is even lower. Despite that, women of childbearing age might be able to convert up to 21% of their dietary ALA to EPA (Greenberg et al., 2008). Due to its relatively low conversion rate, ALA might not be able to achieve the same health benefits as EPA and DHA do.


    Both chia seeds and fish oil are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, a teaspoon of chia seeds contains about 720mg of omega-3 fatty acids, while a teaspoon of cod liver oil contains 800mg omega-3 fatty acids, and 470mg in a teaspoon of herring oil. However, the quantity is not the only factor that matters (Heal with Food Organisation, n.d.-a).


    Researchers found that omega-3 may help in reducing inflammation, increasing brain development and overall health, relieving pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, and lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases (Boone, 2014).


    There is an abundance of strong scientific evidence specifically point out the potential health benefits of fish-derived EPA and DHA. The health benefits of EPA and DHA includes improvement in cardiovascular functions, healthy fetal development, and protection against Alzheimer’s disease (Heal with Food Organisation, n.d.-a).


    The nutrient-dense chia seed is a rich blend of protein, fat, fibre and carbohydrate that maintain blood sugars and energy levels in steady condition. Chia seed is packed with disease-fighting nutrients, well known for its inflammation-quelling omega-3 fatty acids, heart-healthy fibre, and also cell-protecting antioxidants (Boone, 2014).


    Even so, some researchers have found that ALA may establish similar benefits to heart health and body health (Boone, 2014), but it is worth noting that the evidence is not as strong as for the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and other marine sources (Rajaram, 2014). Furthermore, plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce various biomarkers of inflammation in humans (Roos, et al., 2008 ; Stark et al., 2008).


    Sufficient intake in ALA may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and decrease the overall risk of heart disease and help to prevent sudden death from heart attack. According to some clinical trials, researchers have found that higher intake of ALA-rich foods, the possibilities of death from heart disease and heart attacks seem to be lower. Hence, ALA-rich foods such as chia seeds are alternate options for boosting intake of omega-3 to secure heart health, especially for those who do not consume DHA- and EPA-rich fish or fish oil supplements (Boone, 2014).


    Other than increasing omega-3 levels in blood, there are several animal studies proven that chia seeds help in reduce insulin resistance and improve the stability of blood sugar level, which is essential risk factor for metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Oliva et al., 2013; Poudyal et al., 2012; Chicco et al., 2008; Marineli et al., 2015). Nevertheless, more research study is needed to support the big health and nutrition claims on animal is applicable for human as well.


    On top of that, human studies also showed that consumption of bread made with chia seeds lead to reduction in blood sugar level compared to other traditional bread (Vuksan et al., 2010; Ho et al., 2013). Chia seeds and chia flour may also play a role in lower blood pressure in individual with hypertension (Vuksan et al., 2007; Toscano et al., 2014). In addition, it also supercharged with hair and skin health promoting nutrients as well as immune-boosting properties owing to its rich antioxidants content (Heal with Food Organisation, n.d.-b).



    • Boone, L. (2014). Superfoods for Life, Chia: * Boost Stamina * Aid Weight Loss * Improve Digestion * 75 Recipes. USA: Quayside Publishing Group.

    • Chicco, A., D’Alessandro, M., Hein, G., Oliva, M., & Lombardo, Y. (2008). Dietary chia seed ( Salvia hispanica L.) rich in α-linolenic acid improves adiposity and normalises hypertriacylglycerolaemia and insulin resistance in dyslipaemic rats. British Journal Of Nutrition101(01), 41.

    • Greenberg, J. A., Bell, S. J., & Ausdal, W. V. (2008). Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplementation during pregnancy. Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology1(4), 162-9.

    • Heal with Food Organisation. (n.d.-a). Chia Seeds vs Fish Oil: Omega-3 Content.

    • Heal with Food Organisation. (n.d.-b). Why Chia Seeds Are Good for You (and the Healthiest Way to Eat Them).

    • Ho, H., Lee, A., Jovanovski, E., Jenkins, A., DeSouza, R., & Vuksan, V. (2013). Effect of whole and ground Salba seeds (Salvia Hispanica L.) on postprandial glycemia in healthy volunteers: a randomized controlled, dose-response trial. European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition67(7), 786-788.

    • Marineli, R., Moura, C., Moraes, É., Lenquiste, S., Lollo, P., & Morato, P. et al. (2015). Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) enhances HSP, PGC-1α expressions and improves glucose tolerance in diet-induced obese rats. Nutrition31(5), 740-748.

    • Oliva, M., Ferreira, M., Chicco, A., & Lombardo, Y. (2013). Dietary Salba (Salvia hispanica L) seed rich in α-linolenic acid improves adipose tissue dysfunction and the altered skeletal muscle glucose and lipid metabolism in dyslipidemic insulin-resistant rats. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes And Essential Fatty Acids89(5), 279-289.

    • Poudyal, H., Panchal, S., Waanders, J., Ward, L., & Brown, L. (2012). Lipid redistribution by α-linolenic acid-rich chia seed inhibits stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 and induces cardiac and hepatic protection in diet-induced obese rats. The Journal Of Nutritional Biochemistry23(2), 153-162.

    • Rajaram, S. (2014). Health benefits of plant-derived α-linolenic acid. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100, Supplement 1, 443S-448S.

    • Roos, B. D., Geelen, A., Ross, K., Rucklidge, G., Reid, M., Duncan, G., Brouwer, I. A. (2008). Identification of potential serum biomarkers of inflammation and lipid modulation that are altered by fish oil supplementation in healthy volunteers. Proteomics,8(10), 1965-1974.

    • Stark, A. H., Crawford, M. A., & Reifen, R. (2008). Update on alpha-linolenic acid. Nutrition Reviews,66(6), 326-332.

    • Toscano, L., da Silva, C., Toscano, L., de Almeida, A., da Cruz Santos, A., & Silva, A. (2014). Chia Flour Supplementation Reduces Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Subjects. Plant Foods For Human Nutrition69(4), 392-398.

    • Vuksan, V., Jenkins, A., Dias, A., Lee, A., Jovanovski, E., Rogovik, A., & Hanna, A. (2010). Reduction in postprandial glucose excursion and prolongation of satiety: possible explanation of the long-term effects of whole grain Salba (Salvia Hispanica L.). European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition64(4), 436-438.

    • Vuksan, V., Whitham, D., Sievenpiper, J., Jenkins, A., Rogovik, A., & Bazinet, R. et al. (2007). Supplementation of Conventional Therapy With the Novel Grain Salba (Salvia hispanica L.) Improves Major and Emerging Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes: Results of a randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Care30(11), 2804-2810.

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