Long-term Chia Seed Supplementation May Significantly Lower Systolic Blood Pressure

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Chia seeds are a nutrient dense product that are rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and could have a hypocholesterolemic effect when ingested.

Chia seed supplementation was associated with significant improvement in certain metabolic health factors, according to a recent systematic review and meta-analysis of more than a dozen randomized clinical trials published in the Journal of Functional Foods. Long-term consumption of a chia seed supplement (25 grams or more/daily) demonstrated significant effects on systolic blood pressure (SBP).

“In fact, over an extended period, the cumulative effects of the bioactive compounds, such as omega-3 fatty acids and fiber in chia products might become more pronounced,” study authors wrote in the article.

Chia is an herbaceous plant with nutrient-dense seeds. In fact, the seeds are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The current literature suggests that chia seed products can improve insulin resistance, glucose tolerance, and obesity, and there’s promising evidence that it could be hypoglycemic and hypotensive, as well as improve blood lipids.

Chia is an herbaceous plant with nutrient-dense seeds. Image Credit: © happy_lark - stock.adobe.com

Chia is an herbaceous plant with nutrient-dense seeds. Image Credit: © happy_lark - stock.adobe.com

This systematic review and meta-analysis of 14 randomized clinical trials (729 participants total) aimed to provide more insight into the anthropometric and metabolic factors that chia seed supplementation might act on.

Researchers observed that participants who received supplementation showed significant improvement across many metabolic factors, including SBP (SMD = −0.41; 95% CI: −0.59, −0.22), diastolic blood pressure (DBP; SMD = −0.41; 95% CI: −0.65, −0.17), total cholesterol (TC; SMD = −0.30; 95% CI: −0.48, −0.13), LDL cholesterol (LDL-C ;SMD = −0.30; 95% CI: −0.50, −0.11), and triglycerides (TG; SMD = −0.20; 95% CI: −0.38, −0.02), compared to placebo or control groups. However, the supplement did not largely impact anthropometric measures or inflammatory markers.

In a subgroup analysis, chia supplementation was most effective on SBP when a patient had been taking it for more than 10 weeks and took it at a dose of 25 mg/day, and this could indicate that time and dose are important. Yet supplementation with a dose below 25 mg/day and for 10 weeks was linked to better DBP, TC, and LDL-C markers; these findings may reflect the differences in study design and subgroup analyses.

In most of the studies analyzing chia supplementation, a study limitation was heterogeneity in study duration, supplement dose, and participants. In addition, there has been a limited number of studies with a small sample size. Finally, metabolic effects can be impacted by different factors aside from supplementation.

According to the study authors, chia may also be beneficial to metabolic health because it contains a significant amount of fiber (95% of which is insoluble), which can improve satiety and health. It might also have hypocholesterolemic effects, and the seeds contain proteins that inhibit markers of cholesterol synthesis. Further, the omega-3s can help to reduce fatty acid oxidation.

Further research suggests that chia seed supplementation could benefit patients with hypertension, or even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. For this reason, the study authors note that more studies should be done on this supplement.

“The findings of this systematic review and meta-analysis can provide valuable insights to health care professionals, policymakers, and researchers, guiding future research and interventions related to chia product supplementation,” the study authors wrote.

Reference

Nikpayam O, Jafari A, Safaei E, et al. Effect of chia product supplement on anthropometric measures, blood pressure, glycemic-related parameters, lipid profile and inflammatory indicators: A systematic and meta-analysis. J of Fun Foods; 110(2023). doi:10.1016/j.jff.2023.105867.

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