Is Chia Seed Good For Diabetes? (11 Benefits & Risks)

If you’re diabetic, you may be wondering if chia seed is good for diabetes. The answer to that question is a little complicated. Chia seeds have some benefits for people with diabetes, but they also have some potential risks. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of eating chia seeds if you have diabetes. So, is chia seed good for diabetes? Read on to find out!

Is Chia Seed Good For Diabetes

Yes, chia seed is good for diabetics for several reasons. It is an excellent source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and both of these nutrients can help reduce blood sugar spikes and improve the uptake of insulin in diabetes. Fiber can also help you feel full longer, which can curb overeating.

Are chia seeds high glycemic?

Although chia seed is high in carbs, it has a low glycemic index (GI). The GI of chia seeds is only 4, which puts it into the category of “low-GI foods” recommended for diabetics. Carbohydrates that have a low GI are slowly digested and absorbed, which keeps blood sugar levels under control,

Do chia seeds raise blood sugar?

Consuming Chia Seeds in moderate amounts is unlikely to significantly impact your blood glucose levels. On the contrary, many studies have proven that it can help control blood sugar levels in diabetics.

An interesting study was conducted in 2019 on the effect of chia seeds on glycemic control and lipid profile in diabetic patients. The study lasted eight weeks, during which 44 type 2 diabetes patients were randomly divided into two groups. One group was given 30g of chia seed every day; the other got a placebo instead. The results were really interesting – after eight weeks, people who had taken chia seeds showed significant reductions in fasting blood glucose and serum insulin levels. On top of that, total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol were also reduced.

Health benefits of Chia Seeds in Diabetes

Chia seeds may not be “magic bullets,” but they have some potential benefits for people with diabetes.

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#1: Chia seeds slow down digestion and can help control blood sugar levels

The main reason why chia seed is good for diabetics is its high fiber content. This study on diabetic rats proved that the soluble fibers found in chia seeds help reduce their glycemic response. Plus, a human study on pre-diabetic obese subjects showed that adding chia seeds to a meal led to significant reductions in post-meal plasma glucose and insulin levels.

#2: Chia seeds can help you feel fuller for a longer period

The fact that chia seed is high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats makes it an excellent choice for satiety.

In a study by the University of Guelph in Canada, researchers found that chia seed effectively reduced hunger levels and boosted fullness for a total of 2.5 hours after consumption. The participants in this study were overweight women who took two tablespoons (30 ml) of chia seeds each day for 12 weeks.

#3: Chia seeds can improve blood lipid profile

High cholesterol levels are closely linked to type 2 diabetes. High total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides are risk factors for developing this disease.

One ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fiber, about 40% of the daily recommended intake. Eating fiber-rich foods like these can help lower your cholesterol levels and improve heart health.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that people with type 2 diabetes who consumed 50 grams of chia seeds daily for six weeks experienced a significant increase in their level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. HDL is often referred to as “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL — the “bad” cholesterol — from your body.

A study published in 2018 on type 2 diabetics showed that the addition of chia seed to a meal led to significant reductions in both serum LDL and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

#4: Chia seeds can help control blood sugar after meals

Yes, the fiber and protein in chia seed can help slow down digestion and absorption of nutrients, and this is especially important after a meal. Consuming chia seeds will lead to slower and more controlled blood sugar spikes after eating.

#5: Chia seed can reduce food cravings

When trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, cravings for junk food and snacks can be a big problem.

Cravings for sweets and salty foods are common in people with diabetes — this may occur due to the fluctuations of blood sugar levels.

A 2015 study showed that eating chia seeds reduced food cravings by 60% in people with type 2 diabetes.

#6: Chia seeds may help prevent insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is a key step on the road to type 2 diabetes, and it’s when your body stops responding to insulin – a hormone that controls blood sugar levels.

Having elevated blood sugar levels for a long time can lead to insulin resistance.

A study published in 2015 showed that the daily consumption of chia seed over eight weeks among type 2 diabetics improved their fasting glucose, triglyceride, and VLDL cholesterol levels. It also reduced plasma insulin levels by 20%.

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#7: Chia seeds may help reduce oxidative stress

Oxidative stress occurs when your body’s production of free radicals (atoms or molecules with unpaired electrons) increases significantly. It creates a state where you have too many harmful free radicals in the body, damaging cells and tissue.

The antioxidant compounds found in chia seeds may help neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress. This, in turn, may slow down the progression of type 2 diabetes.

#8: Chia seeds may help lower blood pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.

A 2016 study showed that chia seed supplementation could help reduce arterial stiffness by about 5% in women with diabetes. After 12 weeks of supplementation, there was also a decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

#9: Chia seeds may improve skin health

The fatty acids found in chia seeds can help nourish the skin from the inside out. This is because these fats are easily absorbed by the body to produce longer-lasting energy and maintain your body’s functions.

#10: Chia seeds can lower stress levels

Chia seed is a great source of magnesium, which has been found to help reduce cortisol levels in the body — a hormone associated with stress and high blood pressure.

A study published in 2008 showed that stressed-out people who took 500 milligrams of magnesium daily for four months had a significant reduction in cortisol levels. Participants also noted decreased perceived stress and anxiety after taking chia seed.

#11: Chia seeds can improve the health of your hair and nails

They are a rich source of folic acid, or vitamin B9, needed for good hair and nails. Chia seed can provide your body with about 100 times more folic acid per serving than other plant foods like spinach or broccoli.

Calcium, another mineral found in chia seed, is necessary for the growth and development of healthy hair and nails.

A 2009 study on rats showed that supplementing their diet with chia seed daily over 90 days produced stronger bones and teeth due to increased calcium content. It also improved collagen synthesis — a protein that helps connect tissue and bone.

#12: Chia seeds may lower inflammation in the body

Chia seed contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids — a type of essential fat that your body can’t produce on its own.

It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory food because it directly reduces the production of inflammatory markers in joints.

The journal Rheumatology published a study that showed an omega-three supplement significantly reduced arthritis pain and stiffness among rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. The recommended daily dose was 4 grams of fish oil that contained 2.7 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.

Who should avoid chia seeds?

Who should avoid chia seeds

Chia seeds are considered safe for most people.

However, there are a few cases where people should avoid them:

If you have a fish or seafood allergy, do not take chia seeds as they contain omega-3 fatty acids that can trigger an allergic reaction. If you’re prone to allergies, it’s best to consult your physician before taking chia seeds.

People on blood-thinning medications should only consume chia seeds after consulting with their doctor. Chia seeds may increase your risk of bleeding or bruising.

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People on medications such as diuretics (water pills), ACE inhibitors, and beta-blockers should speak to their doctor before taking chia seeds.

Eating too many chia seeds can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea in some people.

How much chia seeds should a diabetic eat daily?

Chia seeds are a good source of fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. They also have a low glycemic index, which means they don’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels. For people with diabetes, it’s recommended to eat 1 ounce of chia seeds per day.

How do diabetics use chia seeds?

Chia seeds are easy to incorporate into your daily diet. They can be added to yogurt, cereal or smoothies, or used in baking or cooking.

If you’re using chia seeds as an egg substitute, mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes until a gel forms. Substitute each egg in your recipe with one-quarter cup of the gel.

You can also make your muesli from scratch by mixing chia seeds, oatmeal, cinnamon, and fruit in a bowl. Then, add your favorite milk and enjoy!

If you want to make chia pudding, soak 1/4 cup of chia seeds in 3 tablespoons of water overnight.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup of soy or almond milk with one teaspoon of vanilla extract and a packet of stevia or Truvia.

Add the chia seed gel to the milk mixture and enjoy!

You can also buy an assortment of chia seed products at your local grocery store. This includes oil, seeds, chocolate bars, cakes, breads, puddings, and more.

When is the best time to eat chia seeds?

According to dietitians, chia seeds are most nutritious eaten in the morning. The inner mucilage can provide a nice soothing feeling on a fiber-less stomach, and the Omega oils and protein will keep you full for many hours, so it is best to eat them first thing before food enters your stomach. Additionally, this practice helps to ensure that you have enough nutrition available during the day for your brain and body and support optimal digestion throughout the rest of mealtimes.

It is also important not to overindulge as excessive amounts of Omega oils can suppress appetite, which could lead to nutritional deficiencies or weight gain due to just overeating or eating too much-refined sugar since those foods don’t require any insulin production from our pancreas like

Can chia seeds be taken empty stomach?

Answer: Yes. It’s a good idea to take chia seeds on an empty stomach because they’ll digest more easily that way. When you eat chia seeds with food, they form a gel-like substance in your stomach that can slow down digestion and make you feel full longer.

Conclusion

Chia seeds are a good food option for people with diabetes. They have a low glycemic index, so they don’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels, and they have fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.

They have numerous benefits like weight loss, healthy skin and hair, heart health, balanced blood sugar levels, and increased energy.

We highly recommend incorporating chia seeds into your diet if you haven’t already. Let us know your favorite seeds in the comments and why you love them.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3762696/

https://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2010/r101022.html

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316523460_Watch_it_grow_Esophageal_impaction_with_chia_seeds

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnme/2012/184710/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2584181/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3762696/

Dr Sharon Baisil MD

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