Chia Seeds and Your Lipid Levels: Is There a Link?

Chia Seeds
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Chia (Salvia hispanica L) is a type of plant that is a member of the mint family and is mostly grown in countries such as Colombia and Guatemala. The seed derived from this plant is commonly used in many types of foods—including breads, cereals, and other dishes—as well as consumed alone.

Chia seeds have become a popular food in recent years due to a variety of factors. Although chia seeds are mostly known for contributing to the popular gift, the Chia pet, they are also high in many nutrients— including soluble fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, minerals, and B vitamins.

The health benefits of consuming chia seeds have also been looked at in certain medical conditions, such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Can including chia seeds in your diet also help keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels healthy?

Chia Seeds and Your Lipids

There are only a few, small studies out there that have looked at how chia seed consumption affects cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These studies mostly looked at people who had diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or were classified as overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of least 25 and more. These studies lasted anywhere from 10 to 14 weeks in people who were also following a healthy diet—in addition to consuming anywhere between 25 and 50 grams of milled or whole chia seeds daily.

Most studies revealed that including chia seeds did not significantly improve LDL, HDL, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. On the other hand, a couple of studies showed that chia seeds were able to significantly lower triglyceride levels.

However, one of these studies also used chia seeds in a mixture with soy and oatmeal—two foods that have also been shown to help improve lipid levels.

Should You Include Chia Seeds in Your Diet?

Because of their nutritional value and health benefits, chia seeds have been making more appearances on grocery and health food store shelves.

But if you’re looking at chia seeds to help lower your lipid levels, the verdict is still out as to whether or not they can be beneficial in keeping your cholesterol and triglyceride levels in check.

Even though more studies are needed in this area, chia seeds are high in soluble fiber and the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid—both heart-healthy ingredients that can help keep your lipid levels in check. Because of this, chia seeds may be included in a diet to lower your cholesterol and triglycerides. Chia seeds can be included in a variety of foods, including:

  • Mixing chia seeds into whole grain pancakes or muffins.
  • Tossing in a handful of chia seeds into your morning cereal, yogurt, or oatmeal.
  • Tossing chia seeds into your favorite smoothie for breakfast.
  • Adding them to your soup or salad as a delicious topping.
  • Mixing chia seeds into your granola or other healthy snack

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to include nutritious chia seeds into your lipid-lowering diet. However, along with the healthy fat content that they possess, chia seeds are also a little high in calories—especially if you use a large amount of them.

So, as with any type of food, consume them in moderation.


Chicco AG, D’Alessandro ME, Hein GJ et al. Dietary chia seed (Salvia hispanica L) rich in alpha linolenic acid improves adiposity and normalizes hypertriacylglycerolaemia and insulin resistance in dyslipaemic rats. Br J Nutr 2009;101:41-50.

Ferreira C, Fomes L, DaSlilva S et al. Effect of chia seed (Salvia hispanica L) consumption on cardiovascular risk factors in humans: a systematic review. Nutr Hosp 2015;32:1909-1918.

Nieman DC, Cayea EJ, Austin MD et al. Chia seed does not promote weight loss or alter disease risk factors in overweight adults. Nutr Res 2009:414-418.

Tavares Toscano L, Tavares Toscano L, Tavares R et al. Chia induces clinically discrete weight loss and improves lipid profile only in altered previous values. Nutr Hosp 2015;31:1176-1182.

Vuksan V, Whitam D, Sievenpiper JL, et al. Supplementation of conventional therapy with the novel grain salba (Salvia hispanica L) improves major and emerging cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2007;30:2804-2811.

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