Omega‒3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids.

There are three main omega‒3s which are beneficial for human health viz. α‒linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

These are essential fatty acids that can be obtained from the plant as well as animal sources such as fish oil, flaxseed etc.

Omega‒3s have therapeutic importance due to the following properties:

1. They are anti-inflammatory .
2. They enhance cardiovascular health .
3. They prevent type‒2 diabetes .
4. Lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease .
5. Useful for rheumatoid arthritis patients.
6. Treats chronic kidney disease .
7. They act like antioxidants.
8. They modulate immune system .
9. Treats metabolic syndrome .
10. Useful during transplantation of organs .
11. Helps in treating fatty liver disease .
12. Useful for proper fetal development .

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What are chia seeds?

Chia seeds are derived from the chia plant, Salvia hispanica, categorized in mint plant family. The seeds contain 25‒40% oil. They are rich in α‒linolenic acid, a type of omega‒3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

They are composed of protein, fats, carbohydrate, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Chia seeds are also rich in phenolic compounds that act as antioxidants.

7 Proven Benefits of Omega 3s in Chia

Chia seeds are a rich source of omega‒3s. It contains upto68% α‒linolenic acid . It is the highest known percentage of linolenic acid from any plant source. Chia, which used to be a major food crop of Mexico is now cultivated widely for its omega‒3 α‒linolenic acid content.

The fatty acid analyses in a study have shown that chia seed has a high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids which is 623 to 752 g/kg of the total fatty acid of the plant.

However, the levels of omega‒3s decrease with the growth stage of the chia plant. In another study, a comparison of the fatty acid composition of chia seeds, golden and brown flax seeds, white and brown perilla seeds was done.

It was found out that chia seeds have the highest content of omega‒3s out of these seeds that count to approximately 544 mg/g of total lipids . A high content of omega‒3s make chia seeds very beneficial for health.

Omega 3 In Chia Seeds Benefits Your Health

1. It has antioxidant property

Chia seeds contain phenolic compounds such as myricetin, kaempferol and chlorogenic acid which are responsible for antioxidant property .

These natural antioxidants reduce the oxidative damage caused to the body due to the formation of free radicals. This makes consumption of chia seeds a preventive measure for oxidative and inflammatory diseases.

What does this mean?

The antioxidant property of chia seeds gives it a status of functional food that can be regarded as a nutraceutical.

2. It lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome:

The effect of dietary intake of chia seeds on metabolic syndrome has been studied. It was observed that in the patients, serum triglyceride (fat) levels reduced and tolerance to glucose increased on the intake of a dietary pattern that included chia seeds.

Studies on humans indicate that omega‒3 rich chia seeds reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease which is one of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome. 

Omega‒3s alleviates the other risk factors of metabolic syndrome such as diabetes, hypertension, inflammation, and obesity.

In another study, the lipid redistribution by chia seeds has been reported in which oleic acid is accumulated in adipose tissue, linolenic acid preferentially utilized. α‒linolenic acid induces this lipid redistribution which has cardioprotective effects.

It has been shown that dietary intake of chia seeds prevents dyslipidemia (a rise in the levels of triglycerides and lipids) and insulin resistance (resistance to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose) .

Some studies suggest that chia seeds decrease the serum triglyceride content thereby lowering the risk of coronary heart disease .

What does this mean?

The therapeutic importance of chia seeds is very much evident by the fact that it reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome as there is an array of risk factors like cardiovascular dysfunction, diabetes, obesity etc.

3. It promotes good skin health

Chia seeds are rich in vitamins especially tocopherol (vitamin E). Tocopherols are known to decrease skin degradation by promoting skin regenerating action. Polyunsaturated fatty acids present in chia seeds promote skin hydration.

The antioxidant activity of chia seeds may prevent damage to skin cells by free radicals.

It downregulates the action of melanogenic enzymes (enzymes that secrete skin darkening compound, melanin) thereby promoting skin whitening.

What does this mean?

This means that chia seeds maintain good skin health and is important for the cosmetic industry.

4. It benefits postmenopausal women:

After menopause, a woman undergoes a lot of hormonal changes in the body. The quality of menopausal life can be improved by the intake of omega‒3 supplements .

Chia seeds being rich in α‒linolenic acid is useful in maintaining good health in women after menopause. In a study, ten postmenopausal women were made to consume 25g/d chia seeds for seven weeks.

A significant increase in the level of α‒linolenic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid was observed in the blood plasma of these women.

Some researchers have developed a bread formulation containing chia seeds that can act as a functional food for women . This bread has high nutritive value as it contains high protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega‒3) and dietary fiber.

What does this mean?

The intake of chia seeds as a dietary supplement can improve the lifestyle of postmenopausal women.

5. It boosts energy

Omega‒3s have been shown to improve the performance of sports in athletes. This allows athletes to decrease their intake of sugar and increase the intake of chia seeds to boost their energy levels.

It is a means of carbohydrate loading enhancing the performance. The dietary fiber and protein content of chia seeds further help in providing energy to the consumers.

What does this mean?

Omega‒3s can be an efficient energy source and used as an energy booster.

6. It improves the nutritional quality of food

Chia seeds increase the total soluble dietary fiber and mineral content on consumption. Addition of chia seeds increases the level of α‒linolenic acid. Scientists have developed abread using chia seed flour rich in omega‒3 α‒linolenic acid which improves its nutritive value.

The bread is thus rich in protein, dietary fiber, and α‒linolenic acid which makes chia seeds an excellent raw material.

In another study, chia’s by-products were incorporated in hamburgers and its nutritive value was increased. The content of omega‒3s was enhanced to obtain a nutritionally balanced food.

What does this mean?

Addition of chia seeds as a dietary supplement enhances the nutritive value of food.

7. Omega‒3s in chia can fight cancer

Omega‒3s especially α‒linolenic acid inhibits the progression of cancer. Studies have shown that α‒linolenic acid downregulates proliferation of cells in prostate, breast and bladder cancer. Treatment with α‒linolenic acid has been found to inhibit cell proliferation in human cancer cells.

Chia seed oil was found to be effective against mammary gland adenocarcinoma . The cell death (apoptosis) was promoted and proliferation was inhibited.

What does this mean?

Intake of chia seeds has the ability to fight cancer and can be supplemented in daily diet to lower the risk of cancer.

Are omega‒3s in chia seeds really available to the body?

It is clear from various studies that chia seeds are rich in omega‒3 fatty acids. This omega‒3s are available to the body as the concentration of omega‒3s in the blood plasma of the consumer increases.

The bioavailability (the amount which is easily absorbed by the body) of omega‒3s is of utmost importance.

The bioavailability of conjugated linolenic acid was studied and it was found that it is well absorbed as free fatty acids and triacylglycerols . The conversion efficiency of α‒linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is low.

Approximately 8% of α‒linolenic acid is converted to EPA and around 4% to DHA. Hence, EPA and DHA must be incorporated in the diet.

However, the conversion efficiency of α‒linolenic acid to EPA and DHA is higher in women than in men.

The interconversion in young women yielded 21% EPA and 9% DHA. This is due to the presence of estrogen hormone in women which enhances conversion efficiency by upregulating synthesis of DHA.

Therefore the efficacy of conversion of omega3s found in chia seeds to EPA and DHA is something which still needs further investigation.

However, ALA, as well as other nutrients found in chia seeds, are excellent for health benefits.

2 tablespoons of chia seeds provide moderate amounts of nutritional and health benefits.


While chia seeds have been shown to have great benefits, one must first test for any allergic reactions, and not start off with a full-fledged routine inclusive of chia seeds.

It is best to consume soaked chia seeds as they can swell in the throat (if eaten dry) and cause suffocation.


Chia seeds are nutritious seeds which have nutritional and health benefits. They are the richest plant source of α‒linolenic acid, a type of omega‒3 fatty acid, known till date.

The maximum concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids than any other nutrient in chia seeds, making it a supplement majorly rich in omega‒3s. Chia seeds also have antioxidant properties.

Its consumption lowers the risk of various factors leading to metabolic syndrome such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension etc.

It maintains bone health and promotes the process of skin hydration as well as regeneration.

It is a good nutritional source of omega‒3s as it has been found to enhance the level of α‒linolenic acid, protein and dietary fiber in some bread formulations.


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