What food has seeds
Chia seeds - how healthy are the alleged superfoods really?
What's behind the advertisement for Chia?
Chia seeds are hailed as a "superfood". With their fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acid content, they are said to outshine conventional foods, while the seeds are said to aid digestion and regulate blood sugar. They are also said to relieve joint pain and heartburn. In women's magazines, chia is touted as the supposed secret recipe for healthy skin and a slim figure.
Chia promotional claims that promise to alleviate health problems are not permitted in conjunction with food. There are currently no health claims approved by the EU for chia products. It is only allowed with the high Fiber content of the seeds because, with 34 grams (g) of fiber per 100 g of seeds, they contain more than the required minimum of 6 g of fiber per 100 g. Due to the low maximum daily intake of only 15 grams, the bottom line is just 17 percent of the daily fiber intake of 30 grams recommended by the German Nutrition Society.
In the case of chia seeds, attention is often drawn to the high proportion of omega-3 fatty acids. However, these are only available to the body if the seed (as with flaxseed) has been ground or chewed very well. Capsules, on the other hand, usually contain pure chia oil. 2/3 of this consists of the omega-3 fatty acid α-linolenic acid (ALA). The Daily amount for oil is limited to 2 g.
Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy and essential to life in small amounts. The German Nutrition Society recommends taking in 0.5 percent of daily calories from omega-3 fatty acids such as ALA. At 2400 kilocalories (kcal), this corresponds to around 1.3 g of ALA, contained in one tablespoon of rapeseed oil. An additional supply in the form of capsules is not necessary, even if little or no fish is eaten.
What should I look out for when using chia products?
- who not pre-soaked chia seeds eats, must definitely drink plenty. Otherwise it can lead to a potentially dangerous blockage. The daily intake of 15 g should not be exceeded.
- If you Chia capsules want to take, should pay attention to the consumption recommendation of the manufacturer. The daily amount has been limited by law to 2 g of chia oil per day.
- There is evidence that some people do allergic respond to chia seeds. Chia belongs to the mint plants, like mint, thyme, rosemary or sage. Anyone who reacts to one of these plants or to mustard should be careful.
- It may interact with blood thinning medicines (Warfarin / Coumadin®, acetylsalicylic acid / ASA / aspirin). Anyone taking such medications should definitely discuss the use of chia capsules with their doctor or pharmacist.
What is chia?
Chia is an annual herbaceous summer plant from the mint family. Its botanical name is Salvia hispanica L. The seeds of the plant, which originally comes from Mexico and are planted in many Latin American countries, can be eaten raw or dried or added to drinks. In the USA, Canada and Australia they have been used both whole and ground for a number of years - for example as a component of bread and for the production of oil. Due to the high swelling capacity (binds 25 times the amount of water) they also serve as a basis for vegan pudding or thick smoothies and can be used as an egg or fat substitute for baking.
The European Commission first approved a maximum of 5% chia seeds for bread and rolls in November 2009. Chia seeds can now also be used as an independent prepackaged food (daily portion 15 g), as an ingredient in baked goods, cereal muesli, nut and fruit mixes (up to 10%), fruit spreads (up to 1%), yoghurt (up to 1.3 g per 100 g), ready meals (up to 5%) as well as fruit juices or fruit juice drinks and mixtures with vegetable juices (up to 15 g / day) are sold. There must always be a note on the packaging that a daily intake of 15 g of chia seeds must not be exceeded. This amount is considered to be harmless to health; however, long-term studies are still lacking - for example on possible allergic reactions.
Since December 2014, cold-pressed chia oil (Salvia hispanica) can also be used as a novel food ingredient in vegetable oils and dietary supplements. There are also quantity restrictions for this: a maximum of 10 percent chia oil in vegetable oils and a maximum of 2 g chia oil per day in food supplements and as pure chia oil.
Which ingredients are contained in chia seeds or oil?
Chia seeds consist of around 20 percent protein, 30 percent fat and up to 40 percent carbohydrates. The daily amount of 15 g, which should not be exceeded, contains a good 5 g of fiber and 2.7 g of ALA. Chia oil must contain at least 60 percent alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and 15-20 percent linoleic acid.
Are chia seeds contaminated with harmful substances?
There is usually no information about the growing conditions of chia seeds when buying them. In any case, they are not really natural. In its 2005 safety assessment, EFSA made two important points. On the one hand, the seeds are treated with plant hormones in order to synchronize germination. On the other hand, the soil is freed from weeds before sowing with a soil herbicide (trifluralin), which has been banned in Europe since 2007. However, this is prohibited with organically grown chia seeds.
Most recently, chia seeds contaminated with carcinogenic mold toxins (aflatoxin) were reported in the European rapid alert system RASFF.
Instead of resorting to expensive omega-3-containing special products without medical advice, it makes more sense to eat a portion of fish, preferably fatty sea fish, once or twice a week and, depending on your taste, to use rapeseed, walnut, linseed or soybean oil .
Small amounts of walnuts every day are also recommended.
This information was created as part of a nutrition project funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
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