A new randomised controlled trial has found that supplementing with chia seeds may aid weight loss and lower inflammation in overweight patients with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers in Canada compared the weight loss effects of two different calorie-restricted diets: one including 30 g of chia seeds per day and another supplemented daily with 36 g of oat bra, which served as the control group.
They assigned 58 participants to either one of the diets and had them consult with a dietitian at two weeks and then every six weeks for six months, as well as keep food records to ensure compliance.
After six months, participants in the chia seed group exhibited greater improvements in the levels of an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein, body weight, and waist circumference.
Participants assigned to chia seeds lost 1.9 kg on average, albeit a modest amount of weight, but those on oat bran only saw a reduction in body weight of 0.3 kg.
The change in waist circumference was slightly more significant, with a reduction of 3.5 cm around the middle for people receiving chia seeds, compared to 1.1 cm in the control group.
In terms of results for C-reactive protein, chia seed supplementation resulted in a decrease in levels by 1.1 mg/l, which is a notable but smaller reduction than what was previously found.
Previous RCTs also suggested that chia seeds showed effectiveness in reducing HbA1c, however, no differences in glucose control measures were reported in this new study.
Chia may provide weight loss benefits by increasing levels of adiponecti, a protein involved in the breakdown of fat. Participants taking chia had a 6.5 per cent increase in adiponectin levels.
The beneficial effects of chia seeds could also come directly from their high α-linolenic acid (ALA) content. ALA is a precursor omega-3 that the body converts to the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, otherwise found in fish oils.
Research suggests that high levels of ALA can help reduce fat mass, and chia seeds have been shown to raise ALA levels up to 138 per cent above baseline after supplementing with 25 g a day for seven weeks.
There is also evidence that high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in general can lead to decreases in fat tissue and chronic inflammation, which both play a role in obesity and type 2 diabetes.

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