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W. Coates and R. Ayerza (h)

 Southwest Center for Natural Products Research and Commercialization, Office of Arid Lands Studies, The University of Arizona, Arizona, USA


Coronary heart disease is a major health problem in the western world. A number of research studies have determined that diet can significantly reduce an individual’s propensity to suffer from this disease as well as a number of other diseases. Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids has been shown as one way to reduce these risks. Chia (Salvia hispanica L.), an oilseed rich in w– 3 a– linolenic fatty acid, has recently been commercialized as a crop in South America.

The objective of this preliminary study was to determine the effects of eating chia could have on blood composition for people with high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.

For the study, 16 subjects were selected. One group consumed 28 g of chia seed each day, the other a placebo. Duration of the trial was 28 days. Twenty days prior to initiating the trial, all subjects stopped taking all other medications, which were being administered for the purpose of regulating blood composition. Blood cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels were measured at that time, and then again the day before the subject began consuming chia. Blood samples were also drawn at the end of the trial.

Results were inconclusive. Significant differences in mean cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglyceride values between the two groups were not detected. An analysis of covariance, however, showed that HDL and triglyceride levels were different between groups, with the difference favoring the consumption of chia.

Clearly, additional studies using either a larger population or less diverse group of individuals are needed to verify the effects that chia consumption can have on blood composition.

Southwest Center for Natural Products Research and Commercialization, Office of Arid Lands Studies, The University of Arizona, 250 E. Valencia Rd., AZ 85706, USA. Tel: 520-741-0840. Fax: 520-7411468. E-mail:

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