A new study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, highlights the potential benefits of ALA essential fatty acids found in chia seeds. The study was conducted by the University of North Carolina and Appalachian State, in which, postmenopausal women were supplemented with 2 TBS of chia seeds for 7 weeks. The result was a 138% increase in blood ALA levels and a 30% increase in EPA blood levels.
This is significant for a number of reasons. Its long been known omega-3’s have a very important role in the human body, benefiting cardiovascular and neurological health, healing inflammation markers in the body and protecting against autoimmune disease. However, it is unknown which of the three critical omega-3’s, ALA, EPA & DHA, are most important. ALA is an essential fatty acid that the body can not make. Typically 8-20% of ALA consumed is converted to EPA within the body, leading scientist to believe that the health benefits of omega-3’s must lie in the more readily available EPA and DHA versions. The University of North Carolina Study shows that post-menopausal women are converting the ALA in chia seeds at much higher rates than previous studies suggest.
More research is needed to determine the reason behind this finding which suggests that ALA is just as beneficial as EPA and DHA. Researchers at UNC concluded that it either has to do with the chia seeds themselves – its high antioxidant potency could be a reason for the higher conversion – or the chemical make up and hormones of post-menopausal women, that influenced the higher conversion. Chia is one of the richest sources of ALA omega-3s available.
In numerous studies, research has shown that healthy women between the age of 18-35 convert ALA into EPA at 2.5 the rate of healthy men the same age. If it is determined that the ALA essential fatty acids in chia seeds are more bioavailable than other sources, chia may become a very important food supplement for women who are trying to conceive, pregnant or nursing. Omega-3s are critically important to the development of a fetus and the nourishment of an infant.
Chosen Foods grows their chia in its birthplace of Central Mexico, where the volcanic soil and perfect climate foster a nutrient dense, high omega seed. We continually test our chia’s omega values against others grown in different parts of the world and are proud to offer chia with some of the highest omega values available on the market.