Chia oil is derived from the Salvia hispanica plant, also called the chia plant. This flowering herb is native to Central America and is prized for its seeds, which contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Oil made from these seeds can be used both as a nutritional supplement and for skin care. It is available in a number of forms, though the most popular ones are capsules and liquid. There are also several products with similar health benefits, though they differ in terms of sourcing, nutrition, and taste.
The main aspect that people tend to focus on with chia oil is omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that is necessary for a proper metabolism and is associated with a number of other health benefits. This oil is also a source of several vitamins, including vitamin B1, B2, and B3, as well as a number of important minerals, including phosphorus, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, molybdenum, niacin, magnesium, and copper. Additionally, it contains the chemical boron, which helps the body absorb calcium. It is also gluten-free, low in sodium, and low in cholesterol.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in chia oil are thought to be beneficial for a wide array of health issues; one of the most important and well-known benefit is improved cardiovascular health. Scientists have determined that unsaturated fatty acids can lower cholesterol and prevent high blood pressure. Research shows that this supplement also aids in boosting immune system functions, helps prevent cancer and diabetes, relieves depression and joint stiffness, and improves memory. It can also help the body to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. Chia oil in general is high in antioxidants, which can combat free radicals and help prevent the signs of aging. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, and can be applied topically to re-hydrate the skin, fingernails, and hair, and can also soothe inflammation and itching.
Since chia oil contains high amounts of Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA) — a type of omega-3 acid — is it not advisable for those with a risk of prostate cancer to eat a lot of it, as excess ALA consumption may be linked with this condition. Oil made from some types of chia can also raise blood triglyceride levels, which can be dangerous in those who already have too much of this type of fat. Additionally, as chia oil can lower blood pressure, it's not suitable for those who already have too-low blood pressure.
Dosing and Usage
As a supplement, this oil can be taken in several ways. It can be purchased as a bottle of liquid, or as capsules. A common dosage is one teaspoon (10ml) per day, but this varies from person to person, depending on how much omega-6 a person is getting per day, and how much omega-3 he or she is getting from other sources. It's not suitable for pan cooking, but can be used in baking, though most people consume it cold. People can also eat or cook with whole seeds, which offers an additional health benefit of high-quality dietary fiber. Before opening, a bottle of chia oil should be stored in a cool, dry place away from odors; after opening it should be refrigerated, and can generally last for up to a year.
Fish oil and flax seed oil are other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but chia oil has several advantages. It contains the same omega-3 fatty acids in greater quantities, and is cheaper than flax seed or fish oil. Since it is derived from a plant source, it is a more attractive supplement than fish oil for vegetarians and people who prefer plant extracts. It also has little taste, in contrast to the strong taste of some fish oil supplements. Additionally, it is free of the mercury found in some fish and fish oil supplements.