Are chia seeds good for you? – study

Science and Health

In a groundbreaking achievement, scientists at Oregon State University have successfully sequenced the genome of the chia plant, offering a comprehensive blueprint that could revolutionize future research by harnessing this remarkable plant’s nutritional and health benefits.

Published in a recent paper, the researchers delved into the molecular intricacies of chia genes, identifying specific genes associated with enhancing nutrition and sought-after properties for potential pharmaceutical applications.

The study sheds light on the potential of genetic data mining, with a particular focus on addressing various health conditions, including cancer and high blood pressure. Chia seeds have garnered widespread attention in recent years due to their significant nutritional value.

How the chia genome impacts human health

While others have previously sequenced the chia genome, this paper stands out for providing a more detailed molecular examination, emphasizing the potential applications in human health.

Pankaj Jaiswal, a professor at Oregon State’s Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, expressed the significance of this research, stating, “This research opens up possibilities for scientists to study chia seed through the lens of improving human health while at the same time continuing to further our knowledge of all the nutritional benefits of chia.”

Chia seeds (credit: PANKAJ JAISWAL)

The researchers hope that their findings will stimulate interest in cultivating chia in Oregon, where climate conditions are conducive to its growth, akin to the regions in South America where chia is primarily cultivated. The success of growing chia in regions like Kentucky has inspired optimism about its potential in Oregon.

Chia, considered an orphan or minor crop, has not received the same scientific attention as major crops like rice and wheat. However, the researchers argue that diversifying the human diet by breeding and improving nutrient-rich minor crops like chia is essential for long-term food and nutrition security.


Sushma Naithani, an associate professor at Oregon State, highlighted the importance of such minor crops, especially in the face of increasing global demand for nutrient-rich orphan crops like chia, millets, and yams. In addition to their nutritional benefits, these crops can thrive on marginal land unsuitable for traditional grain crops, contributing to climate change mitigation.

Chia seeds, known for their small, round shape and varying colors, are rich in fiber, healthy fats, and proteins. They are commonly incorporated into recipes for smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes, and granola bars.

Previous research has highlighted various health benefits associated with chia seeds, including the improvement of cardiovascular health, stabilization of blood glucose levels in type-2 diabetes patients, and potential applications in treating cancer and high blood pressure. Additionally, water-soaked chia seeds have unique properties that find applications in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products.

Parul Gupta, a research associate in the Jaiswal laboratory and the paper’s main author, emphasized the identification of genes that could aid agricultural researchers in breeding chia with enhanced traits valuable for human health.