Chia Seeds and other Seeds Part 1 - Overview

What are the purpose and scope of this project?

We have allocated one month to carry out research into chia seeds and other seeds that have a high omega 3 (n-3) content.

We aim, using published scientific research, to answer a series of questions relating to the role that four different n-3 rich seed types can perform in our diet.

Seed oils derived from all four seed types are available. These are covered briefly in the Supplements and Oils project.

Read about the benefits of seed oils in the Supplements and Oils project

What types of n-3 rich seeds are available?

All four of the seed types that we examine contain high levels of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and, in common with other vegetarian sources of n-3 PUFAs, they do not contain EPA and DHA. The highly unsaturated long chain derivatives of ALA are only found in fish, algae and, to a lesser extent, meat and dairy products.

Chia Seeds

Chia has a fascinating history of cultivation in Mesoamerica up until the time of the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century, when it was virtually stamped out. Cultivation of chia as a food crop in significant quantities was only resumed in South America and Australia towards the end of the twentieth century.

The seeds of the chia plant have many advantages as a source of ALA, providing other important nutritional components and offering a high level of practicality.

Go to Part 2 - Chia Seeds

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are comparable to chia seeds in several ways. The history of their cultivation, however, centers around the Middle East rather than Mesoamerica and their use as food in ancient diets does not seem to be as well supported.

While flax seeds do not offer quite the same level of practicality as their chia counterparts, they are one of the few rich sources of potentially beneficial lignans.

Go to Part 3 - Flax Seeds

Perilla Seeds and Sacha Inchi Seeds

Perilla has been cultivated for many centuries in Asia and the seeds feature in Korean cuisine. Sacha inchi, like chia, is found in South America, where its seeds are valued as a food.

Because scientific research studies relating to the nutritional aspects of perilla seeds and sacha inchi seeds are sparse, we present only a high level treatment of these promising foods.

Go to Part 4 - Perilla Seeds and Sacha Inchi Seeds

What research material have we consulted for this project?

We have listed the research article citations and books on a separate page.

Go to Part 5 - Research Material

Return to the Chia Seeds and other Seeds Introduction