Supplementation of Milled Chia Seeds Increases Plasma ALA and EPA in Postmenopausal Women

January 1, 2012 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

Supplementation of Milled Chia Seeds Increases Plasma ALA and EPA in Postmenopausal Women

Year: 2012
Authors: Nieman, D.C. Sha, W. Xie, G. Qiu, Y. Jia, W.
Publication Name: Plant Foods Hum Nutr
Publication Details: Volume 67; Pages 105�110


Ten postmenopausal women (age 55.6 plus/minus 0.8years, BMI 24.6 plus/minus 1.1 kg/m2) ingested 25 g/day milled chia seed during a 7 week period, with six plasma samples collected for measurement of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Subjects operated as their own controls with overnight fasted blood samples taken at baseline (average of two samples), and then after 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 weeks supplementation. Plasma ALA increased significantly after one week supplementation and was 138% above baseline levels by the end of the study (overall time effect, P less than 0.001). EPA increased 30 % above baseline (overall time effect, P equal 0.019) and was correlated across time with ALA (r equal 0.84, P equal 0.02). No significant change in plasma DPA levels was measured (overall time effect, P equal 0.067). Plasma DHA decreased slightly by the end of the study (overall time effect, P equal 0.030) and was not correlated with change in ALA. In conclusion, ingestion of 25 g/day milled chia seeds for seven weeks by postmenopausal women resulted in significant increases in plasma ALA and EPA but not DPA and DHA. (Authors abstract)
Chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) is an oilseed native to southern Mexico and northern Guatemala [8�11]. Chia seed has up to 4.11g ALA, 6.73 g carbohydrates, 6.05 g protein, 141 kcal calories and 7.55 g of dietary fiber per 25 g serving. The objective of the present study was to measure sequential plasma fatty acid responses to 7 weeks supplementation with milled chia seeds in ten postmenopausal women. Postmenopausal women consuming 25 g/day of milled chia seeds for seven weeks experienced significant increases in plasma ALA and EPA, but not DPA and DHA.  The increase in plasma ALA with milled chia seed consumption occurred within the first week, and increased 138 % above baseline levels by the end of the study. The increase in plasma EPA was smaller proportionately (30 %), but was correlated across time with ALA. Other studies using flaxseed supplements report plasma ALA increases of 40 to 160 %. In a previous study with whole chia seeds (soaked 10 min in water), overnight fasted plasma ALA increased 24.4 %. The greater increase measured in the present study may be related to several factors including the use of a milled chia seed supplement, a more homogeneous subject group, and tighter diet control. In a previous study using flaxseed supplements, subjects receiving milled compared to whole flaxseed had significantly higher levels of plasma ALA. These results suggest that ALA is more easily incorporated into human plasma from milled oil seeds (chia or flaxseed) than from whole seeds. Plasma EPA increased 30 % above baseline levels in the present study, but individuals varied widely both pre-study and in response to milled chia seed supplementation. These data support previous findings that the metabolic distribution of ALA (i.e., tissue incorporation, EPA conversion, and energy substrate) varies substantially between individuals. Chia seed supplementation was not associated with significant increases in plasma DPA or DHA in our postmenopausal female subjects. Most previous studies report limited conversion of ALA to DPA in both men and women, and no conversion of ALA to DHA in men. Young women and postmenopausal women who are receiving hormone replacement treatment may convert ALA to DHA better than other subgroups. In summary, plasma ALA and EPA, but not DPA or DHA, increased significantly in 10 postmenopausal women after taking 25 g milled chia seeds per day for seven weeks.  A cardioprotective effect of high, long term ALA intake has been suggested by a number of epidemiological studies, and an additive effect of ALA with n3 long chain PUFA from fish and fish oil has been observed. (Editors comments)

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