Chia Seeds & Acne: The Potential of Chia to Prevent Acne Breakouts
In pre-Columbian times, the Aztecs used chia seeds, the tiny mottled seeds of the Salvia hispanica plant, to treat and heal a variety of conditions, including skin problems. Today, chia seeds are making a comeback as a superfood, but little scientific research has been done on the effects of chia seeds on skin problems, including acne. However, the nutrient composition of chia seeds (see Chia Seed: Nutrition Facts) has been extensively researched, and interestingly, many of the nutrients found in chia also pop up on the list of the best nutrients for acne sufferers. Here's a lowdown of the key anti-acne nutrients found in chia seeds:
Along with flaxseed, chia seeds are at the top of the list of plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and population studies have linked diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids to low rates of acne vulgaris. Chia seeds may be a particularly good addition to your anti-acne diet if you are allergic to fish and cannot therefore get your omega-3s from salmon and other types of fatty fish.
Although soaked chia seeds don't contain as much zinc as some other seeds (such as pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds), they can still supply a decent amount of zinc to your diet. Zinc has been shown to reduce acne symptoms, especially in zinc deficient individuals. There is also some evidence suggesting that zinc supplementation could be as effective a treatment for acne as traditional antibiotics. The anti-acne effects of zinc have been linked to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as to its role in collagen formation, which is crucial for healthy skin. Zinc has also been shown to control sebum production on the surface of the skin.
Fiber and Protein
Thanks to the fiber and protein they contain, soaked chia seeds can reduce the glycemic rating of a meal, which in turn can offer great benefits to acne sufferers. In general, foods that rate low on the Glycemic Index (GI) help keep insulin levels on an even keel. This is great news since excess insulin in the bloodstream can lead to a surge in circulating androgen and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) which are associated with acne breakouts.