Did you have a ch-ch-ch-chia pet when you were growing up? The same chia plant, grown like hair from old-school terracotta figurines, is popular again and again. Get ready to fall in love with a new trendy friend: chia seed oil.
Thanks to its moisturizing and mature looking skin properties, chia seed oil is appearing in more and more wellness and skin care products. And since chia seeds are roughly 30 percent oil, it’s pretty easy to extract that shiny goodness.
Here’s why you might want to try chia seed oil.
Vegetable oils (we’re talking about carrier oils like organic chia seeds, coconut, jojoba, and rose hip) are emerging skin care superstars.
Studies suggest that these oils can reduce inflammation (good news for rashes and acne). They can even help wounds heal and repair your skin barrier.
Helps keep your skin hydrated
“Chia seed oil is extracted from a desert plant and is therefore designed to retain water and moisture in difficult environments,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Scott Paviol.
“It contains an abundance of essential fatty acids – omega-3 and omega-6 – that help create a moisture barrier between your skin and the external environment and minimize transepidermal water loss (TEWL) that dries out the skin.”
Research has even shown that chia seed oil can help patients with end-stage kidney disease keep their skin hydrated. (This group is at a higher risk of dealing with cracked, dry, or itchy skin.)
“It’s best to apply chia seed oil after you shower or bath when your skin is best absorbing water,” recommends Paviol. “It helps lock in moisture and thus plump and moisturize your skin.”
Protects against some skin problems
“Because chia seed oil contains antioxidants and polyphenols, it helps prevent DNA damage from the sun and the environment, ”says Paviol.
About 68 percent of the oil in chia seeds is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in plant foods. ALA is considered a “healing fat” for your skin. It shows promise as a safe treatment for many skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
Oils also play an important role in protecting your hair from damage. “Similar to its benefits for your skin, chia seed oil can help maintain the moisture and moisture in your locks,” says Dr. Laura DeCesaris, functional medicine doctor and clinical nutritionist.
“The high fat and protein content nourishes the hair and the topical application of the oil keeps the hair shaft healthy and prevents breakage.”
This is why conditioners usually contain natural (vegetable) or synthetic (silicone) oils. Studies show that they help minimize static electricity, add shine and volume, and make your hair more manageable.
These oils are easy to wash off during a solid shampoo. Hence, it is important to replenish them with your conditioner.
Chia seeds may be small, but they are packed with nutrients. “Chia seeds are full of protein, fiber, and healthy fats,” says DeCesaris.
That means they also have some pretty sweet benefits for your body when you ingest chia seed oil.
Fatty acids are very important in keeping your heart healthy. Studies suggest that omega-3s are an important way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Although omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential for your body’s cellular function, these compounds are not naturally produced. Organic chia seed oil is a great plant-based way to get more of these important nutrients.
For your information, remember that chia seed oil contains only one type of omega-3: ALA. Your body can use this to make the other forms (EPA and DHA), but it’s super inefficient. You still need to eat plenty of foods rich in EPA and DHA (like fish) or take an omega-3 supplement to get the greatest benefits for your heart.
The fatty acids in chia seed oil are also good for your noggin. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential to your brain health. So you need to make sure that you get enough of them through your diet.
One study suggests that chia seeds can help improve your memory and even increase your intelligence. However, this research focused solely on a group of young adults.
“More studies are needed to determine if these results apply to the entire population,” says DeCesaris.
“Chia seed oil is one of the richest botanical sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties,” says DeCesaris.
“Omega-3 fats, such as those found in chia seed oil, have been shown in many studies to have positive neuroprotective effects on the brain when used as a supplement and as part of an anti-inflammatory diet.”
Studies have linked the nutrients in chia seed oil to many benefits. You may find that it gives you happier skin and hair, lower cholesterol and improved memory.