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Mila Chia Seeds: Superfood or a scam?

On a rainy February night, a small group of New Yorkers sat in a room at the YMCA while Susan Stuart, a Mila salesperson, told them about her chronic back pain.

MilaIn her southern drawl, Stuart explained how she’d suffered for years—and treated herself with the giant Ziploc full of the supplements and medications that she showed the audience—until a friend introduced her to Mila Chia Seeds.

“I started eating Mila chia seeds, and about two weeks later, my back pain dissipated.” She scanned the crowd, nodding, encouraging them to be amazed.

This is the way that Mila, a blend of carefully sourced, de-shelled chia seeds, is slowly making its way around the country via network marketing.

While chia seeds are already a trendy superfood known for their high levels of protein and omega-3s, Mila says theirs are exponentially healthier than the others. They call it “the miracle seed,” and they charge around three to five times as much as other brands—you’ll pay $55 dollars for a bag that normally costs around $12.

If you haven’t heard of Mila, get ready. Someday soon, someone you know is going to try to sell it to you. We delved into the business and nutritional facts behind the chia seeds, so you’ll be prepared. Here’s what we found:

Jim and Sherri Wear

Jim and Sherri Wear, founders of Lifemax. (Photo: Prweb.com)

The company
Mila is made by Lifemax, a company launched in October of 2008 by Jim and Sherri Wear in Orlando. The couple credited chia for helping to cure Sherri’s depression, and they decided to bring it to the masses.

After testing chia from commercial growers, they found the nutrition profile of the seeds varied greatly—from protein, fiber, and omega-3s—depending on the source.

So, taking the approach of Champagne bottling, the Wears decided to combine batches. “By blending the many seeds together in a perfect way, you’re able to achieve this high level of nutrients,” says Jim Wear.

Lifemax also uses high-tech equipment to clean and extract chia seeds from their shells, even though it’s generally accepted that they’re just as nutritious when eaten whole.

The result is what the company calls a “superior chia seed” that they charge a serious premium for—more than three times the price of other brands.

The sales strategy
MilaInstead of stocking Whole Foods’ shelves with Mila, Lifemax launched a network marketing system, the strategy of friends-selling-to-friends popularized by Avon and Arbonne.

At events like the one I attended in New York, salespeople try to draw in new recruits by emphasizing the amount of money to be made (although they never mention actual numbers) and the miracle benefits of chia, which, they reason, you should want to share with the people you love.

The science is presented in easy-to-digest tidbits, and presenters rely heavily on exaggerated anecdotal stories like Susan’s. At that session, presenters shared instances of Mila curing acid reflux, migraines, and IBS, to name a few—with a compulsory: “By the way, we’re not making medical claims,” thrown in at the end, after everyone had stopped paying attention.

The science
So how do you sort through the marketing? We did some serious research on chia’s nutritional value, which you can read here. In the end, it comes down to this: Mila Chia Seeds are definitely good for you, but Lifemax hasn’t convincingly proved that they’re better than other brands currently on the market.

Jim Wear promises that research will soon be released backing up his claim that chia seeds must be opened (or shelled) in order to reap their nutritional benefits (which would be groundbreaking!). Until then, the accepted wisdom is that they don’t have to be.

Our take? Save your money for now. If the company proves us wrong sometime soon, we’ll be happy to embrace the magical purple bag. —Lisa Elaine Held

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  1. February 29th, 2012 at 7:24 am

    [...] February 29, 2012Mila Chia Seeds: Nutrition claims and factsFirst, let us state the obvious: Mila Chia Seeds are really good for you. Why? Because chia seeds are just generally awesome—they’re rich in [...]

  2. February 29th, 2012 at 9:17 am

    A fellow holistic health coach sent me a 5 day sample and I felt no differently then when I took regular chia. Of course she wanted me to sell them but I can’t see asking my clients to pay $60 a bag for them. For now I use regular chia seeds and let them soak a bit.

  3. February 29th, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    My company, Ruth’s Foods, sells chia, and I am the creator of the raw breakfast cereal Chia Goodness, the only instantly delicious product on the market with chia as a first ingredient.
    You do not need to “shell” chia at all. They may be talking about grinding, which exposes the Omega fatty acids to oxygen and causes them to deteriorate. As soon as (mature) chia gets wet, a gel forms around it that leads to the slow release of nutrients and is really good for you. Your body can easily break it down after that, and it is best to use it whole, but in liquid, not dry.
    There are differences between types of chia, because of soil at location grown, farming practices, and if harvested at maturity (which makes a huge difference and there’s a lot of immature chia around).
    Why combine them – why not use the best? This approach may sound good, but multi-level marketing has to have huge margins built in for the “down-line” – that’s why the product is so expensive, not because its justified by what you are getting.

  4. February 29th, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Let’s examine the facts. The author of this article left out an impressive study done by a Research Institute in North Carolina comparing Mila to 8 of the top chia brands sold in our country. For more information on that study http://www.rgarcia.lifemax.net/WhyMila

  5. February 29th, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Hi Rachel,

    We did include information on the study and a link to the research. The details are in the companion story on Mila’s nutrition facts. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/xUMyqo

    Thanks!

  6. February 29th, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Thanks for this info–I’ve been researching which Chia seeds to buy and can’t believe I considered paying $60 for a bag when there’s been no proven difference. Regular Chia seeds are the way to go.

  7. February 29th, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I have consumed Mila and it is a good product. I also found a source of the same blend with the same slicing method or very similar for 1 5th of the price approx. 10.50 a pound U.S.. It is an affiliate site and I would be happy to share it with anyone if you are interested.

  8. March 1st, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Guys – there is more to this story for those that want to get fully educated on chia options! test their seeds like crazy to ensure complete integrity of the product – nutrition inside the bag is exactly what they say is in it and the seeds we get are meticulously cleaned and free of stuff you do NOT want in your bag of chia (mold, stems, unripened seeds)! End of the day, the science combined with vast anecdotal evidence of people that have eaten other chia for long periods of time and switch to Mila and experience significant health improvements is testament to me that the purple bag is worth its weight in gold. Stay tuned!

  9. March 1st, 2012 at 10:46 am

    @Rachel-Dr. Wayne Coates, AKA Mr. Chia was the scientist that helped start MILA. He left the company due to philosophical differences-probably the fact that the product mark-up was making it less accessible to the public. He endorses a brand that is looks, tastes and is the exact same product as Mila. It’s sliced the same way and cold-milled and comes from the same place and is $10 plus shipping for the same size bag. I have used BOTH Mila and this product and can assure you they are the same. I have worked in a MLM company before (not Mila) and can also assure you that the difference in price is directly attributed to sales commissions. Now, I agree that there is inferior Chia out there that is cheap and probably dirty or from the wrong growing conditions with less bioavailability and nutrients. I buy it here http://www.azchia.com/ There is also a great site http://www.chiativity.org/ that is a great source of information. Dr Coates has more of an academic interest in Chia (see his background and education) whereas, Jim Wear is an entrepreneur.

  10. March 9th, 2012 at 10:04 am
  11. April 4th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Recommending Mila to a friend or family member is not different than any other means of helping others to look, feel and be able to earn an additional stream of income. We all do it everyday helping promote someone or something that we have found that works for us that we use! If I recommend Dr. Chia’s Chia seed I don’t get an income from that but if I have a business of my own I will help others besides myself to look and feel better while earning money.

    I understand your thoughts and concerns but truely Lifemax is not any different than any business trying to help others to earn an income, while getting healthy! Mila is different than Chia because of its high quility blend and the growing process. So, for someone to use it for 5 days and don’t see a difference is not even a fair statement when I know people who have used Mila over regular chia seeds and found a huge difference.

    There are numerous individuals who are adding Mila/Lifemax to their practices who recommend and use Mila! Cheri Sori…Living Light Institute, Dr. Brian Clemont from Hippocraties just to name a couple.

    We all do have our own thoughts on this subject and I feel that people need to use Mila for more than a week to feel a difference.

    Stay well :)

  12. April 7th, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    [...] Mila Chia Seeds: Superfood or a scam? [...]

  13. April 23rd, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Spectrum Chia has 2,400 mg of Omega-3s per serving, Mila has 3,000mg, so if you are going to compare price, let’s compare nutrients as well! Mila is also higher in protein, calcium, iron, etc. watch this scientific study to learn more: http://lifemax.net/saraladd/WhyMila

    You can buy 2 buck chuck or spend $50 on a bottle of quality. Knowing where your grapes were grown and how they were harvested is important and determines quality. If you are ok with 2 buck chuck, than Mila is not for you.

  14. May 28th, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    I have been using a cold fractured milled chia from http://www.runningfood.com. They, too, boast a proprietary blend and milling process. I have found the runningfood product to be great! I love the product, the company and the fact that it isn’t network marketed. I understand the differences in some of the inferior products but sincerely feel that runningfood.com’s products are equal to Mila. And, get this, their product is only $18 per bag, less than half the mila cost. 2 for the price of 1 and equal if not superior quality. That is a no brainer for me. I don’t base my decision on price. I want a quality product and feel that runningfood.com’s milled chia seed is high quality. Runningfood.com boasts over a decade of experience in the field and I stand by their product. I would check their product out when thinking about buying Mila. That’s just my opinion….

  15. June 4th, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I love Chia seed used them for 20 years but if you Shelled (the husk is good for you) just grind them in a coffee Grinder, people do that to make smoothys and home made protean bars. Mila not a scam but I will not pay 5 times the price just to get rid of the best part, All these Mila Fans are trying chia in large doses for the first time in there lives… Here a idea try the plain whole cheap grain fist!!! Then compare. If you think the husks getting in the way try it with a coffee grinder, then try the Mila if you want. But realistically there just yuppie chia.

  16. June 18th, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    As a bystander and an educated healthcare professional I’d like to point out that it is clear as day that those commenting in favor of Mila are only those who sell the product.

  17. June 25th, 2012 at 1:07 am

    I have been using Chia for awhile, and I was given a bag of Mila to try, I have noticed a difference – my energy, the taste, my skin and I feel more satisfied through the day and I am a healthy eater. I don’t sell Mila but I must say I am impressed with the results……so if it costs double I will pay it.
    After doing some research on the net I noticed a photo of poor quality Chia and it looks like what I bought last at the health food store, makes one wonder!!

  18. June 26th, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Mila is a marketing gimmick just like POM is to pomegranate.
    Only suckers would pay that premium price…infact that premium price would pay for 10 families’ meals for a month in developing nations.
    Americans needs to start living healthy from the beginning instead of feeding their kids Mc donalds/KFC and supersizing everything. The end result is that you find all these gimmicks targeting these unhealthy obese people.
    Let me tell you of my new gimmick..its called ‘SuperWATER’…drink that instead of the 10 cans of pop/soda that Americans drink per day and see the difference..and I will also charge 50 dollars for that ‘Drink’ and tout all the benefits of Water vs soda…

  19. July 15th, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    The time has come where Australians are being recruited by the top American sellers of Mila. I reluctantly went along after reading theses reviews and after trying some tasty tidbits which mila had been added to I was shown a 19 min video of mila representatives all stating their health claims and profit making!
    After the video I approached the top dog of the group and mentioned Dr Coates showing her this link and it was interefting to see that I had brought up something that they would not like to discuss openly whilst promoting the benefits of mila.
    Dr Coates had broken the contract with the Weirs was all she would say and I responded that the reason was because of the exceptionally high price that was placed on mila and that one could purchase EXACTLY the same product for 1/5th of the price!!! Funny how she didn’t want to continue talking to me after that????
    My “friend” who I was constantly badgered by to just simply come along to the presentation tried many different suggestions to get me to “sign up” at $69.95 where you get two websites then it’s $49.95 a yr after that! Plus… You have to buy into your business by choosing either the silver, gold or platinum. As someone that has basically no money ideally the silver deluxe I think it’s called you outlay $555. You get about 15 bags of mila. Of course the platinum is the best one to sign up for at $3,500 and 80 bags or was it 50??? I don’t know I tuned out way before then!!!
    My initial instinct was that of these super American power money makers with their carefully instructed precise language regarding mila is just like ALL these other MLM fantastic rags to riches stories I’ve heard before. Oh and there’s more… No free shipping to Australia!!!
    I think if you’re gullible to believe mila is better than any of the other chia seeds out there then all I can say is ” A fool is easily parted from their money”
    Dr Coates… Where do I sign up to get YOUR Chia seeds???

  20. July 22nd, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    University of Arizona Professor Wayne Coats the foremost authority on chia seeds was previously affiliated with Lifemax — Mila. He has been researching Chia for the over 20 years and now grows and offers chia seed at a cost that all can afford. cheapchia.com

  21. July 22nd, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    To Jacob Roig –

    Jacob, I would like to know the name of the affiliate company to MILA, who shares the same slicing method, costs 1/5 the price @$10.50 lb US. Your posted comment said you would be happy to share that information. I have used MILA and love it but it doesn’t work with my budget. I am equally happy with Chiabia (azchia.com – Dr Wayne Coates company). I was told Dr Coates was the pioneer of Chia in recent years and formerly worked for/with Lifemax.

    Thank you.

  22. August 22nd, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    I wish someone would try and sell that Mila Seed to me at that price. I’d laugh them right out the door. No way, would I pay for any food that cost that much. No thanks, I’ll stick to my (what I can afford,) Organic Chia Seeds.

  23. September 25th, 2012 at 6:02 am

    You should watch this lecture by Dr. Adiel Tel-Oren. It will show you a new side of these seeds…
    http://www.clarysageseedsoil.com/2012/09/25/dr-adiel-tel-oren-the-ruth-about-proteins/

  24. November 26th, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    To Pam Smith
    No chia is sliced. The so called open ones are milled. You would think if Mila had a proprietary method of slicing, they would show it (nobody could legally copy them). They are all cold milled. In the same way that other products like flax seeds are cold milled. Do some independent research. Ask someone like Wayne Coates. You’ll see.

  25. December 23rd, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Have been taking Mila for about 30 days. Can tell it helps digestion and ELIMINATION. It may be that Dr Coates was not pleased with MLM PRICING GOUGE AND/OR A VARIATION IN HIS QUALITY STANDARDS. Is Dr Coates Mila the best quality? If not what’s the best?

  26. December 27th, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks to S. Carraway for mentioning my website. I’ve been writing about chia seed for over 5 years, and during that time it’s been amazing to see the growth of this product. Even the Chia Pet Company has begun selling chia seed for human consumption.

    I do not sell chia seed, nor am I affiliated with Dr. Coates. But I agree with those commentators who question the high price of Mila.

  27. March 20th, 2013 at 6:55 am

    I never heard of Mila yet but I agree that their price is so high. I also believe that Chia Seeds really have an impact on your health. By the way I love to use chia seeds in deserts.

  28. February 21st, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    That’s BS, I have been consuming Chia seed since I remember (6 years old), it was the everyday cold drink we had available in our little village of Diriomo Nicaragua.
    Chia seed contains a lot of nutrients and proteins but it is not a magic food, and there is no need to select seed neither to grind it.
    These people are plain scammers.

  29. February 21st, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Forgot to mention that the only 100% Natural Chia Seed in the market, is the Chia from Mexico and Central America, where it has been cultivated for at least 2000 years.
    Chia from South America, Australia and USA is highly industrialized and they rely on the heavy use of pesticides and fertilization to obtain high yields.

  30. March 24th, 2014 at 11:26 am

    I wanna place an order for Mila Seeds. Can you do a deliver to Singapore?

  31. May 30th, 2014 at 4:09 am

    I have been eating Mila for several years, and it is the most amazing super food. I have tried 4 other brands, because I wanted to save money. The other brands did not compare to Mila. I ended up giving away the health food store brands, because it did not compare to Mila.
    I have a lot of friends who eat Mila, and they rave about the benefits.
    You only have one body, put the highest quality food is your body temple. I am so grateful that my friends shared Milan with me.

  32. June 16th, 2014 at 1:06 am

    Never heard of anyone saying the shell or skin of any fruit, nut or veg wasnt good. Cavemen wernt shuckers.
    Eat em whole.

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