Chia Seeds: Frequently Asked Questions

Chia seeds - varieties

Chia seeds are known as a great plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, in addition to a host of other nutrients, and an abundance of calcium, protein, and fiber.  These frequently asked questions are excerpted from Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood* by Wayne Coates, PhD.

Q. Can I eat too much chia?

A. Not really. If you eat more than your body can handle, you may find yourself feeling a bit bloated, or you may experience mild diarrhea, though this is rare.

Q. Is it possible to be allergic to chia?

A. It is very rare, but the possibility does exist. Those most likely to have a reaction to chia are individuals who areallergic to sesame or mustard seed, or to other members of the salvia family, such as sage.

Q. What else does chia contain?

A. The main vitamins are: A, B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), C (ascorbic acid), E, choline, and Folate (folic acid). Chia also contains vitamins B3, B5, B6, B15, B17, D, K, inositol and PABA. The main Minerals are Boron, calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, silicon, sodium, strontium, sulfur, and zinc. It also has amylose and plenty of electrolytes. And they also contain 18 of the 22 amino acids, including all nine essential amino acids.

Q. I’m on medication. Can I take chia?

A. It depends on the medication. Your best bet is to talk with your healthcare provider before taking chia.

Q. My personal trainer said I should have chia daily between weight lifting workouts. Why?

A. Chia is believed to decrease recovery time and fatigue in cardiovascular workouts by encouraging muscle tissue repair.

Q. What happens after I’ve swallowed chia?

A. When chia reaches the digestive liquids of your stomach, it swells and forms a gel. This gel slows down the rate at which digestive enzymes turn carbohydrates into sugar.

Q. I understand I should drink plenty of liquids when eating chia. Why?

A. Since chia absorbs a lot of liquid, it can lead to stomach cramps. Hence the need to consume sufficient liquid when consuming chia.

Q. I’ve heard chia can make my nails healthier and grow faster. Is it true?

A. Chia is rich in omega-3, as well as calcium, boron, and many antioxidants that help create healthy, moist, disease-free skin.

Q. Is it necessary to grind the seed?

A. Chia seeds do not need to be ground for absorption, unlike flax, which must be ground before eating it.

Chia Green SmoothieQ. Should chia seeds be washed?

A. Chia seeds do not need to be washed.

Q. How should chia seeds be stored?

A. Whole chia seeds will stay in good condition at room temperature for several years. There is no need to keep the seeds in the refrigerator, whether it’s kept in sealed bags or not. The seed’s natural antioxidants provide this stability. Storing chia in a closed container will help extend its shelf life.

Q. What’s the difference between the colors of chia seed.

A. There are two chia seed colors, white and black. The difference between the two colors, however, is negligible. Both contain essentially the same amount of omega-3, protein, fiber, and other nutrients.

Here are two recipes from Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood:

*This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, VegKitchen receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!

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27 comments on “Chia Seeds: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Nava

    Kathie, my gut tells me that you need to proceed with real caution on using chia if you have diverticulitis — I just loaned the book out yesterday, and so can’t look up the answer for you — but I may be able to find out what the author fo this book thinks, so stay tuned!

  2. Shaun

    Kathie. i too have diverticulitis and chia seeds are great for helping with it. According to my chia seeds .com Helping with Diverticulitis is the #3 reason to take chia seeds.
    3. Help Prevent Diverticulitis / Diverticulosis
    With the abundance of over-processed foods and white flour on the market today, rich sources of fiber are harder to come by. These foods of convenience have contributed to the rise of diverticulitis. Irregularity is a

    big factor in this risky condition. To help ensure regularity, you need plenty of soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet. If you don’t want to eat celery, and whole-grain everything…or piles of bran flakes, the Chia Seed is here to help. Each seed is coated with soluble fibers which aid its gelling action. The exterior of the seed is protected by insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber is unable to be digested (it does not contribute any calories, or break down) so instead, it helps keep food moving smoothly through the digestive process. Soluble fiber, and the gel coating of the seed keeps the colon hydrated and ensures the easy movement of food.

  3. ~Joshua

    Yay, I was fine taking chia for a few weeks and then I started getting stomach cramps something awful. I think my appendix was having a negative reaction to them as well. Tests at the doctor take so long though that by the time they got around to doing them I was pretty much fine. Happened to me three times before I concluded it was the chia. Ate a little bit by itself for breakfast and that’s when I knew.

  4. Vanessa

    A possible side effect of too many chia seeds is low blood pressure (feeling faint, dizzy) and be careful eating before bed as they are super stimulating similar to caffeine. The incas used them to hike the Andes. These are both from first hand experience :)

  5. Baylee

    Can I put chia seeds in fruit smoothies or perhaps put them in something I would bake or do I have to put them in water or should I just eat them plain?

  6. Nava

    Baylee, you can do all of the above. When using in a smoothie, you need to drink up quickly, as they make liquid thicken up quite a bit. And you can use whole or ground seeds in baking.

  7. Nava

    Pat, lots of people like to add chia seeds to smoothies. You can mix them into water or juice, too, but the most important thing is to use them with a lot of fluid, as they expand greatly in the stomach.

  8. Norma Ramos

    I was born and raced in Mexico City, so that, I grew up with Chia and Lemon mixted with sugar,, I drink that as a regular drinking water all my life,,. I never had or have any blotting problems in my Stomach, I think is better to eat just a little bit to bigin, if you are not familiar with what Chia really is,, I just love the flavor and I like to play with them in my mouth, (kind of, like I am trying to bite the little tiny seeds.) Good luck and enjoy.. :)

  9. Jason

    What’s the difference between chia seeds for planting and for eating? Can I eat the seeds sold for planting all the same?

  10. Maria

    Since I eat peanut butter on a daily basis, I mix chia seeds into my jar of peanut butter. I uses a food processor to make sure they are evenly distributed. Delicious!

  11. Nava

    That’s a really good idea. I just did something very similar, and also included hemp seeds and maca powder. Made them into small rounds, and take one or two a day to get my omegas!

  12. fran allen

    I put chia in with a small amount of bircher museli,flax seeds, and top with small amount of natural yoghurt and milk. Delicious

  13. Sue

    Folate and folic acid are not the same thing. Just ask someone with the MTHFR gene mutation.

  14. Meemee

    Joshua, the cramps may have been a usual side affect of Chia. You have to drink more water than you usually do to avoid the cramps. Also, lessen the amount of seeds that you consume until you can figure the water to Chia ratio to avoid cramps.

  15. Jay

    When I put chia seeds in my water to drink , as we all know they form a gel, so when I do drink them, in my experience they pass right through me. So I’m wondering, that means I’m not getting any of the chia seeds nutrients, right?

  16. Nava

    Jay, I do believe that the chia seeds are digested, they don’t pass right through you as do, say, whole flaxseeds. Otherwise, you wouldn’t reap their benefits.

  17. Nava

    Monica, this is a great question! I’ve heard various things about this; lots of sources say that chia is not a heavily sprayed (if at all) crop; most major brands like Nutiva are certified organic in any case. So while I can’t say that my search is definitive, it may be best to err on the side of caution and support the organic variety. That said, if you already have a batch of non-organic seeds, it probably wouldn’t do much harm to use them.

  18. Jessica

    I’ve been taking chia seeds daily for a few weeks and have had horrible headaches! Like 3-6 a day and pretty severe. I never have headaches like this. The only thing I can attribute it to is the Chia seeds?! Has anyone else noticed this?

  19. Nava

    Jessica, I’ve never heard of this, but if the only change you’ve made over the last few weeks is taking chia seeds, stop using them at once! To get your omegas, switch to flax or hemp seeds, or eat 3 or 4 walnut halves a day.

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