Chia Seeds: Frequently Asked Questions

Flaxseeds

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.

Chia Green SmoothieIf you like chia seeds, you’ll love 6 Fabulous Recipes for Chia Seeds here on VegKitchen.

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.

Chia-Crusted Tofu CutletsQ. 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 Pudding with blackberriesQ. 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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139 comments on “Chia Seeds: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. TARA

    IS THERE ANYTHING IN CHIA SEEDS THAT MIGHT MAKE YOU FEEL “WIERD” LIKE JITTERY OR SHAKEY OR LIKE YOU FEEL WHEN YOU HAVE TO MUCH CAFFEINE.

  2. Shawn

    Same here! Weird feeling maybe took way too much will lower the amount next time and see how I feel, WOW feels like I had 3 espressos!

  3. Felicia

    I accidentally poured about half a cup for 1 person smoothie and I don’t jittery. But have a slight stomach ache.

  4. Nava

    Yikes, that is way too much chia for a single serving! Drink a lot of water so that you don’t get sick to your stomach!

  5. Heather

    I was reading elsewhere that some people have reactions to GLAs (omega 6s). I wonder if there are sometimes reactions to LNA (omega 3s) as well. They are abundant in chia seed.

  6. Kristrn

    I swallowed about a tablespoon and a half dry but drank a lot of water afterward now I’m freaking out though cause I read an article about them swelling in your esophagus. Anyone ever have issues?

  7. Val

    Chia seeds have plenty of nutrients including calcium, protein, vitamins A, B, D, E, copper, iodine, iron, sulphur, potassium, sodium, zinc, manganese, thiamine, niacin, anti-oxidants and silicon.
    Adults may consume 15-20 grams of chia seeds per day.
    Those between the ages of 10-18 may consume about 10 grams of chia seeds each day.
    Children under 10 should not consume more than 1 tablespoon of chia seeds.
    Since chia seeds can hold up to 12 times its weight in water, they are wonderful to prevent dehydration. However, if you choose not to soak them, then they can also absorb water from you during digestion.
    So make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated.
    Adding chia seeds to your diet may cause some gastrointestinal symptoms, such as gas or bloating, if it means a sudden increase in your daily fiber intake. Drink plenty of water and increase your fiber intake gradually to limit this risk.

  8. Stacey

    I eat about a cup or more of chia seeds a day but always in some kind of fluid, usually in water with lime juice a la chia fresca or even in my iced coffee. I’ve never had any issues with jittery-ness, indigestion, stomach issues, or anything like that. I love them!

  9. Nava

    Stacey, you are lucky that you’ve not had any negative effects from that much chia! Most people would not be able to tolerate a cup of chia seeds per day.

  10. Kaitlin

    I eat 1/3 cup of chia seed “pudding” that i make for breakfast everyday. Sometimes I add a 1/3 cup to my protein shake at night. Nava some of us work out a lot and are hungry all the time… hence chia seeds being called “runner’s food.” It really helps me keep hydrated too.

  11. Dennis

    I read that too much Maganese can cause shaking, “parkinson like symtoms”. I too have become more shaky from eating it.

  12. TC

    Not sure if someone had already said this to you guys bc i didnt feel like reading all of the comments, but the reason you feel shaky is bc you are dehyrated…Chia seeds absorb a CRAZY amount of liquid which can lead to dehydration. When i started drinking more water that feeling went away….

  13. Lara

    Just my 2 cents but always start with small quantities eg with 1 tbsp n then increase it slowly as too much of anything isn’t good for. As a person with chronic constipation or has helped a lot even though i eat 2tbsp or even less a day. I haven’t felt increase in energy yet maybe i need to eat more seeds? I have a 3 month old who takes up a lot of my energy add shes full of life so i need more energy n ill stay taking 3tbsp n see how that goes. I have noticed my skin being more clearer n my eyes with a sparkle so far so very good. I berm using it for 10 days now

  14. Nicole Gabriel

    I had my entire large intestine removed 2 years ago and a j-pouch put in. Is it ok to eat chia seeds if you do not have a colon?

  15. Nava

    Nicole, it’s best to ask your medical practitioner this kind of question; we’d hate to give you the wrong advice~

  16. Cory

    Okay so what should you do if you take to much and I’m going through the gas and irration right now and don’t know what to do

  17. Nava

    Cory, just keep drinking water! that’s very important. Readers, please be aware — too much chia is way too much of a good thing!

  18. Tammy

    Just ate a small 5.3 oz Greek Yogurt that had Chia seeds already in it,started feeling flush in face.Looked up side affects.I’m allergic to black cohash,and take plavix.Could this be a allergic reaction.?Thank You

  19. Nicole

    I just tried chia seeds for the first time today and i only had two sips. Almost instantly my heart started racing and I felt the energy. It was very intense!

  20. Lynn

    What is the recommended daily amount of chia? I put approx. 1 tsp. in my smoothie every morning. Also, should I soak them first?

  21. laura m.

    I got some ground chia seed and only used a rounded Tblsp. in a smoothie. several hours later, I got bloating and gas. I kept eating it several days, and stopped. Is is common?

  22. JV

    I love chia seeds but stop with the OMEGA 3 mumbo jumbo. Chia contains the OMEGA ALA not DHA which is what a human body needs. The human body is terrible at converting ALA to DHA. So the rich in omega 3 label it’s been given is nothing but advertising

  23. snowyh

    OK, so you made me look up the difference between DHA (fish-based) and ALA (plant-based) Omega-e fatty acids and here’s what I found: “The clinical/interventional trials to date with increasing ALA intakes in relation to fatal coronary heart disease… suggest that increasing the intake of ALA by 1.2 g/day may decrease the risk of fatal coronary heart disease by approximately 20%.”

    Lots more to read–didn’t feel the need to post the entire article here, as you can google it yourself.

  24. Tyler

    I’ve been using chia for awhile now.
    I’m seeing a lot of negative comments which makes me worry.
    Usually put them in my water and sip.
    My friend tried a few dry as soon as I purchased them.
    She has diverticulitis and had problems in the past, now I’m worried that these will get stuck in her stomach/intestine? Please let me know more about the digestion of these,
    She ate some dry? Will they stick to her stomach or intestines?

  25. Nava

    Hi Tyler, thanks for your concern for your friend. This is definitely a medical/nutrition issue, and your friend should consult with her practitioner.

  26. Nicky

    I’ve been eating 2 tblsp of chia in my yogurt/oatmeal mix and I haventered noticed anyything, good or bad. How long before you read the benefits of chia?

  27. Mary Alice Dominguez

    I had heard about chia about 2 years ago.
    I bought a bag of chia, I remember that when I first had about 1 teaspoon of chia in a glass of water, stir and let sit a few minutes, stir and drink. I had no reaction from it.
    Recently my dietitian gave me the recipe for Chia Pudding. Delicious!
    1 cup unsweetened almond milk/coconut milk
    /soy milk/chocolate soy milk
    chocolate almond milk/vanilla almond
    milk of your choice
    1/4 cup chia seeds
    1-2 Tablespoons of pure maple syrup, to
    taste
    Directions:
    1.Whisk the almond milk, chia seeds and sweetner together in a bowl or glass mason jar. [Frothy gray/green on top.]

    2. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for
    2 1/2 hours, or overnight. It helps to
    stir the mixture every so often during
    this time, but do not worry if you can
    not.
    3. Stir well before serving. Portion into
    bowl(s), add your desired toppings.
    Leftovers will keep in an air-tight
    container in the refrigerator for 3-5
    days.
    Toppings:
    Granola
    Fresh fruit: berries, banana, mango,
    kiwi, etc.
    Coconut flakes [sweetened is OK, too]
    Pure maple syrup
    Cinnamon
    Nuts & seeds
    Serving size: 1/2 cup Yields about 3
    servings.
    There are also fillers you can put in.
    [I do not have that info at this time.]
    Enjoy! We did.

  28. Nava

    Ralph, I don’t believe chia seeds have caffeine, but some people report feeling jittery or shaky if they take too much at once (too much is also hard on the stomach). Consult your practitioner, and start with small quantities!

  29. Nava

    Allison, so sorry for the delayed response. Sometimes these queries get buried. I don’t know of any interaction between chia and HRT, but this is the kind of question you need to ask a Registered Dietician.

  30. Susan M

    I’ve never used Chia before and am now considering taking them to help lower blood pressure. I do not take any prescription medication currently. I’m wondering if this is a good idea; how do I start; and how long (estimated) until one could expect to see results?

  31. Nava

    Hi Susan, this is the kind of question we’re not qualified to answer, if there’s a medical component to it. If your MD is unfamiliar with chia and its effects, you’ll want to consult a Registered Dietician, who will be more knowledgable on the subject. Good luck!

  32. Lang

    Chia seeds seem to make my gas and bowel movements smell atrocious. I’m currently using them whole about two tablespoons a day, one morning and one at night. I noticed this when I tried them a few years ago as well.
    Has anyone else experienced this?
    Any idea on why this would happen?
    Doesn’t seem worth consuming regularly for me. Maybe I should try grinding them.

  33. Rachel

    I just ate 2 tablespoons of chia seed dry, and chased it with a couple glasses of water. I heard it was good for hair and nails. Now I just read a couple of articles saying it can expand in your throat and block things up. Should I freak out? I wish I’d actually done the research ahead of time.

  34. Nava

    Rachel, I don’t think you should freak out. Next time, do less chia seeds all at once, and eat them with food, not dry. If they’re already in your stomach you’ll be OK. Sip on some water over the next couple of hours.

  35. za

    i always take chia seed as a snack (i didnt put in water or food). will there be bad effect? i munch on it almost whole day while working . reading all the comments made me terrified of the side effects.

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