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.

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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51 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.

  20. Vicky Lahkar

    Regarding headache, Chia seeds slow down the absorption of nutrients in intestine-> including carbohydarates-> you get hypoglycemic-> and Boom comes the headache.
    The next time you get a headache after gulping down the chia, slurp down a teaspoon of sugar in your tongue, you will have a feeling-good-head, minus the ache!

  21. Sophia

    HI ! I’ve just bought some chia seed from my local market but i believe the chia seed is not “clean” (first time I’ve tried, I found some random stuff in it that weren’t seeds). If I can’t wash it, how can I clean my seeds?
    Thank you !

  22. Nava

    Sophia, I’m not sure there’s a way to clean them. If I were you, I’d return them to the market and seek a different source!

  23. Kazza

    For thé First time yesterday I bought some black chia seeds and promptly added a tablespoon to my bottle of water. I liked them so much I ate another tablespoon on its own. I went to bed feeling extremely bloated and thought nothing of it until during the night I woke up with debilitating stomach cramps and headaches. Absolute agony for hours it came in 5 minute waves of cramping. I kept drinking bottles of warm water to try and soothe aching plus a hot water bottle on my stomach and i noticed the more i drank the pain moved from the top of my stomach down towards my lower abdomen and now it has almost disappeared. I should’ve read about the side effects and how to correctly ease into chia seeds before going crazy on the stuff! Lesson learnt!

  24. Marwa

    I take vitamins supplement and minerals.. I was wondering if adding chia seeds to water/food will lead to negative results such as an overdose?

  25. Ron

    How should I begin taking the chia seeds? I’m so glad I found this page. I’m having a very negative experience right now. Fever, chills, no energy been in bed 2 days now. The only thing different that I have eaten was the chia seeds. I just had a triple bypass done 2 1/2 months ago. I am on a no cholesterol, no (bad) fats diet which is a heart disease reversal diet. We r learning so much about plant based eating n Mon on my walk I was doing great but my allergies were the worst they had been in quite a while. When we got in n I had my quick oats n cinnamon n strawberries I added a teaspoon of chia seeds. (My wife had just gotten them). She just put a couple of pinches of Chua seeds on hers. I rested most of the day. Before supper I was chomping at the bit to be able to get out n help in the garden etc. She told me that the chia seeds were good for an energy boost. Well, apparently they were. I put another teaspoon of seeds on my salad. I went out n worked til dark. I am so excited about that. But 3:30 am tues morning I went to the bathroom I was in excruciating pain. I thought maybe appendix or kidney stone was the problem. The severe pain is gone but it looks like my body is fighting an infection. Whatever the problem is I hope the worst is passed. What I don’t want to give up is the chia seeds. It sounds like I started off w/too much n maybe didn’t drink enough water. As soon as the infection is over I want to get started taking the chia seeds again.

  26. Nava

    Ron, sorry for your health troubles. We are not qualified to give medical advice. It would be a good idea for you to consult with a Registered Dietician to get these and other questions answered so you can move forward with improving your health!

  27. Ron

    Ok, I got through that alright. What I would like to know is how much or how often I should take it so I can work up to 2 tablespoons a day? I started again yesterday w/just a pinch.

  28. Mel

    I love this stuff I put a teaspoon of chia in my lemonade
    So delicious..it’s like having boba but easier to drink…
    My mom got me into chia.. But I am also reading about the health benefits just now , now I know to not give up on my chia

  29. Ricky

    I am just learning about chia seeds. I have been plagued by irritable bowel syndrome for many years, with mostly diarrhea. Based on a nutritionist guidance I began using Metamucil as a fiber supplement several times a day to control the diarrhea, and for the past several years it has worked great. However, within the past couple of months I began having issues with it which I believe is a sensitivity to the psyllium seeds, so, I have had to stop using psyllium fiber. My BIG question is, does anyone know, or has anyone experienced the use of chia seeds, a soluble fiber, which has been used to control diarrhea? The way the psyllium works is it essentially binds the gastric acids, make for a firmer BM, and just makes life more comfortable. On top of this, I should say, I have no gallbladder, so bile salts play havoc on the system if I have too much fat, without the psyllium. I am hoping some may offer any guidance or advice on the use of chia in this regard, or any other similar healthy alternative which they may know of. Thanks

  30. Penny Carrier

    If you have trouble digesting them, then don’t take them dry. I add almond milk to a couple of spoonfuls of seeds and keep stirring occasionally for 10mins to half an hour while they swell up and make a pudding consistency. You can add a little bit of powdered vanilla and sweetening (I use a pinch of stevia) and even raw cacao to turn it into chocolate chia pudding.

  31. iz

    I absolutely love Chia seeds! How ever today someone made me laugh while in was drinking water with the seeds mixed in and some came out my nose ! I am quite scared that if there are any seeds in the back of my nose they will sprout? Could this happen ?

  32. Brandy

    I started taking chia seeds about 6 days ago and first few days went fine but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t drinking enough liquids because it’s been a couple days since my last bowl movement. the first day I didn’t even realize i hadn’t gotn enough water and went ahead and took another tsp. dry with water, unaware it wasn’t enough. today i have been drinking water cup after cup, and I feel light headed a little but mostly bloated!! Anyone know how long it takes to finally pass these threw?

  33. felicia

    I too think I have taken to many chia seeds.Drank down a bunch with water befor bed, after feel good guilty about eating potato chips,now I have felt lathargic with a headache, bloated and thirsty. I’m Drinking tons of water not that hungry. When should this pass?

  34. Kathy

    I was putting two tablespoons in my coffee every morning. felt like i was losing by belly weight. felt full and good. then for weeks i was having the worst head aches all day long, woke up during the night with the pain and my head just felt numb. i went to doctors, eye doctor, neurologist and they found nothing.i stopped using the Chia seed and i no longer have the headaches. not sure if it was from that but i will start with only teaspoon in the coffee only a couple times a week.

  35. Chris

    My niece has inflammatory bowel with diarrhea and frequent stools. Has anyone ever filled empty capsules with chia seeds to get it further down the digestive track to help with absorption of excess fluid of diarrhea?

  36. Adelina Ocampo

    I am getting interested on the health value of chia seeds. I want to grow chia seeds at our backyard. For how many months, after planting the seed, will the chia seeds be harvested? This is to plan a calendar date for planting to avoid harvesting during rainy days. Thank you, from Mama Dals

  37. Kelly

    Can chia seeds lower the bad cholesterol level?If yes, is it good enough to take 2 tablespoon of chia seeds a day for lowering the bad cholesterol? Thank you.

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