Chia Seeds: Frequently Asked Questions


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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147 comments on “Chia Seeds: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Dottie

    This site has really been helpful. My daughter and I just started using Chia seeds and I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about the Chia seeds. Reading this site I now know why my daughters stomach has been hurting. I soak two tablespoons of Chia seeds in 1/2 to 3/4 cups water water, stir well cover and put in the refrigerator, I get ready for work about 30 min. I add a cup or more yogurt mix well. I asked my daughter if she soaked her seeds and she did not which I know now that the seeds are absorbing most of the water in her system which is giving her stomach cramps. Soaking the seeds first is the way to go for me and my daughter. I hope this can help anyone reading this.

  2. Gabrielle Nickerson

    Thank you, your post helped a lot. My daughter and have just started using Chia seeds as well, and didn’t know what to expect. Your post helped very much. Good luck to you.

  3. Beverly Paige

    I found out that I Love chia seed and I eat more that two table spoons a day along with liquids. is that alright.

  4. marisol san miguel

    Is chia safe to consume if you have diverticulitis. My doctor said I should avoid seed like sesami seed corn ect.

  5. Nava

    Marisol, that’s an excellent question, but we’re not qualified to answer those that are medical, like yours. If your MD doesn’t know much about chia, you might consult a Registed Dietician who can guide you on this. Good luck!

  6. Mary

    I mix sugar free jello with Chia seeds and let it set up over night it’s very good. How much is the amount of seeds should I have daily? Is there a risk of over dosing?

  7. Darlene

    I make a jam by mashing 1C of fresh or frozen organic fruit, with 2T chia seeds and 2T Xylitol (a natural sugar made from Birch trees) You will have to adjust the sweetened according to taste. No boiling! Just put it in a jar and refrigerate. It tastes so fresh!

  8. AtlantaJJ

    I just connected the dots today. When I eat them with Greek yogurt, I am fine, no symptoms. When I mix them in water and drink, no problems. BUT when I mix them in oatmeal, I thought it was a fluke, until today, I had the oatmeal, with blueberries and chia seeds. Tummy ache city. Oh my. Glad I found this post.

  9. Barbara

    Darlene, xylitol can cause diarrhea in sensitive individuals. Found that out the hard way chewing sugar free gum that contained the stuff…I’ve heard of chia seed jam and would love to make it. Would other sweeteners work?

  10. Marie

    I blend strawberries with a bit of coconut water, then add 2 tablespoons of Chia. I put it in a container until lunch time and add vanilla/natural yoghurt. Makes a great afternoon snack!

  11. Sree Talluri

    I have been experiencing bloating and diarrhea lately immediately after dring my berry-chia smoothie. I stopped taking it jsut to find the reason and this article proves that taking 3 teaspoons of chia in my case is not good!

  12. zeb

    I love the question & answer section on your site. One question/answer I didn’t see in “What is the optimum amount a 300# male should consume?” I would appreciate any answers.

  13. RoseMary

    I am on a strict 500 calorie diet I need a natural appetite suppressor; how much Chia Seeds do I take and how often, do I take in between meals or before a meal. Also can I combine Chia Seeds with Flax Seeds. Please Help!

  14. sally

    I put about 2 tablespoons of chia seed in container with milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract and dash of sugar overnight in refrigerator and the chia seeds haven’t gelled up any. Do you think the seeds aren’t any good? I just purchased them at Trader Joe’s.

  15. Nava

    Kathy, that’s a medical issue and we’re not qualified to answer that … it might be good to ask a Registered Dietician this very good question.

  16. Nava

    Sally, it’s odd that your chia seeds didn’t gel up at all overnight in the fridge. I’d say give it one more shot with less liquid (stir up an hour or two after you’ve combined them with the liquid; maybe try nondairy milk instead) and if they still do nothing, return them to the store.

  17. S.J.

    Hi there,

    I have just started the chia diet. And I realized that after soaking the chia seeds with warm water, it kinda had some funny smell coming out? Has it gone bad since many said that chia seeds do not have smell or its normal?

  18. Ulla

    I had a bad reaction to eating chia seeds.
    I bought a bag of the seeds and added some to my morning ooatmeal bowl.
    Have not had them in two days. Am still bloated and have diarrhea every hour. Painful cramps.
    Can’t leave my house. I will not try to eat them again.
    Chica seeds are not for everybody.

  19. Gloria

    Sally – it could be the ratio of liquid to chia seeds. 1 cup liquid to 1/4 cup chia seeds is about right.

  20. Gloria

    Also, I would use chia seeds with organic coconut milk or almond milk. If you’re eating chia seeds because they’re healthy, might as well go all the way.

  21. houda Aldifai

    Do the chia seeds can be affected by hight temperature of the oven?

    Are chia seeds useful for patient with hypertension or diabetic?

    Thank you

  22. Ilja sidoti

    I’ve been getting bad stomach cramps and could not work it out! I think it’s in part due to not drinking fluid whilst eating chia!
    Thanks so much

  23. Ravenwolven

    I’ve started eating chia almost 2 weeks ago. I’ve seen a significant drop in my blood sugar! I’ve gone from the 180’s to the 130’s! I’m really amazed as this is working better than the Metformin was and I don’t have the “Metformin Moments” to deal with anymore. I swear by chia now.

    I got a recipe from Whole Foods, but in my haste to try it out, I didn’t measure accurately and now I don’t have any idea what the nutrition information is to enter in my tracker. I need to figure out how many tablespoons wet chia is compared to dry chia. I’ve been guessing based on the calories in a chia pod.

    The recipe, in case anyone is interested, is thus:

    White chia
    Coconut water
    Vanilla Soymilk
    Vanilla extract

    Combine above ingredients and allow to soak overnight in the fridge. Add more liquid to seed for wetter results and vice versa for dryer.

    When ready to eat layer chia “pudding” in a skinny glass with unsweetened shredded coconut and chopped fresh fruit of your choice. The recipe in the store contained blueberries and kiwi. I had strawberries and grapes on hand and it was delicious!

    Next time I’m going to make it with dark chocolate almond milk and coco powder. Maybe layered with slivered almonds and cherries?

  24. Michelle

    The answers to these questions are someones opinion. The answers seem to be from someone who, apparently, can tolerate chia seeds well. Not everyone can. I cannot. I was sick for 2 weeks from eating these. Major intestinal issues, bloating, along with infection and fever. On antibiotics for 10 days then another 2 different antibiotics for another 10 days! Also, had to have a cat scan. If you are prone to any sort of diverticulitis, I would not risk it. But that is just my opinion and what my DR’s have recently talked about with me.

  25. Michelle

    To the question “can you eat too much chia seeds?” The correct answer should be “yes, yes you can eat to much”

  26. minnie

    I noticed that when I start drinking my chia seeds I start getting a really bad cough is that normal

  27. pseudonym

    I couldn’t tolerate chia until I found this method: I soak 2 tablespoons overnight in 8 oz of homemade kombucha. n the morning I drink it as-is, add a little fruit juice and drink, or use it as the liquid in a breakfast smoothie. Delicious! I found that any acidic liquid (fresh lemon juice in water, fresh orange juice, even cider vinegar water) works the best, if left overnight. The seeds are larger, more gelatinous and softer. I have mild diverticulitis, drinking 2 tablespoons a day soaked overnight this way made a huge improvement in ‘normalcy’ and regularity for me. My gastro gave me two thumbs up on my last exam!

  28. Chef Javi

    I use 1 to 3 Tablespoons daily. In the past I would eat them raw, just chew them up, crunchy, never had a problem. Though this year I eat them with liquid.
    Have noticed an extreme price increase in the last 5 years.Thank you for the great info!

  29. Kc chhan

    I grew up drinking chia and basil seeds all my life. And it was commonplace to always soak your seeds first before drinking or consuming them..must be a cultural thing.

  30. Kathy

    I love my smoothies with Chia seeds.I put 1 Tablespoon in with my fruit…but like others i would sometimes get cramping. So now I’m trying the gelled Chia. the back of the bag said to use 2 tablespoons to 6 oz. of water and let soak for a least 10 minute..I did 20 minutes….when it was ready there was probably over a cup of gelled it safe to drink that whole cup of gelled chia at one time?
    I drank half and I’m already full…Can I save the other half for the next day?
    I appreciate any answers…thanks

  31. Jayme

    I opened my bag of Chia seeds and it looks like there is some spider webs in it or something like that with the seeds. Is that normal or was there a spider in my bag?

  32. Jo

    Jayme, I too, just opened my first bag of Chia and all gung ho to jump in and try it, noticed the web issue, as well as a pupa stage moth, I have not searched for more, but where there is one, certainly there are more. I don’t really want to eat the seed now. I didn’t read an answer to Jayme’s question; is this common? The chia seed was expensive, and it is a 50 mile drive to take it back to the store where I purchased it. This is a real pain to deal with! Now what?

  33. Lisa

    I love chia seeds. Thanks for listing all of the vitamins they contain, I didn’t know there were so many! It definitely makes sense that you need to drink a lot when you eat chia seeds. As the article said, they absorb liquid. You definitely don’t want to get cramps from eating too many chia seeds and not drinking enough. The good news is, it’s totally avoidable!

  34. Jen

    Two quick recipes, for the morning rush, and the any time drink:

    1-2 tsp chia (can build up over time)
    Scope of whey-free protein powder
    Frozen fruit
    Plain yogurt

    Stir tonight, the fruit will thaw in the fridge, and the chia changes the consistency of the yogurt to almost a mousse. Tasty and filling.

    Lemon juice
    Lots of Water
    (All measurements to your taste)

    Blend in blender or “Nutri Bullet” appliance. Pour your serving into a glass, stir in chia seeds, enjoy, Keep remaining ginger drink covered in the fridge for later in the day or tomorrow. For consistency in serving size, I only add the chia to the serving I’m about to drink. The chia gels quickly. I don’t find it necessary to soak them for hours. They do their magic in minutes.

  35. lena santana

    good Morning.

    My lither brother has Type 1 diabetes because of it he has chronic renal failure( Kidney problem) and failure heart. I was doing my research and found about that black sesame seeds are good for the Kidney. My only worry is sesame seeds has any phosphorus and potassium in it? as it is prohibited in his diet. The doctor in Brazil has said that he will need to do
    hemodialysis if he doe not get any better, it is breaking his and our hearts.. can you please help clarified as it seams to be a great seed for the kidney.

    I really appreciated your help
    Many thanks

    lena Santana

  36. Joanna

    I’ve been noticing lately that when I make homemade chia puddings with coconut milk that sometimes they come out super acidic and awful. Why is that?

  37. Nava

    Joanna, I never heard this before, but I wonder if there is some chemical reaction going on? Readers, can anyone answer this?

  38. kris

    I had a bad allergic reaction to chia which no one mentions on any site and it’s frustrating. It gave me rosacea-like symptoms. Itching, burning, dry skin on my face but no redness. Stopped the chia a week ago and the skin problems still bad. How long does chia stay in your system? This happened to someone else I know but this isn’t in any site that lists side effects. I want to claw off my face. Can anyone help with an answer??

  39. Mags

    kris I have been having the same problem as you, I can’t be sure it is the Chia seeds but it’s the only new food in my diet. My face is so hot and itchy as are my forearms very strange. I have stopped eating them I really hope this problem disappears quickly!!

  40. Rajendran

    I take 10 gms of Chia seeds and 15 gms of Flax seed with breakfast cereal daily.
    It is not necessary to grind Shia unlike Flax seeds

  41. Adrien

    I’ve just bought a bag of seeds but am scared to try them after reading some of these reviews… 🙁

  42. kris

    Mags – I arrived at the chia conclusion by process of elimination. I was taking it every day for months and have been suffering the allergic reaction for 4 weeks – two weeks ago today I stopped taking it and am praying my skin heals. I hope yours clears up soon, too. This really is hellish.

  43. Nancy

    I made pancakes which had two tablespoons of ground chia seeds in them. I ate two pancakes and felt gassy, bloated, and had stomach pain. It took me two meals (and a bit of googling) to figure out what it was. Maybe I am allergic to sesame seeds too? Anyway, my point is that I ate a small amount and still had this reaction.

  44. Jon

    I just ate 1 full cup of chia seeds that had soaked in 4-5 cups of almond milk with honey and cinnamon. Yum! I will repost if the quantity presents any challenges. A bit excessive… yes.

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