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7 Chia Seeds Side Effects That You Must Know Before Consumption

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Overdoing anything regularly could be potentially harmful. The same is the case with food items as well.

However, the human body is designed so that it may try to adapt to changing circumstances.

But when a particular condition is constantly repeated, the human body might also have to give up in the long run.

Having said all that, you might already know that chia seeds are suitable for daily nutrition and are a good source of omega 3, but overdoing chia seeds consumption might also have certain side effects.

Not to miss, if you are allergic to chia seeds, you might also face issues when you consume them.

Altogether, if you are aware of chia seeds’ benefits, you should also know about their potential side effects.

Chia Seeds Side Effects

What Are Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds are edible seeds that belong to a plant of the mint family, referred to as Salvia hispanica.

This plant is a desert plant that is often sold under its common names or even under other trademarked names.

The origin of the Salvia hispanica plant is believed to be in Central America where the chia seeds were considered to be a staple food item in the ancient Aztec diet.

However, these small seeds have gained more popularity after people have found out about their health benefits.

Though small, chia seeds are an excellent source[1] of omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fibers.

You could find 10 grams of dietary fibers in just two tablespoons of the chia seeds, along with other nutrients like protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.

Besides this, chia seeds might even have myriad other health benefits like truncating inflammation, abridging your blood pressure, and ameliorating the health of your digestive system.

However, as excess of anything is bad, same goes for these small packs of energy. If you consume large quantities of chia seeds, you could experience certain side effects.

Moreover, individuals who are already prone to certain allergies or have high blood pressure and diabetes should be careful while consuming huge quantities of chia seeds.

Overeating chia seeds might lead to digestive issues, weight gain, and whatnot. In this article, we will have a glance at all the side effects of chia seeds for both females and males, along with their benefits.

Chia Seeds Side Effects

Besides being a great source of manganese, proteins, fibres, phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and magnesium, Chia seeds may have certain side effects if consumed in a great amount.

So just like any other food item, Chia Seeds could even proffer certain drawbacks due to which you should moderate your consumption of these powerhouses of nutrients.

Let’s have a glance at the different side effects of chia seeds.

  1. Allergies

    One of the greatest side effects of chia seeds is that they could cause certain allergies.

    According to this study[2], Chia Seeds may cause cross-sensitization in people who have a sesame allergy.

    This simply means that people who already have a sesame allergy may experience an allergic reaction once they consume chia seeds.

    Other than this, the first case of chia seed allergy was found in a study conducted in 2019[3]. According to this study, the person already had a medical history of allergies to cat dander and grass pollen.

    When this individual started consuming chia seeds to truncate the blood cholesterol, he experienced a severe allergic reaction after three days known as anaphylaxis.

  2. Chia Seeds Could Give You Gas

    If you are wondering, do chia seeds give you gas? Then this might be a possibility. Since chia seeds are full of fibers, they may prove beneficial for your digestive system.

    However, consuming too many chia seeds may even upset your stomach because of excessive fibre consumption[4].

    Consuming amplified amounts of fibers may cause symptoms like gases, constipation, diarrhea, bloating or abdominal pain.

    Due to this, people who have irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease may remain extra cautious while consuming chia seeds.

    Moreover, a study conducted in 2020[5] even shows how the tough exterior of the chia seeds may make it difficult for your body to break them down and digest them.

  3. Changes in level of blood sugar

    Another benefit of higher levels of fibre in the chia seeds is that they may help to truncate your blood sugar levels.

    The major reason behind this could be because fibre can slow down the process of sugar absorption and hence can help in regulating the blood sugar level of your body.

    However, if you consume chia seeds in excess amounts, then this could cause your blood sugar to decrease significantly and hence you might require an insulin dosage adjustment[6].

  4. Higher Risk Of Bleeding

    Being a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, these seeds may help to truncate your risk of developing certain heart diseases or cancers.

    However, amplified amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which you may consume through the chia seeds might even cause your blood to thin out.

    This could be a problem only in situations when you are already consuming blood-thinning medications or have low blood pressure.

  5. Adverse Impact On Pregnant Women

    Since chia seeds can relieve Constipation and they may be considered safe for pregnancy.

    But if your body is not adapted to consuming foods with high-quality fibre then consuming chia seeds while being pregnant may cause digestive system issues.

    Hence, pregnancy may not be the ideal time to add the chia seeds to your meal plan.

  6. Choking Risk

    Consuming Chia Seeds regularly may affect your throat by blocking the airways. Regular consumption of a higher side of quantity could also lead to difficulty consuming other foods.

    The regular consumption of dry Chia Seeds may cause throat inflammation. Further, it could also cause blisters in your tongue and throat.

    It consists of the properties of gelling, which could increase the weight of liquid in your throat. This may cause inflammation in your throat area.

    Also, Chia Seeds could cause blockage by getting expanded in the food pipe. This may also trigger digestive issues that could lead to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

    Later, this may make you feel nauseous, leading to several gastrointestinal disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), etc.

  7. Hives

    If one is allergic to chia seeds, they could suffer from Urticaria. It may affect your skin health, causing an allergic reaction.

    Further, it could make your skin surface red causing rashes throughout its consumption. This may present as continuous itching.

    Chia Seeds consumption could also affect your body health by causing an uncommon effect of allergy such as cross-sensitization[7].

    This may enhance your body’s reactions towards other drugs adversely consumed to stay fit and healthy. Later, this could affect your overall body functions.

    Along with this, allergic reactions like hives may cause welts which could look like small spots or connected bumps on the surface of your skin. This could be felt like the bumps on your skin.

Dangers Of Chia Seeds

Some of the side effects of chia seeds mentioned above are enough to know how they could be a danger for many individuals.

Here’s a glance at another scary news that shows the danger of chia seeds. Often referred to as a superfood, the chia seeds not only come with benefits but also with a secret health warning.

This warning shows how the chia seeds each may potentially block your esophagus. This danger of chia seed was evident according to a patient case study[8] done in the Carolinas Healthcare system.

This case study relates to a 39-year-old man who suffered from asthma and other seasonal allergies. Moreover, his medical history even included intermittent dysphagia to solids.

One day, when this man swallowed a tablespoon of dry chia seeds followed by water, he experienced difficulty in swallowing and intense dysphagia.

Not only this, but surprisingly, this blockage amplified to such a level that the man had to opt for medical treatment.

According to the authors of this case study, when the dry chia seeds mix with the liquid, they start to form a hydrogel capsule.

Moreover, they absorbed 27 times their weight in water, which further led to the issue of obstruction.

The doctors even used a variety of methods to clear out the obstruction, like an endoscope and forceps but it couldn’t move.

Due to this, the doctors ultimately had to use a neonatal gastroscope to push pieces of this gel into the stomach until the passage was clear.

Due to this, the authors of the case study recommended that people with a history of esophagus restrictions may always be cautious with this potential danger of chia seeds in their dry form.

Are Chia Seeds Healthy?

With the presence of some of the vital macronutrients and micronutrients, Chia Seeds have a nutritious composition. Hence they may provide certain health benefits to the people.

The nutritious composition of chia seeds includes 15 to 25% of proteins, 18 to 31% of carbohydrates, 15 to 35% of fat, and 18 to 35% of dietary fibres.

Besides this, chia seeds are also a good source of certain minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants and have a high percentage of omega-3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

Since the body cannot produce the Omega three or the Omega 6 fatty acids on its own, consuming chia seeds might become an essential component[9] for most people.

Moreover, the antioxidants present in the chia seeds not only protect them from going rancid but also neutralize the active molecules in the human body, which may further damage the cell compounds.

Some of the specific antioxidants present in the chia seeds include caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, kaempferol and myricetin.

These antioxidants could have protective effects on your liver and heart, and might even help to lower the blood pressure or provide anti-inflammatory effects on your body.

Another benefit of chia seeds is that they may support your weight loss journey because they are rich in fibre and protein.

The protein present in these seeds could help you to feel full for a longer time, thus reducing your appetite and food consumption, and facilitating your weight loss process.

Apart from this, the chia seeds are high in different nutrients. They could even help in improving your bone health.

Nutrients like magnesium and calcium present in the Chia seeds can ameliorate your health. And lastly, chia seeds are an edible item and they are incredibly easy to include in your diet.

All you have to do is sprinkle them on your salad or sandwiches or mix them in your smoothie shakes and other recipes. Since they can be eaten raw or even soaked in water, you have a lot of options to try.

Substitute Of Chia Seeds

Since the overconsumption of chia seeds have several side effects, you may look out for alternative sources.

The alternatives to chia seeds could include food items which are high in fibre like grains, nuts, vegetables, legumes, or pools.

On the other hand, people who consume Chia Seeds for their fatty acids may look for an alternate source of omega-3 fatty acids like fish.

Hence the other substitutes for chia seeds could include nutritious seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds or hemp seeds.

Flaxseed may even be referred to as one of the closest alternatives[10] or substitutes for chia seeds because it has many of the same benefits as the Chia seeds.

The only difference is that it is difficult to digest and contains an additional natural chemical compound known as lignans.

Lignans may help to truncate tumor growth in breast cancer, and could even protect you against prostate cancer.

Conclusion

Though Chia seeds are very nutritious and come with multiple health benefits, you must remember to consume these seeds in a limited and supervised amount.

Always remember to consult your health expert before consuming chia seeds or any other product.

Your health expert could suggest you the right dosage considering your medical history and medications if you are taking any.

6 References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Maša Knez Hrnčič, Maja Ivanovski, Darija Cör, et. al. Chia Seeds (Salvia Hispanica L.): An Overview—Phytochemical Profile, Isolation Methods, and Application. Molecules. 2020 Jan; 25(1): 11. Published online 2019 Dec 18. doi: 10.3390/molecules25010011
  2. Ben Abdulrahman Albunni, Hauke Wessels, Angelika Paschke-Kratzin, et. al. Antibody Cross-Reactivity between Proteins of Chia Seed ( Salvia hispanica L.) and Other Food Allergens. J Agric Food Chem . 2019 Jul 3;67(26):7475-7484. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.9b00875. Epub 2019 Jun 19
  3. Available from: http://www.jiaci.org/issues/vol25issue1/7-21.pdf
  4. National Research Council (US) Committee on Diet and Health. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989. Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218764/
  5. Joaquim Calvo-Lerma, Carolina Paz-Yépez, Andrea Asensio-Grau, et. al. Impact of Processing and Intestinal Conditions on in Vitro Digestion of Chia (Salvia hispanica) Seeds and Derivatives. Foods. 2020 Mar 5;9(3):290. doi: 10.3390/foods9030290.
  6. A I Vinik, D J Jenkins. Dietary fiber in management of diabetes. Diabetes Care. 1988 Feb;11(2):160-73. doi: 10.2337/diacare.11.2.160.
  7. Ben Abdulrahman Albunni, Hauke Wessels, Angelika Paschke-Kratzin, et. al. Antibody Cross-Reactivity between Proteins of Chia Seed ( Salvia hispanica L.) and Other Food Allergens. J Agric Food Chem. 2019 Jul 3;67(26):7475-7484. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.9b00875. Epub 2019 Jun 19.
  8. Chia Seeds and Dysphagia: A Cautionary Case Study. Date of Publication: October 21, 2014. Available from: https://www.empr.com/home/news/drug-news/chia-seeds-and-dysphagia-a-cautionary-case-study/
  9. Rahman Ullah, M. Nadeem, A. Khalique, et. al. Nutritional and therapeutic perspectives of Chia (Salvia hispanica L.): a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2016 Apr; 53(4): 1750–1758. Published online 2015 Oct 1. doi: 10.1007/s13197-015-1967-0
  10. Priyanka Kajla, Alka Sharma, and Dev Raj Sood. Flaxseed—a potential functional food source. J Food Sci Technol. 2015 Apr; 52(4): 1857–1871. Published online 2014 Feb 28. doi: 10.1007/s13197-014-1293-y.

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