Chia Seeds: Uses, Benefits, Risks, And Important Info That You Should Know

Date
June
17
2022
Compiled By Louise Rodriguez
Medically Reviewed By Dr. P Stein, MD FACT CHECKED

Chia seeds are probably one of the most renowned[1] names in the family of seeds when it comes to the health and nutrition industry.

This small-sized, oval-shaped tiny seed has so much to offer that fingers might not suffice the count.

Nutritionists, dieticians, and doctors recommend these seeds to people as a great source of fiber, a substitute for eggs, and most importantly, as a substitute for Ashwagandha.

Chia seeds are inevitably being used extensively in the industry for a long time now, and as enticing as these seeds sound, they come with a baggage of their own.

In this article, we will study all about chia seeds. I have also discussed chia seed benefits, potential side effects, and other essential aspects of chia seeds.

What Is So Fascinating About Chia Seeds?

It[2]might sound a little crazy but this small seed has a very long list of benefits.

The introductory part might have given a slight idea but the bigger picture is better. They have so many more versatile uses than those mentioned above. 

Let us have a quick look at what is the reason for these seeds gaining so much attention and importance in the health sector.

  1. Powerhouse Of Nutrition

    People keep struggling to find something suitable to munch on which is good for their health.

    For fulfilling the needs of the body, people are often seen stuffing their plates and end up overeating.

    If you consume chia seeds, you are unlikely to face this scenario. Even a tablespoon of these magic seeds is enough to provide fibre, carbs and healthy fats.

    Not to miss that it has no gluten or sugar. It is often overlooked that it has more calcium than milk and more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon.

    The surprising part is both of them are considered the primary sources of calcium and omega -3 fatty acids respectively, and chia seeds top them both.

    It also provides[3] potassium, magnesium, proteins and calories. Such a superfood, isn’t it?

  2. Baking Companion

    That one sounds weird but true, it can be used as a substitute for eggs while making your favourite cakes.

    You can’t even tell the difference. Just make a mixture of powder of chia seeds and water.

    Allow it to rest for 15 minutes and you are good to go. It will look something similar to an egg yolk because of the gel-like structure.

  3. Vegan friendly

    If you are the one who is going for a plant-based diet, it is just the right thing for you.

    It is a perfect replacement for eggs and can add enough crunch and flavour to your recipes.

  4. Beat The Boredom Of Bland Food

    Since they are so nutritious, you can always consume them when unwell.

    They will be good for the gut but also provide you with enough energy, keep you full and their blissful taste will tingle your taste buds.

  5. Helps The Heart

    Heart health is very crucial for healthy lives and statistically, heart diseases and cholesterol are causes of major ailments and even deaths.

    Therefore, it becomes even more important to include heart-friendly foods in your diet. Chia seeds can be the right supplement.

    As it is cholesterol-free, your heart will take no extra burden. They have antioxidants and many more healthy nutrients[4] to keep the heart “happy”.

  6. Glowing Skin

    The vitamins and hydrating properties of the chia seeds combined keep the skin glowing and prevent ageing effects.

    The antioxidants[5] are a blessing for the skin. It prevents UV rays damage which is the biggest reason for skin issues.

  7. Hassle-Free Hair

    Breakage and thinning of hair are two commonly experienced problems. Chia seeds provide an easy solution to both.

    Both the consumption and hair mask is great for this purpose.

  8. Good For Diabetes Patients

    As it helps to regulate and balance[6] insulin levels, it works great for diabetics. But you must keep in mind that too much consumption works the opposite.

Risk Factor Adjoined To Chia Seeds

Just like any other edible product, excessive consumption of chia seeds is also bad, rather catastrophic which can disrupt your life in a huge sum.

It is always recommended to consume these seeds smartly and only under a medical expert’s supervision and prescription.

One more point to be noted is that it is strictly prohibited to use chia seeds for a kid’s consumption until utterly needed.

  • A Frenemy For Diabetic Patients

    You might have heard and read enough about how they work for diabetics.

    Chia seeds are very high in fiber which does help in lowering the blood sugar levels in your body which theoretically is a good supplement for diabetic patients.

    However, doctors preferably do not recommend them to consume chia seeds since regular consumption of chia seeds can drastically decrease[7] your blood sugar level.

    The downfall could be to such an extent that you will need an insulin dosage adjustment. It is always better to ask your doctor about their dosage.

    Consider taking them in low amounts after having a talk with your doctor about the risk of the seeds interacting with your medicines.

    Keep your insulin monitored to avail the positive results rather than the negative ones.

  • It Can Trigger Allergies

    There is a big possibility that you are unaware of what you’re allergic to. Some people are allergic to chia seeds.

    The very first symptoms to experience[8] are redness and severe rashes. It can be too irritating and scratching it too much can cause bleeding.

    Upset stomach and even diarrhea are experienced. You might experience some difficulty in breathing.

    It can be heavy and wheezy. It is therefore always advised to get yourself fully checked and know your body.

    Ask your health care expert before starting to consume them.

  • Risk Of Choking

    Though they are very beneficial, as everything has a drawback, so do the seeds.

    They are dry and can be difficult to swallow. You surely do not want a seed stuck in your throat or some gel-type substance choking you.

    It will call for a trip to the emergency room.

    Some people even feed chia seeds to their babies. It is not safe to give them dry.

    Consider soaking them before consuming them to avoid unpleasant encounters.

    For babies, it is better to use them in powder form.

  • High Blood Pressure

    Now we know that chia seeds are extensively rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that do the job of thinning the blood in the body and tend to decrease the blood pressure.

    Though the risk factor is that excessive consumption of chia seeds can rather harm the density of your blood and make it too thin.

    Another study that doctors and scientists are still on a study of chia seeds’ effect on blood pressure which makes these seeds even more vulnerable and unpredictable.

  • Digestive Issues

    Chia seeds are extremely rich in nutrients and every single nutrient in them helps the human body in an exponential power.

    The exterior of the seeds makes it hard for a person to digest chia seeds since it is difficult for organs to break down, release, and digest the seeds.

    Even though this fact is pretty much the same for all the seeds, the exterior of chia seeds is a little tougher than the others in the league.

    It is recommended for people to soak the chia seeds in water with a duration varying from an hour to overnight to make them properly digestible.

    Alongside soaking one can also go for sprouted chia seeds for intake since germination optimizes the protein content and calcium in them.

    It could provide more value to the user but direct consumption of chia seeds is hard and fatal.

    Because it is too dry and warm, chia seeds could cause[9] stomach irritations and digestive problems with choking problems.

  • Risk Of Prostate Cancer

    It is observed by scientists that chia seeds contain high quantities[10] of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).

    A high presence of alpha-linolenic acid in the body makes a person prone to prostate cancer which makes the consumption of chia seeds fatal for our health.

    Yet, a mild to moderate intake of chia seeds increases the risk[11] of prostate cancer for the consumer.

Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts

These tiny black or white seeds are very highly rich in nutritional content with nutrition ranging from 2 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fat per tablespoon to vitamin B3 in high quality and quantity.

With being gluten-free, sugar-free, and cholesterol-free chia seeds become an optimal choice for healthy snacking and a healthy food diet.

The impressive nutritional profile[1] of chia seeds per 15 g also adds up with a high fiber content of 5 grams and omega fatty acids.

This can be good for people suffering from diabetes since it controls and lowers the cholesterol in the bloodstream of the body.

Chia seed is a good replacement for salmon fish since it has way more omega fatty acids in it than the salmon fish itself.

It has 6 percent more iron than spinach and 6 percent more calcium than milk. Antioxidants are twice the amount present in blueberries.

Are Chia Seeds Good For You?

Yes, they are great for humans. Their nutritional value speaks for itself. Chia seeds are highly popular for their health benefits.

They are one of the safest seeds you can consider including in your diet. Chia seeds are exceptionally good for you till you eat them in moderate amounts.

Some of the benefits of eating chia seeds are

  • They are high in fiber and hence are good[12] for digestion purposes. They are highly nutritious and can act as a natural supplement for the body.
  • They can be safely eaten by pregnant ladies as it is one of the best foods to eat during pregnancy and children could also consume the same.
  • They could also act as a natural cure for diabetes by reducing[6] blood sugar levels. They are keto diet-friendly and can be used as a substitute for eggs.

However, too much consumption can lead to digestive issues, lowering your blood sugar level to the extreme. It may also increase the risk of choking and prostate cancer.

How To Eat Chia Seeds?

There is no hard and fast rule for consuming chia seeds. The best part about them is that they can be eaten raw.

You can consume them at any time of the day according to your needs.

If you are eating them to stay energetic throughout the day for weight loss, eat them in the morning on an empty stomach.

If you are suffering from insomnia and looking for better sleep quality, have them at night.

Drink plenty of water with chia seeds as they are dry and produce heat in the body.

This can increase, both, the risk of choking and digestive issues.

For avoiding such issues or in case of weak digestion, consider soaking them overnight in water and eating them the next day.

Another option is to eat chia seed sprouts for plenty of nutrition. For toddlers and others having difficulty swallowing, chia seed powder can be consumed with water.

They can also be added to smoothies, salads, and pancakes. You can also try the delicious chia seed jam. Do not exceed the limit of two tablespoons a day.

Tasty Chia Seeds Recipes

  1. Chia Pudding

    Everyone has their variation of Chia pudding. Here we will look at two of the most simple and tasty recipes.

    For the first one-

    • Take 1/4th cup of Chia seeds and one cup of milk.
    • Add them to a container.
    • Now add one tablespoon of honey and give it a good mix.
    • Keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
    • After you take the container out, the chia seeds will be swollen but still crunchy.
    • Add fruits like strawberries, blueberries, or mangoes to it.
    • Add a spoon of granola.
    • The nice and creamy pudding is ready. Enjoy.

    For the next one-

    • Take curd/ plain yogurt.
    • Add chia seeds and a tablespoon of honey to it.
    • Take a glass, put a scoop of this mixture in it and add a layer of chopped mangoes.
    • Repeat the process till your glass is full.
    • You can also add a pinch of cinnamon powder for flavor.

    Note: Consider experimenting with the pudding with other healthy ingredients like coconut powder, protein powder, etc.

  2. Pancakes

    Everyone has a different take on the pancakes as well. Let us consider a fit for all quick recipes here.

    • Take some flour( wheat flour, plain flour, or oat flour), and add some chia seeds to it.
    • Add baking powder to the mix.
    • Next, add some plant-based milk like almond or soy milk.
    • Add stevia or any other healthy sugar of your choice.
    • Finally, add a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to the batter.
    • Take a preheated pan, add a few drops of oil and pour the batter onto it.
    • Let it cook till you see bubbles on it.
    • It will take around 2-3 minutes. Now flip the pancake to cook it evenly on the other side. Healthy and fluffy pancakes are ready.

    Note: To make oil-free pancakes, take a non-stick pan.

  3. Smoothies

    Now, chia seeds are known to go well with a combination of fruits adding a crunchy and nutty flavor to smoothies.

    • To make a mango, banana, or strawberry smoothie, pick a fruit of your choice.
    • Add half a cup of chopped fruit, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, and milk.
    • You can opt for both dairy and non-dairy milk.
    • If you choose a nice, fresh and ripe fruit, there is no need to add sugar. Rest is your call.
    • Blend smooth and enjoy.
    • Top it up with some more chia seeds if you like it crunchy.

    Note: One smoothie may provide you with 8 grams of fiber and 4 grams of proteins( just chia seeds).

How Many Calories Does Chia Seeds Have

A general serving i.e. two tablespoons contains[13] 138 calories which is a moderate amount.

Some people believe that they can cause weight gain due to the number of calories they provide. But, it is not true.

They have more calories but not carbohydrates.

Additionally, they are rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids which are great for weight loss. The seeds make you feel full for a long time.

This means that they have the potential to decrease the amount of food intake.

But one must remember to eat them in moderate amounts and not stuff them into everything unnecessarily.

What Do Chia Seeds Do?

Chia seeds are a herbal supplement that brings along multiple benefits[14] for humans.

It boosts satiety which aids in weight loss, just a tablespoon of these seeds gives 2 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fiber along with iron, magnesium, and antioxidants.

They have a positive impact on the body. Along with nutrition they take care of heart health and nourish the skin and hair.

It lowers insulin levels and improves digestion due to the presence of fiber.

It is relatively a safe seed to be consumed.

However, you should always consider asking your doctor or dietician before consuming them.

Conclusion

To conclude, we have studied that despite its usage and popularity in the health industry, excessive consumption of chia seeds can cause significant problems ranging from stomach issues to prostate cancer and weight gain. 

However, a mild to moderate intake of chia seeds gives you significant rewards for your health due to the presence of many nutrients and fibers that tend to eradicate substantial health problems like diabetes and turn out as a boon for patients. 

They are generally safe to be consumed for every age group. Even pregnant ladies and kids can consume chia seeds.

So the bottom line is that one should smartly consume these seeds or use flaxseed which is an excellent substitute for chia seeds.

+11 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. Rahman Ullah, M. Nadeem,corresponding author 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
  2. 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
  3. Bartosz Kulczyński, Joanna Kobus-Cisowska, Maciej Taczanowski, et al. The Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds—Current State of Knowledge Nutrients. 2019 Jun; 11(6): 1242. Published online 2019 May 31. doi: 10.3390/nu11061242
  4. Marc P McRae Dietary Fiber Is Beneficial for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses J Chiropr Med. 2017 Dec;16(4):289-299. doi: 10.1016/j.jcm.2017.05.005. Epub 2017 Oct 25. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29276461/
  5. Oliviert Martínez-Cruz, Octavio Paredes-López Phytochemical profile and nutraceutical potential of chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.) by ultra high performance liquid chromatography J Chromatogr A. 2014 Jun 13;1346:43-8. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2014.04.007. Epub 2014 Apr 13. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24811150/
  6. V Vuksan, A L Jenkins, A G Dias, et al. Reduction in postprandial glucose excursion and prolongation of satiety: possible explanation of the long-term effects of whole grain Salba (Salvia Hispanica L.) Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Apr;64(4):436-8. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2009.159. Epub 2010 Jan 20. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20087375/
  7. 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. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2838232/
  8. 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. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31117490/
  9. Jing Yang, Hai-Peng Wang, Li Zhou, et al. Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: A meta analysis World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Dec 28; 18(48): 7378–7383. Published online 2012 Dec 28. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i48.7378
  10. Joel A Simon, Yea-Hung Chen, Stephen Bent. The relation of alpha-linolenic acid to the risk of prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1558S-1564S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736E. Epub 2009 Mar 25. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19321563/
  11. Colleen Pelser, Alison M. Mondul, Albert R. Hollenbeck, et al. Dietary Fat, Fatty Acids and Risk of Prostate Cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 Apr; 22(4): 697–707. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-1196-T
  12. Semih Otles, Selin Ozgoz Health effects of dietary fiber Acta Sci Pol Technol Aliment. Apr-Jun 2014;13(2):191-202. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24876314/
  13. Chia seeds FDC Published:10/30/2020 Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1100612/nutrients
  14. Ma Ángeles Valdivia-López, Alberto Tecante Chia (Salvia hispanica): A Review of Native Mexican Seed and its Nutritional and Functional Properties Adv Food Nutr Res. 2015;75:53-75. doi: 10.1016/bs.afnr.2015.06.002. Epub 2015 Aug 5. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26319904/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Go to top