What Are The Side Effects Of Chia Seeds?

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Can Eating Chia Seeds Have A Downside?

The tiny chia seed is a superfood which can help with weight loss, diabetes, and hypercholesteremia. Each serving gives you a healthy dose of fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, it may bring on constipation, flatulence, diarrhea, and an allergic reaction. Chia seeds can also cause thinning of your blood. They could even be a choking hazard if you don't prep the seeds correctly.

Chia seeds, a superfood dating back to Aztec times, is now enjoying a rebirth of sorts. It features in every nutritional A-list as a rich source of fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Granted, chia seeds are a great source of nutrition as part of a balanced diet. They are also constantly marketed as a weight-loss aid and scoffed down in large quantities by weight watchers. But you can have too much of a good thing, and this superfood is no exception. Here are some side effects you need to watch out for.

5 Downsides Of Chia Seeds

1. Tummy Troubles

Chia seeds are very high in fiber content – at nearly 11 gm per ounce serving, it takes care of a sizeable chunk of the American Dietetic Association’s recommended fiber intake of 38 g for men and 25 g for women for the day.1But a high-fiber diet doesn’t work for every body type. Too much fiber in one go can lead to flatulence, constipation, and diarrhea. It’s a good idea to eat chia seeds with a lot of water or soak them first. Soaking makes it easier to digest them. It also offers the added benefit of releasing all the nutrients stored inside.2

2. Blood Thinning Effect

Chia seeds can act as natural blood thinners, helping prevent your blood from clotting. If you are already taking blood-thinning medication like warfarin, steer clear of chia. For the same reasons, avoid chia seeds right after a surgery to avoid excessive bleeding.3

3. Allergy Alert

Chia seeds have a lot of protein in them and that’s bad news if you are allergic to the protein in chia. A 100 gm serving has about 16.54 gm of protein.4For those with a nut or seed allergy, chia seeds may be off the table. Get tested to check anyway. Reactions can range from skin rashes and hives to watery eyes, vomiting, and diarrhea. Also watch out for repetitive coughing, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, and a hoarse throat. You may also feel dizzy. As inflammation flares up in the larynx, tongue, and mouth, you could find it difficult to talk and even breathe. If your allergy is more severe, you may go into shock, your pulse may weaken, and your skin may turn pale or blue.5

4. Choking Hazard

Chia seeds have gained notoriety as a choking hazard. As one Time magazine report highlighted, incorrect consumption can lead to complications.6When you don’t pre-soak your chia seeds or eat them without roasting, you run the risk of gagging or choking on them. You may even end up in the ER as a result. Why? Because the seed when dry and unroasted absorbs as much as 27 times its dry weight in water. When this happens it turns gelatinous and expands hugely, plump with water. This sticky mass can get stuck in your esophagus, making you choke.7

5. Prostate Problems

The case for and against chia when it comes to prostate cancer isn’t closed just yet. While some research indicates it could decrease the risk of prostate tumor growth, other research contradicts this. For instance, one study indicated that consuming foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like chia seeds, could trigger prostate tumorigenesis in men. This could imply an increased incidence of prostate cancer.8Previous research had a contradictory view. Researchers claimed that the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid did not increase prostate cancer risk and believed it even marginally decreased the risk.9The jury is still out on this one, but you may want to hold off on binging on chia.

How Much, How Often?

On the whole, the chia seed is a powerhouse of goodness. No wonder every nutritionist loves it. Ayurveda also recommends adding chia to your regular diet, conscious of its high fiber effects. But since the superfood is still not fully understood, additional studies will be needed before it can be declared safe for consumption by those with certain conditions like high triglycerides and low blood pressure, and even pregnant women.

Just ensure you don’t rely only on chia for your daily fiber intake. If you are aiming to lose weight, having more of it won’t lose you much. After all, you will have added on extra calories from the seeds as well. Typically, 1–1.5 tablespoon taken up to twice a day should be fine for most people. That’s the equivalent of a 20 gm serving that has 139 calories each time.10

References   [ + ]

1.Slavin, J. L. “Position of the American Dietetic Association: health implications of dietary fiber.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 108, no. 10 (2008): 1716-1731.
2.Eswaran, Shanti, Jane Muir, and William D. Chey. “Fiber and functional gastrointestinal disorders.” The American Journal of Gastroenterology 108, no. 5 (2013): 718-727.
3.Healthy Food Trends: Chia Seeds, MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.
4.Seeds, chia seeds, dried, USDA.
5.Food Allergy, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
6.You’ll Never Guess What Chia Seeds Can Do To Your Esophagus, Time (2014).
7.Watch It Grow: Esophageal Impaction With Chia Seeds, American College of Gastroenterology.
8.Brasky, Theodore M., Amy K. Darke, Xiaoling Song, Catherine M. Tangen, Phyllis J. Goodman, Ian M. Thompson, Frank L. Meyskens et al. “Plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in the Select trial.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 105, no. 15 (2013): 1132-1141.
9.Carayol, Marion, Pascale Grosclaude, and Cyrille Delpierre. “Prospective studies of dietary alpha-linolenic acid intake and prostate cancer risk: a meta-analysis.” Cancer Causes & Control 21, no. 3 (2010): 347-355.
10.Chia seeds and nutrition, Columbia University.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

Post a Comment
Bloomerl 5pts

I just switched recently from flax seed to chia seed for adding fiber to my diet.  I learned two things very quickly:  1]  grind the seeds, do not ingest them whole and, 2] make sure your fluid intake is adequate.  Other than that, I'll look forward to my annual lab work to see if any of my not so great numbers have grown healthier.

amirimizan 5pts

Your top two reasons are in relation to the Western medical establishment. By now everybody knows that is a sick-care system. Healthy living is all about preventive care. So why should we be on guard with chia, a powerful antioxidant? Any misuse factor is minimal at best. Your own article says so, and you end up talking about its benefits.

ShaneWalker 5pts

How the heck do they identify an "increased risk of prostrate cancer"?  Some one please help me to understand this phrase?  How do you measure an increased risk?!?!?  You either have prostrate cancer or you don't.  There is no, "Oh, I'm sorry sir, you need to stop eating Chia seeds because you almost have cancer."  WHAT?!?!  Stupid articles.

Shelly83 5pts

It means that people who have gotten prostate cancer were monitored and their diets assessed and they were found to have eaten chia seeds often enough that it suggests a correlation between cancer and eating the seeds in a significant amount. Occasionally eating chia shouldn't be a problem, they're saying that eating them regularly could increase your risk of prostate cancer because of their high levels of alpha-linolenic acid.

Jinnjinn 5pts

Sounds like I can stop taking my prescriptions as the Chia seeds have less ads effects and prostate cancer is fro sitting on your ass period!

bill anderson
bill anderson 5pts

The side effects of Chia seed? What studies have been done to qualify these statements? 

Gastrointestinal; my experience has been those who have reported these effects were relative in terms of needing to have a healthy bowl movement. A Laxative effect can cause the same distress, it is taken when you need help to eliminate is not a side effect. Chia was doing as expected, if continued to eat Chia it will promote regular, healthy and complete evacuation without the distress. Prostate cancer? There have been a number of studies proving that diets high in Omega 3's and fiber may help men reduce their risk of prostate cancer. A Duke University Medical Center pilot study concluded that even short-term changes to a high-fiber/Omega 3-supplemented diet resulted in prostate cancer cells that did not divide as quickly as those in people not on the diet. SHLS, with its high Omega 3 and fiber content, is an easy and simple way to include these necessary nutritional benefits into your daily diet. Mild blood thinner, yes, but does not corrupt the coagulation of blood like the prescription thinners do. Allergic reactions; I have taken and work with Chia since 1969, and there is a 3500 year old history of Chia, I have never read or know of anyone with this kind of reaction. In evaluating the comments made about Chia, I think the number of people who have been included in studies, the percentage of those people who report an allergic reaction, specific to Chia need to be included.  Making a relevant conclusion needs to include solid data drawn from people which include any medical diagnosis or symptoms that were present before the findings of side effects or disease.

Nguyễn Minh Quân
Nguyễn Minh Quân 5pts

Tks ad of Curejoy...I think it is 647, and you? test now... NpAxDsS \U0001f449 start now. ~~> http://goo.gl/BnFo0w ... good article of page: What Are The Side Effects Of Chia Seeds?...

AnaNas1 5pts

They are healthy and great and why would sane person be on an aspirin regimen in the first place, and why would a super food used for thousands of years by ancient cultures have these scary side effects, instead of this it would be better to see on this site how much and which type is better for you :)

Catalina Hernandez
Catalina Hernandez 5pts

Do not abuse good things or else they turn in to abad thing...moderation

Ayurveda 5pts

They are but they also have certain side effects :)

Donza Grant
Donza Grant 5pts

It's great everybody is trying to be health conscious but I can only imagine them on a Chia Pet. Maybe I need to get with it.

Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown 5pts

Yummy chia seeds with almond milk, bananas, vanilla extract and cinnamon. I'm gonna eat some right now!

Shilpa Chandravanshi
Shilpa Chandravanshi 5pts

What are these side effects associated quantity? I take 1-2 tbsp a day pre soaked so more interested in knowing what quantity can pose any of the cited risks and also supporting studies for them will be useful too..!

Sunita Modani Ruse
Sunita Modani Ruse 5pts

Can you cite any sources to back up your claims? By what percentage does prostate cancer increase? And what dosage of chia seeds? A pound/week or a tbsp/day? How statistically significant were the results of that ONE study? How many studies did that ONE meta analysis review? What do you consider an "alarming" diastolic blood pressure? This article brings up a lot of questions for me.

Ayurveda 5pts

Roze Khan Sabja Beej in Hindi! :)

Ayurveda 5pts

Kristin Twomey Dubois We agree with you and will edit suitably! Indeed we are only talking about Type 2 here!

Gloria Menz
Gloria Menz 5pts

Thanks I needed to know...so far so good!

Kristin Twomey Dubois
Kristin Twomey Dubois 5pts

I wish when articles claim something can cure diabetes it differentiates between Type 1, which is an autoimmune disease and has no cure, and Type 2 which is a metabolic disorder and can be controlled (sometimes) with diet and/or meds.

Rajashri Mitkar
Rajashri Mitkar 5pts

Oh! So,it is sabza! Now I got the real name ! Thanks Mona.

Rachelle Maxey
Rachelle Maxey 5pts

For weight loss''blood sugars,,omgea3,,rebuilds cells,,sugar cravings

Ansuaya Quissor
Ansuaya Quissor 5pts

What is it good for weight loss and diabetes please tell

Rajashri Mitkar
Rajashri Mitkar 5pts

What are chia seeds?any commen name in Hindi / Marathi for it?

Sukanya Kulkarni
Sukanya Kulkarni 5pts

as giving them tulsi beej makes their body too much cold that sometimes make them have cold...

Sukanya Kulkarni
Sukanya Kulkarni 5pts

oohhh.... ookk.... now this is serious for me to understand as in india sabja seeds are used to help reduce too much acidity or ushnata heat in the abdomen that may also be leading to indigestion.... and this is important for me to know as i give it to my pets dogs as they have frequent stomach problem of indigestion and eat wild grass... now can u suggest what herb then should i feed my pets to ease their stomach disorder

Stephi Davis
Stephi Davis 5pts

You start growing green hair!!...kidding!!..you know Chia plants right??!!

Zainab Shah
Zainab Shah 5pts

Should i use it or not..can anyone tell me..wants to take 1 tbsp with milk

Ayurveda 5pts

Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala Fauzia Ali :)

Ayurveda 5pts

Lindsey Wayman Thanks!:)