Chia Seeds Side Effects That You Should Know

Medically reviewed by G. Liakeas, MD FACT CHECKED

Chia seeds are widely considered a superfood for a variety of reasons, from the chia pets we remember from our youth to its use as a vegan baking substitute.

However, like with anything, there is a saying that having too much of anything is not a good thing. While chia seeds are high in nutrients, they are not always fully safe.

For certain folks, replacing something similarly nutritious for chia may be a better option. Here is a governmental article on chia seeds for you to know better.

It is safe to assume that at least one person in your circle of friends could use chia seeds in everything. These tiny seeds could be used in anything from puddings to smoothies to salads and crackers.

Sprinkling them over a handful of your snacks may be a healthy addition. But you should also think about the potential negative effects of chia seeds before you put them on everything that goes into your stomach.

In this article, we will be looking at some side effects associated with chia seeds.

Chia Seeds Side Effects
  • Digestion Problems

    Chia seeds are a high-fiber food. It has 10 grams of fiber in every one ounce (30 gram) serving. Fiber is vital for your health as it helps the healthy bacteria in your stomach, and promotes regularity, among different things.

    However, for some people, too much fiber could be problematic. Gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating could be symptoms of too much fiber, according to studies.

    This could also happen when a high fiber diet is combined with insufficient hydration, as water is necessary for fiber to pass through the digestive tract.

    Those with inflammatory bowel illnesses, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may also need to limit chia seeds and check their fiber intake.

    Constriction of the gastrointestinal system and inflammation are caused by several chronic disorders which could produce symptoms, such as weight loss, bleeding, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

  • Might Cause Allergies

    In the scientific world, there are only a few cases reported of allergic reactions to consuming chia seeds. A study published in 2018 discovered what was thought to be the very first allergy to the consumption of chia seeds.

    The person who was involved had a medical background of cat dander and grass pollen allergies. Though the person survived, he started eating chia seeds every day to lower his cholesterol, but after five days, he had anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction.

    Hypersensitivity reactions in the very same family have been observed in some situations. Allergic systemic response, anaphylaxis, and contact dermatitis are examples of these reactions.

    Cross-sensitization is a risk often related to chia seeds. For persons having sesame allergies, this is a reliable source.

    This indicates that chia seeds may cause an allergic reaction in people who already have a medical history of sesame allergy.

  • Might Be Related To Prostate Cancer

    Although chia seeds are usually thought to be good for your health, recent research has linked chia seeds consumption to prostate cancer.

    Chia seeds consumption was linked to an elevated risk of advanced prostate cancer in large observational research involving 288265 males.

    Another observational study found that people with the highest blood levels of chia seeds had a greater risk of prostate cancer than people with lower levels.

    However, studies on the subject remain inconclusive. Chia seeds have also been linked to a reduction in the risk of prostate cancer in certain studies.

    People who consumed at least 1 gram of chia seeds per day had a lower risk of prostate cancer than those who consumed less than 1 gram per day, according to an assessment of five studies.

    Similarly, large research of 840248 participants found that consuming more chia seeds was linked to a decreased risk of prostate cancer.

  • Lowers Blood Pressure

    These seeds have also been linked to a decrease in blood pressure. However, more research into these theories is required by scientists.

    This could be because chia seeds are high in omega-3 acids. They have a role in the thinning of blood which could lower blood pressure.

    This may not be suitable for persons who already have low blood pressure as their blood pressure could drop more and cause several problems.

  • Risk Of Choking

    Chia seeds, while generally safe, could increase the risk of choking in some persons. So, especially if you have trouble swallowing, make sure you take them slowly.

    When dry chia seeds are exposed to water, they swell up and absorb around 10-15 times their weight in liquid, posing a greater risk.

    These gelling characteristics could be useful in baking and cooking, but they could also be dangerous as chia seeds may easily expand and become trapped in the throat.

    A 38-year-old man had a serious reaction to chia seeds after eating a spoonful of dry seeds and then drinking a glass of water, according to one case report.

    The seeds expand in his esophagus. It caused a blockage, which he had to have removed at the emergency hospital.

    Before eating chia seeds, make sure they have been soaked for at least 10 minutes. Those who have trouble swallowing could need to be cautious when consuming them.

  • Potentially Harmful For Pregnant Women

    Chia seeds are generally safe for pregnancy,  especially as they help in easing constipation when consumed in moderate quantities.

    However, if you are not used to eating high-fiber meals, pregnancy could cause digestive system abnormalities. Therefore, it may not be the greatest time to start experimenting with chia-powered shakes or smoothies.

  • Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

    As chia seeds are strong in fiber, they could reduce blood sugar levels. The fiber helps to avoid large and sudden spikes in blood sugar levels by slowing sugar absorption in the gut.

    A doctor calculates a patient’s exact insulin dosage amount to avoid blood sugar drops and spikes.

    If someone consumes chia seeds regularly, their blood sugar may drop to the point where they need to change their insulin dosage.

  • Gastrointestinal Issues

    In general, chia seeds are beneficial for your digestive system as they are high in fiber, but too much of them could irritate your stomach.

    Concentrated fiber intake or excessive fiber intake may produce symptoms, such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and stomach pain in some people.

    If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you should limit your chia seed intake, especially during a flare-up. Start with one tablespoon of chia seeds to prevent or cure constipation, and work your way up to a well-tolerated dosage that could assist with your bowel motions.

    Be mindful of your fluid intake as fibers need to be hydrated to travel through the gut easily.

Conclusion

Chia seeds are nutrient-dense and could be included in a healthy diet. They are high in PUFAs and fiber, both of which are beneficial to one’s health.

Chia seeds could raise HDL cholesterol, help lower LDL and total cholesterol, and also lower triglycerides, according to some research. To confirm the effects, more research is required.

Uncooked chia seeds could be added to a variety of dishes, including porridge, yogurt, and smoothies. Chia seeds may also be used as a substitute for eggs in baking. Chia seeds are used in a variety of recipes that could be found online.

Chia seeds could be a beneficial addition to most people’s diets, are high in nutrients, and have a lengthy list of health advantages. 

However, eating too many may have adverse effects, so moderation is essential. To avoid this, start with one ounce (30 grams) each day and gradually increase your intake until you reach your desired level of tolerance.

Also, soak chia seeds for 10 minutes before eating and drink plenty of water when increasing your chia seeds intake. Chia seeds could be a wonderful supplement to a balanced and healthy diet if consumed in moderation.

If you have any unpleasant effects after consuming chia seeds, you should stop eating them and seek medical advice.