Yes, You Can Eat Too Much Chia Seed

September 12, 2018
Well

Chia seeds have become a ubiquitous superfood and mainstay in many health food recipes. Recently they’ve also become the source of fear amongst those who’ve heard horror stories about the perils of overconsumption. Today, we set the record straight.

WHY CHIA SEEDS ARE GREAT

Chia seeds deliver heart healthy omegas fats, protein, fiber and a plethora of key nutrients. Additionally, they are credited with helping reduce cardiovasular disease and commonly used by vegans as an egg replacement. 

One 2 tablespoon serving of chia seeds delivers:

  • 140 calories
  • 4 grams of protein
  • 10+ grams fiber 
  • 7 grams of unsaturated fat
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and all nine amino acids that our body needs but cannot make itself.
  • Essential vitamins and minerals, including: calcium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, copper, potassium, and vitamins A, B, E and D.

WHY PEOPLE ARE FREAKED ABOUT OVER CONSUMPTION

There are horror stories floating around about people who ate so many chia seeds they had to receive medical treatment for serious intestinal distress. While I could find no evidence of someone dying of a chia seed overdose, it is true that consuming too many seeds can causes digestive problems because the seeds expand so vastly in our bodies that our internal organs cannot keep up, thus getting blocked, rupturing or becoming highly irritated. A 2014 case report profiled a patient who ate dry chia seeds followed by a glass of water, which subsequently expanded in the esophagus and caused a blockage. Removing such a blockage has to be done via an endoscopic procedure – AKA, no thank you! Also validating the old saying, that yes, you can indeed have too much of a good thing…

WHY YOU SHOULD BE CAUTIOUS

Because chia seeds can absorb over 12x their weight in liquid and expand so much, it is wise to be mindful about how many you eat in a day. The combination of the superfood’s high fiber content and water absorption creates a gel-like substance that, if too large, can strain the digestive system – leading to gas, bloat and sometimes abdominal distension or blockages. These symptoms are especially pronounced for folks with chronic digestive inflammation, IBS, Crohn’s disease, etc.

HOW MUCH YOU CHIA SEED YOU CAN SAFELY EAT IN A DAY

The nutrient rich nature of chia seeds means you that get great health benefits from one serving. And because there are moderate to severe risks associated with over-consumption, saying within a consumption range of 1-1.5 servings daily is wise.

This means: No more than 2 or 3 tablespoons/daily, with more severe restriction if you have problems swallowing or with digestion of high-fiber foods.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOUR BELOVED CHIA PUDDING

First and foremost, check the recipe! If making it yourself, opt for recipes that yield no more than 2 tablespoons of chia seed per serving. If eating a pudding prepared by others, limit consumption to 1/2 cup. Try substituting chia seeds with sesame, flax or poppy seeds for a similar crunch.

HOW TO ENJOY CHIA SEEDS WITH MINIMAL DISCOMFORT 

  • Never eat them raw, ALWAYS soak them before ingesting.
  • Drink a lot of water with any chia meal, smoothing or snack to prevent a super dense gel from forming in your belly.
  • Don’t eat food high in chia seeds for consecutive days, give your body a chance to work through what you consumed the day before.

Try these FIT approved smoothies that are loaded with superfoods but no chia!

Images by HonestlyFIT

Great article! Eating dry chia seeds sounds awful. I like having one tablespoon with my yogurt and its good to know that is actually the right amount.

Thank you!

My daughter made me some with coconut I love it uh I thou ate almost all of it ride a uninformed wave these days next ha adept ha

Do you have to strain the seeds before adding them to drink or yogurt and what happens if you dont. I have read to soak them then strain but it doesnt say why.

I can’t imagine eating dry chia seeds, even followed by copious amounts of liquid. I also don’t know why it would be suggested to strain them. Chia seeds have improved my digestion dramatically. I eat at least two tablespoons a day, soaked first in almond milk, then mixed with my steel cut oats. As long as I am well hydrated, I can consume considerably more, with no negative side effects. I make a pudding using a protein drink and chia seeds only… easy as can be, which I often eat once or twice a day.
I believe in moderation in all things, including eating. Try something, and add more if you tolerate it well. As far as I’ve been able to discern from my research, the only people who may want to talk to their doctor about chia seeds before consuming them are those with diabetes or low blood pressure, and that’s only because it can lower both blood sugar and blood pressure, so they may need to make adjustments to their medication doses. Otherwise, follow the directions and soak them, and hydrate yourself. ANY high fiber food requires plenty of hydration.

Hi. I’ve been taking chia seeds for a month and taking them 4×s a day for weight loss is that too much intake, and how times do I need to take chia seeds to help me loose weight!!!

You only take about 2 tablespoons of chia seeds daily for all the benefits of losing weight

If the 2 T a day help weight loss how does it affect a person who does not need to lose weight ?
Also wondered if a person with diverticulitis can use these. ?
?

You need to at least do 2-3 tablespoons if you consume a lot you might get constipated

Hello,
I have been adding 2/3 tablespoons to about 16 oz of water each day and drinking it after it starts to soften up.
I didn’t think you could take more than this amount daily. I love the texture and taste/bit crunchy.
Have you lost weight, and how long have you been taking them, (one month)?
Thanks
J

How long should you soak chia seeds for before consuming?

I always soak mine overnight minimum. They say good chia will gel on it’s own, but I don’t notice it gelling enough. I add a ton of water to about 2-3 tea not table spoons. Then I add almond milk or more water before I eat it. There is always a clump of dry seeds even if I stir before refrigeration, but most of the seeds are puffy and yummy. I love them when I am sick of normal breakfast. I have used them occasionally in a smoothie or recipe, but didn’t usually care for those. Chia pudding a couple times a week saturated in water is what I would advise. Easy ready to go breakfast, but don’t eat it daily for life.

I am a 68 year old woman. Should I consume 2 dry tablespoons of chia seeds a day or 2 tablespoons of the soaked chia seeds?

It sounds pretty clear to me that you should avoid dry chia seeds! and start with a small amount of soaked ones.

Kathy
I have been having one dessert spoon of dry chia seeds with my cereal daily to stop constipation for which I thought was helping me but after a few weeks I started to get very bad stomach pains together with large bowel movement which has made me feel very unwell I’m afraid that will be the end of my chia seed experience. I’m not sure if I should get any medical reference to this happening. I feel quite ill actually.

My horror story

Thank you for writing this post. I would like to add my chia horror story so that people know to be cautious.

7 days ago I ate a chia pudding for the first time.

About 24 hours after eating, the pain started in my colon. Unbearable PAIN.

My colon was full of this stone-hard material that I had to manually remove piece by piece.

It had me bedridden for a week with lots of pain.

Chia is a marketed birds’ food that should never be consumed by people.

It has nutrients? So, what? So many soft and easy passing fruits have nitrients without risking health.

I hope this helps.

As I lay in bed at 3:15am I’m reading this. I ate an entire cup of chia pudding and in the worst pain of my life. Drinking water and trying to flush it out. So many health bloggers post about recipes for chia pudding but I had no idea there was a limit to tablespoons of how much can be eaten. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’ll never make this mistake again.

Marina,
I’ve been taking chia seeds for about a week as the pain killers I was on for back pain were constipating me. I think I took too many yesterday and am now is so much pain.
What did you do to get rid of them?
Regards
Noreen

If you had severe pain it is because the hard stools were in your intestines already. The chia seeds would soften the new stools and these soft ones are trying to pudh out but are blocked by the hard ones already in there. Once the hard ones come out, if you take chia regularly and drink plenty I’d fluid this should never happen again. Don’t give up on it. The health benefits far outweigh this problem. It just takes time to figure how many are good for your own particular system. Start gradually and you will love the way they make you feel. Your system will be regulated and you will get less migraines because of the magnesium in them

Not true at all. Having completely normal stool &.bm’s. I heard wonderful benefits of this so, over a week ago I started eating chia pudding(seeds soaked in almond milk 24hrs in advance). I loved it & started eating it every day. I have now been severely constipated for 3 days. Just now finally was able to empty my bowels with more pain and blood from tearing than I had delivering 3babies. Not saying chia seeds are type bad for anyone. But every person is different & too much chia CAN cause severe constipation. Not just from the stool already in your bowels….ALLLLL chia

Dr. Brooke Goldner is using her hypernourishing, anti-inflammatory diet to cure people of autoimmune disease (https://goodbyelupus.com/?s2-ssl=yes). Her diet includes daily smoothies made with at least 1/2 cup of chia, ground in the blender with water and a lot of cruciferous greens. I have longstanding problems with digestion (leaky gut, microscopic colitis, celiac disease), and although i’ve been on her diet for only 13 days, my digestion is already better than it’s been for the past 35 years.

Well this article and the comments just made me go and try to puke out 300ml of my very first chia seeds pudding.

When measuring for drinking; before soaking in water, milk or juice it is 1 1/2 Tbsp? When the seeds expand do you measure again 1 1/12 Tbsp? or just drink the whole thing? 8 ounces liquid to 1 1/2 Tbsp of chai seeds. Then drink once daily before you eat breakfast? Do you wait 30 before eating breakfast?

I don’t knowshy the article doesn’t mention this, but if you soak chia seeds thoroughly before consuming they’re not going to gel up more in your stomach, because they were already fully gelled before you ate them–they’ve already absorbed all the liquid they can. I mix 1/4 cup chia seeds with 2 cups water, refrigerate for about 24 hrs (checking it omce or twice and adding more water if I can see some seeds haven’t fully gelled). I add 1/4th of the soaked seeds (increasing slowly to 1/2 a cup) to my green smoothies daily. My digestive issues have vastly improved since I started doing this. I never eat them dry.

I love chia pudding for breakfast with fresh fruit. I do not eat but 2 tbsp in 1/2 cup of Almond Milk overnight. I add fresh berries and cinnamon and a little Stevia in the morning. It is delicious. With everything do not overdo, you shouldn’t have any more than 2 tbsp a day soak in water or milk, almond milk whatever. I do not eat it more than 3 times a week. You have to drink lots of water thru out the day. I like having it before I go for a bike ride, it keeps me full for hours. It is healthy and easy to prepare. Just don’t over do it. Enjoy it in small amounts to get use to it. For every tbsp of chia seed add 1/4 liquid or more if you like it wetter.

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