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

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