Are chia seeds bad for you?

In this article we will answer the question,”Are chia seeds bad for you?” We will explain what chia seeds are. We will also discuss some potential side effects of consuming a lot of chia seeds.

Are chia seeds bad for you?

No, chia seeds are not bad for you if moderately consumed. Chia seeds are extremely healthy and they are choking full with essential minerals, omega-3 fats, antioxidants and dietary fiber. But as with many foods, when you consume a lot of them, they can have some potential side effects.

What are chia seeds?

Chia seeds are also referred to as Salba chia and Mexican chia and are tiny black or white seeds that come from a desert plant known as Salva hispant native to South Mexico and Guatemala which is a member of the mint family.

Despite being tiny they are packed with nutrients such as high quality dietary fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, high quality proteins as well as antioxidants, minerals and essential vitamins.

What are some potential side effects of consuming a lot of chia seeds?

They can cause digestive issues

Chia seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber with a serving of 28 grams which one ounce delivering about 11 grams of fiber. Dietary fiber is essential for good health as it helps in the growth of good gut bacteria, assists in digestion and can prevent constipation.

However, too much fiber has its fair share of problems and can result in constipation, abdominal pain, diarrhea and a build up of gas. This is particularly worse if a high fiber diet is not consumed with adequate fluids because fluids assist in moving fiber in the digestive system.

People with inflammatory diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease need to take measures and take note of their fiber intakes and go slow on consumption of chia seeds during flare ups.

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can result in the digestive tract narrowing further leading to symptoms such as bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal pain and weight loss.

They are a choking hazard

Chia seeds are safe for consumption for the majority of the people, however if you consume a lot of them there can be an increased risk of choking. This is attributed to the fact that dry chia seeds gel up and swell to be about ten to 12 times in weight when in a liquid.

This property while it comes in handy when cooking or baking is potentially a big risk when consuming chia seeds. This is because they can swell up and get stuck in the throat.

It is therefore important to exercise caution when taking chia seeds and soak them for about 5 to 10 minutes before consumption. People who find swallowing difficult should be extra cautious when eating chia seeds.

They contain high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which has been linked with prostate cancer

Chia seeds are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). alpha-linolenic acid is a type of omega-3 fatty acid which is usually in many plant foods. Omega 3 fatty acids have a lot of health benefits to the body and have been shown to promote heart and cognitive health.

However studies have found an association between alpha-linolenic acid intake and development of prostate cancer. However the research has not been conclusive as it has only looked at association between  alpha-linolenic acid intake and prostate cancer although there are other factors that can play a role in the development of prostate cancer.

Some people might have chia allergy

Although it is not common, some people may experience an allergic reaction when they consume chia seeds. Chia seeds can as well cause cross-sensitization in people who already have sesame allergy. 

This means that people who have sesame allergy may as well have an allergic reaction when they consume chia seeds. 

Some symptoms associated with chia seeds allergy are:

  • Hives
  • Rashes
  • Watery eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling of the tongue

They can cause bleeding and a drop in blood pressure

This as a result of the presence of fatty acids which can act as a blood thinner. People who are taking  blood thinning medications such as Warfarin, Pradaxa, Eliquis etc, are to undergo surgery or are on a regime with aspirin should first consult a doctor before eating chia seeds or avoid them altogether.

Too much blood thinners can lead to excessive bleeding which is detrimental to health.


In this article we have answered the question,”Are chia seeds bad for you?” We have explained what chia seeds are. We have also discussed some potential side effects of consuming a lot of chia seeds.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.