The Benefits, Uses and Side Effects of Chia Seeds You Need to Know

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Chia seeds can be highly beneficial for your health. After all, they are packed with omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, and antioxidants which provide protection from the free radical damage that results in accelerated signs of aging and cancer. [1]

Despite the nutritional profile of chia seeds, it’s important to know the dangers of consuming chia seeds, especially if you plan on adding them to your diet regularly. Eating too many chia seeds can result in a range of health problems.

In this article you will discover the shocking side effects of chia seeds. If you’ve been struggling with digestive issues, itching, swelling or blood sugar issues after consuming chia seeds, this article will teach you why.

We’ll explain the main side effects of eating chia seeds and why these occur, as well as how to consume chia seeds safely to gain optimal health benefits.

We will cover:

  • What are chia seeds?

  • What is the nutritional profile of chia seeds

  • What are the benefits of chia seeds

  • What are the side effects of chia seeds

  • How you can consume chia seeds safely

What are Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are small black seeds obtained from the Salvia hispanica plant, originating from South and Central America. They can be easily added to many of your daily meals and snacks, including smoothies, oats and desserts – people love to consume them due to their nutrients.

The Nutritional Profile of Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are an amazing source of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium and antioxidants. Additionally, chia seeds also contain vitamins A, B, E, and D. In 100 grams of chia seeds, there is approximately 16.5 grams of protein, 7.7 mg of iron and 631 mg of calcium.

Chia seeds are often marketed as a superfood due to their nutritional content. Thanks to their nutrient profile, they deliver an array of benefits for your health.

The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Research has shown that chia seeds deliver an abundance of health benefits, including;

  • Promoting healthy skin – the antioxidants in chia seeds have been found to prevent up to 70 percent of free radicals, meaning that premature skin aging related to this activity is significantly reduced. [2]

  • Maintaining heart health – chia seeds have the ability to regulate cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure, thanks to their high omega 3 fat content. In lowering inflammation and aiding cholesterol and blood pressure, chia seeds help to promote a healthy heart.

  • Enhancing energy levels – research has shown that chia seeds boost exercise performance during 90 minute workouts in the same way an energy drink would, but without the addition of refined sugar. [3]

  • Increasing metabolism – consuming chia seeds daily boosts your metabolism and aids weight loss.

  • Building muscle – chia seeds are a great source of protein, making an excellent snack for those trying to build lean muscle.

  • Strengthening bones – An ounce of chia seeds equals 18 percent the daily recommended amount of calcium, which is required for bone health. Calcium is also great for the health of your teeth.

Despite these health benefits, chia seeds also have some surprising side effects that could potentially harm your health.

The Side Effects of Chia Seeds

You may be surprised to know that chia seeds have health warnings. Here are some of the shocking side effects of chia seeds;

High omega 3 fatty acid intake may be associated with prostate cancer

Chia seeds are packed with an omega 3 acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). While this has been shown to aid good heart and brain health, some clinical research has found a link between ALA and prostate cancer.

One observational study revealed that male participants with a high blood concentration of ALA had an increased risk of suffering with prostate cancer than patients with a low blood concentration of ALA. [4] 

However, another study stated that people who have an increased ALA intake have a lower risk of prostate cancer. [5]

The first study did not take into account other health factors that may have contributed to the higher risk of prostate cancer so this may explain the conflicting evidence.

Chia seed allergies

Some people may be allergic to chia seeds without realizing. While allergies to chia seeds are rare, symptoms that can occur include itching, swelling, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Severe food allergies can cause difficulty breathing. One man was documented as consuming chia seeds for lowering cholesterol, however, he later experienced shortness of breath, swelling and hives. [6]

Too much chia can cause digestive issues

As chia seeds are packed with fiber, those with inflammatory bowel diseases should consume only small amounts of chia as too much fiber may cause indigestion, bloating and abdominal pain.

Too much chia can interact with medication

If you take medication for blood sugar, you’ll want to limit your intake of chia seeds. Research has demonstrated that chia seeds can lower blood sugar levels. [7]

Chia seeds contain fiber which slows down the absorption of sugar in the blood. Therefore, only moderate amounts of chia should be consumed if you’re taking diabetic medication.

How to Consume Chia Seeds Safely

It’s best to consume no more that 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of chia seeds, twice a day. Chia seeds are bursting with goodness and eating them in moderation will be highly beneficial to your health.

Simply ensure that you don’t rely on chia seeds for your intake of fiber (whole grains, nuts, berries, and popcorn are all excellent sources of fiber).

Additionally, if you are planning to lose weight, keep your chia seed intake to a minimum as they contain a lot of calories and fat.

Chia seed side effects are rare, but it’s important to know the health risks before consuming any dietary superfood.

If you’re on medication or notice any symptoms after eating chia seeds, contact a doctor immediately. If you’re looking to improve your health, eating chia seeds in moderation will be beneficial for your well-being.

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24811150

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24811150

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21183832

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4129658/

  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375280/

  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25898695

  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2838232

 

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