6 Reasons Chia Seeds Can Be Bad

Chia seeds have become popular for many people. However, chia seeds can sometimes have an adverse effect on certain people.

Here are 6 reasons chia seeds can be bad:

  1. Digestive issues.
  2. Possible choking hazard.
  3. Allergic reactions.
  4. May cause adverse interactions with some medications.
  5. ALA intake may be associated with prostate cancer.
  6. Weight gain.

The rest of the article will examine these reasons in more detail, so you can understand how chia seeds can possibly be bad for your health.

Disclaimer: Always check with your physician about your nutrition or changing it.

Chia seeds on a spoon.
Chia seeds

6 Reasons Chia Seeds Can Be Bad

As a Certified Health Coach many clients ask me about healthy food including chia seeds. Therefore, I have researched this topic in the past and present. I also consume chia seeds myself. Let’s examine them closely.

1. Digestive Issues

Overall, chia seeds can positively affect digestive systems and the body’s ability to process food1. However, this does not hold true for everyone.

Dealing with problems in the digestive tract can cause much pain and discomfort. So let’s take a look at how chia seeds could possibly irritate the digestive system.

The outside texture of a chia seed could be difficult for some people to eat. It may not dissolve appropriately as the seed works its way through the body and then be properly digested2.

A simple solution to solving the problem is to drink lots of water with consumption. This will enable the body to digest the seeds easier.

They help with fiber in the body because it helps eliminate the bacteria in the gut. That is crucial for people to be healthy and wholesome.

Unfortunately, for certain people, too much fiber can result in uncomfortable pain in their abdomen. They may also experience diarrhea, constipation, gas, or upsetting bloating in the body3.

In regards to more digestive issues, those who suffer from illnesses like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis need to be conscious of how much chia seeds they consume during periods of flare-ups.

This will help their fiber intake lower and reduce symptoms during those times.

Always check with your physician about your nutrition or changing it.

Chia seeds in yogurt and on a spoon.
6 Reasons Why Chia Seeds Can Be Bad

2. Possible Choking Hazard

As tiny and minuscule as they are, chia seeds can be a choking hazard, believe it or not.

They can become bigger when they are consumed alongside water. Due to this, they could possibly cause choking.

The chia seeds absorb about ten times their weight in liquid and swell up when exposed to water4. 

It has been noted this has occurred before but in general there are not many recorded instances of this predicament.

One such occurrence is when a man ate a tablespoon of dry chia seeds and then drank a glass of water. The water caused the chia seeds to swell up and get caught in his esophagus. He has to visit the hospital to have it corrected5.

While choking on a chia seed is not incredibly common, it is something to be mindful of. It’s best to soak the chia seeds in water first for approximately ten minutes before eating them. This way they are already swelled up prior to consuming them.

People who already have difficulty swallowing need to be extra cautious in this regard. Some people have scar tissue or other issues already making the inside of the esophagus smaller.

chia seeds pudding with fruit
Chia seeds pudding with fruit

3. Allergic Reactions

Experiencing an allergic reaction to chia seeds is pretty rare, but it has happened6.

There has been a recorded case where the person experienced an allergic reaction and needed medical attention after three days of eating chia seeds. The person experienced shortness of breath, hives, swelling and dizziness.

Fortunately, he was okay and did not suffer prolonged symptoms.

Those who are allergic to other similar substances like sesame seeds may experience what is called “cross-sensitization.” 

This means due to being allergic to one type of seed, they are allergic or may have allergic reactions to another seed having commonalities.

Some of you may have allergic reactions to sesame seeds. If this is you, pay extra attention the next time you eat chia seeds or avoid them all together.

4. May Cause Adverse Interactions with Some Medications.

Blood Pressure

It is widely reported and confirmed that chia seeds can be very good for blood pressure. They contain fiber, magnesium, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, all beneficial for lowering blood pressure.

In another study researchers examined the addition of chia seeds and their association with the improvement of cardiovascular risk factors including blood pressure. The participants were given 37 grams of chia per day for 12 weeks. Their systolic pressure lowered 6.3 mmHg ((National Center for Biotechnology Information: Supplementation of conventional therapy with the novel grain Salba (Salvia Hispanic L.) improves major and emerging cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: results of a randomized controlled trial)).

If you have elevated blood pressure, you most likely take medication to help you manage this situation. The medicine enables you to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

Eating chia seeds can possibly interact with the blood pressure medication in a negative way.

The seeds may interact with the medicine and reduce its efficacy and its ability to regulate your blood pressure.

In addition, chia seeds may enhance the activity of blood pressure medications and lower blood pressure too much. This may lead to low blood pressure which can be just as dangerous as high BP.

If you suffer from high blood pressure, take medication for it and love chia seeds, you may want to avoid it. Always check with your physician about your nutrition or changing it. 

Hopefully, your physician will allow you to enjoy the seeds but be mindful of how much you consume.


Having diabetes affects certain aspects of a diabetic’s life. Taking precautions when consuming food and drinking beverages are necessary.

Chia seeds, which contain a high amount of fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar in the blood and lower levels of blood sugar. Studies have shown how chia seeds can lower blood sugar levels significantly7.

Attempting to adjust medications to stabilize blood sugar can be a challenge for some. Consuming a good amount of chia seeds can cause blood sugar to decrease requiring more adjustments to the medication dosages.

5. ALA Intake May Be Associated With Prostate Cancer

Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s consist of EPA, DHA and ALA. Chia seeds contain mostly ALA which may not be as beneficial as EPA and DHA.

Although studies have shown them beneficial8. In one study women who consumed high amounts of ALA reduced the risk of cardiac death by 40% ((Harvard: Chia Seeds)). Other studies have shown an association between ALA and prostate cancer.

A study which consisted of 288,268 men found an association between ALA intake and prostate cancer9. Another study found men with prostate cancer had higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids10.

It’s important to note other studies are conflicting. One review of previous studies showed a connection between lower risk of prostate cancer and higher ALA consumption11.

These studies didn’t examine other factors which could have impacted the results. More studies are needed to examine the relationship between prostate cancer and ALA intake.

6. Weight Gain

While chia seeds are mostly beneficial for most people, consuming many of them every day can lead to weight gain. The weight gain isn’t because of negative nutrients or macros. Like natural peanut butter, some healthy foods are high in calories.

One serving of chia seeds contains 150 calories. If you’re adding them to a smoothie or oatmeal, this can push the number of calories over the threshold allowed for you.

I know one person who was closely monitoring their caloric intake. They failed to calculate the calories from chia seeds because they thought the small seeds couldn’t be adding many calories to their oatmeal or yogurts.

Even though it’s a small food, the number of calories isn’t and should be calculated when watching calories closely.

If you have any questions to ask me about this article don’t hesitate to comment below or email us. You can find an email on our contact page.

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  1. Harvard T.H. Chan: Chia Seeds []
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Impact of Processing and Intestinal Conditions on in Vitro Digestion of Chia ( Salvia hispanica) Seeds and Derivatives []
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: A meta analysis []
  4. ScienceDirect: Physicochemical properties of a fibrous fraction from chia (Salvia Hispanic L.) []
  5. ResearchGate: Watch it grow: Esophageal impaction with chia seeds []
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Allergen characterization of chia seeds (salvia Hispanic), a new allergenic food []
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Supplementation of conventional therapy with the novel grain Salba (Salvia hispanica L.) improves major and emerging cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: results of a randomized controlled trial []
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Dietary Fat, Fatty Acids and Risk of Prostate Cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study []
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in the Select trial []
  11. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of Individual Omega-3 Fatty Acids on the Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies []

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