Chia Seeds: "Superfood" or Over-hyped? (2023)

Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) are small oval-shaped seeds with a black, grey, or white color.

These little seeds are also extremely nutritious, packing a surprising amount of nutritional value into small servings.

This article looks at some of the potential benefits of chia seeds, alongside their full nutrition facts.

Chia Seeds: "Superfood" or Over-hyped? (1)

1) Chia Seeds are Packed With Fiber

Chia seeds are among the most fiber-rich foods. In this regard, just a one-ounce (28-gram) serving offers 9.75 grams of fiber (1).

According to the recommended daily value for fiber, which stands at 28 grams, one ounce of chia seeds provides 35% of the daily value (1, 2).

Interestingly, almost all the carbohydrate content of chia seeds is fiber, and the seeds are approximately 40% fiber by weight.

For anyone trying to increase their diet’s fiber content, chia seeds offer a simple way to increase intake substantially.

In systematic reviews and meta-analyses of large human trials, fiber is consistently associated with health benefits. On this note, a recent umbrella review of existing systematic reviews demonstrated that fiber is strongly associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality and lower incidence of several cancers (3).

Numerous studies have shown that fiber can benefit gut health, reduce postprandial blood sugar levels, and lower LDL cholesterol levels (4, 5, 6, 7).

Key Point: Chia seeds are one of the best dietary sources of fiber.

2) Chia Seeds May Have Benefits For Satiety and Reducing Appetite

Satiety refers to the feeling of being satisfied and full during the period after a meal.

Foods that improve feelings of satiety can reduce subsequent food intake. As such, they may contribute to weight control (8).

On the positive side, it is thought that chia seeds are a beneficial food choice for their contribution to satiety.

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Several studies using human participants have examined this issue:

  • A randomized trial split 24 participants into groups receiving either yogurt, yogurt with seven grams of chia seed, or yogurt with 14 grams of chia seed. The results demonstrated that as chia seed was increased, the participants had higher scores for satiety and lower hunger scores. Additionally, energy intake was much lower at a subsequent ‘ab libitum’ (all you can eat) lunch among individuals consuming chia seed (9).
  • In another randomized controlled trial, participants were given either 50 grams of glucose alone or alongside 25 grams of chia or 31.5 grams of flaxseed. The study results showed that both chia and flax led to lower blood glucose responses and reduced hunger. However, chia had a more significant impact on both of these measures than flax (10).
  • A further small study demonstrated that adding chia seeds to bread reduced subsequent blood glucose responses. Furthermore, appetite ratings were significantly decreased over the 2-hour period after eating the bread with chia (11).

These studies show that adding a small amount of chia may lower appetite and reduce food intake over the day.

Key Point: In human trials, chia seed intake lowers appetite and reduces subsequent energy intake.

3) May Potentially Help Support Weight Loss

Perhaps due to their effect on satiety levels, chia seeds may help support weight loss efforts. However, the available evidence to support this is mixed.

For example, one randomized study featuring 76 participants found that 25 grams of chia seed twice daily for two weeks had no impact on weight loss compared to placebo (12).

However, in another randomized controlled trial, participants were given 35 grams of milled chia flour or placebo each day for 12 weeks. The study results showed that the participants in the chia group experienced small but significant reductions in overall weight and waist circumference (13).

In a randomized controlled trial featuring overweight patients with type 2 diabetes, chia seed supplementation was investigated for its effect on body weight. The study split 77 participants into two groups: one group consumed 30 grams of chia each day, while the other group used an oat bran-based control.

Interestingly, this study demonstrated that the participants in the chia group lost more weight. Over six months, the chia seed group had lost approximately 1.5 kilograms more than the control group (14).

Despite some promising results, the strength of evidence to support weight-loss results is too weak to make strong claims.

Key Point: Some studies show that chia seeds may support weight loss. However, at present, the evidence for this is mixed and relatively weak.

4) May Lower Postprandial Blood Glucose Levels

Several recent studies have shown that adding chia seeds to a carbohydrate-rich meal reduces postprandial (post-meal) blood sugar levels (10, 11, 15).

This effect was clearly displayed in a randomized controlled, dose-response trial. In this trial, chia seed consumed alongside bread attenuated blood sugar levels in a dose-dependent manner (15).

It is thought that the high fiber content of chia seeds is responsible for the reductive effect on postprandial glucose.

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Fiber slows down the digestion of food, which increases the time over which carbohydrates are absorbed. As a result, the blood sugar response to carbohydrate-containing foods falls as the fiber content of that meal increases (16, 17).

Key Point: Greater chia seed intake appears to lower postprandial blood glucose rises after eating carbohydrates.

5)Good Source of Omega-3

Chia seeds contain 5.06 grams of omega-3 per ounce (28-gram) serving (1).

However, it is worth noting that this omega-3 comes in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, known as ALA for short.

ALA is a form of omega-3 found in plants, but the human body must convert it to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) before being able to use it. EPA and DHA are the biologically active forms of omega-3 within the body (18, 19).

Unfortunately, the human body can only convert ALA to EPA and DHA at very low levels, with most estimates placing the true conversation rate anywhere between 1% and 15% (18, 20).

As a result, it is still important to consume EPA/DHA from seafood or supplements.

However, even if the true ALA to EPA/DHA conversion rate was under 10%, chia seeds may still benefit omega-3 levels since they contain more than five grams of ALA omega-3 per ounce serving.

Key Point: Chia seeds are a good source of ALA omega-3. This form of omega-3 needs converting to EPA or DHA for the body to use it, though, and the conversion rate tends to be low.

Note: There Is a Lack of Evidence To Support Strong Health Claims About Chia Seeds

Chia seeds indeed contain a good combination of fiber, healthy fats, and essential nutrients. Due to this, they can likely have beneficial effects as part of a healthy dietary pattern.

However, chia seeds have only been a common part of human diets over the past decade. For this reason, there is still very little evidence from human trials on their effects on human health.

As referenced in this article, a small number of studies show potential benefits from chia seeds, particularly regarding satiety and blood sugar control.

However, a recent systematic review and meta-analysis looked at the clinical evidence for supplementing diets with chia seeds (21).

(Video) Chia seeds bad?

This review points out that the existing evidence supports further research into the dose-response effects of chia seeds. However, the review also correctly asserts that the current evidence does not support strong health claims about chia’s effects.

In other words: the seeds may have benefits, but it is best to treat claims that sound too good to be true with a pinch of salt.

Key Point: Chia seeds are nutritious, but be wary about claims that over-hype their benefits.

Nutrition Facts

Based on data sourced from the USDA’s FoodData Central database, here are the full nutritional values for chia seeds (1).

Daily values have been calculated using the most recently published recommended daily values (2).

Chia Seed Nutrition Facts Per Ounce (28g) Serving
NameAmount% Daily Value
Calories138 kcal6.9%
Carbohydrate11.9 g4.0%
Fiber9.75 g34.8%
Sugars0 g
Fat8.72 g11.2%
Saturated0.94 g4.7%
Monounsaturated0.65 g
Polyunsaturated6.71 g
Omega-35.06 g
Omega-61.65 g
Protein4.69 g9.4%

Vitamins and Minerals

Here is the vitamin and mineral content per ounce (28-gram) serving of chia seeds.

The daily values have been calculated using USDA nutritional data and the most recently published daily values (1, 2).


  • Niacin (B3): 16% DV
  • Thiamin (B1): 15% DV
  • Riboflavin (B2): 4% DV
  • Folate: 3% DV
  • Vitamin C: 1% DV
  • Vitamin E: 1% DV

Chia seeds are a good source of B vitamins, especially niacin and thiamin.


  • Manganese: 33% DV
  • Copper: 29% DV
  • Selenium: 28% DV
  • Magnesium: 23% DV
  • Phosphorus: 20% DV
  • Calcium: 14% DV
  • Iron: 12% DV
  • Zinc: 12% DV
  • Potassium: 2% DV
  • Sodium: <1% DV

As shown above, chia seeds contain a broad range of essential minerals. Among these minerals, they are particularly rich in manganese, copper, selenium, and magnesium.

Note: if looking for seeds that offer a rich source of minerals, hemp seeds are extremely mineral-dense.


Chia seeds are also a rich source of polyphenols, with a test showing that the dry seeds contain 8.8% phenolic compounds by weight (22).

Among the polyphenols chia seeds provide, they are particularly high in (23, 24):

  • Caffeic acid
  • Chlorogenic acid
  • Daidzein
  • Kaempferol
  • Myricetin
  • Rosmarinic acid
  • Quercetin

Key Point: Chia seeds provide a mix of carbohydrate, fats, and protein. They also supply a wide range of vitamins and minerals.

(Video) Chia Seeds History & Nutrition - Superfoods

How To Eat Chia Seeds

When first trying chia seeds, it can be hard to know what to do with them.

There are (rare) case studies where consuming the seeds dry has led to an obstruction in the esophagus (22).

While apparently rare, such events may be from dry chia seeds expanding in size as they absorb liquid in the throat. According to research, the seeds can swell up to 12-15 times in size as they absorb water (23, 24).

Similar to poppy seeds, chia seeds are most often consumed as an ingredient in food. Most often, they are mixed into yogurts, drinks, and other liquids.

Although they don’t have a strong flavor, chia seeds take on the flavors from foods they’re eaten alongside. They have a crunchy texture and change to a gel-like consistency when soaked due to the seeds’ high soluble fiber content.

Generally, the seeds develop a gel-like consistency when added to liquids over a period of 20 to 30 minutes.

Here is a range of ways in which we can eat the seeds:

  • Mix them into juice or a smoothie
  • Add to water
  • Mix them into porridge
  • Stir the seeds into a yogurt
  • Grind/blend the seeds into powder and add to juices, smoothies, and protein shakes
  • Use them in baking and for making homemade bread
  • Make a “chia” pudding: add chia seeds to chocolate milk and leave overnight. In the morning, the pudding will have developed a thick jelly-like consistency. This can also be done with juice, other flavored milk, and most liquid-based drinks/products.

Key Point: We can eat chia seeds in a wide variety of ways, most of which involve soaking the seeds in liquid.

Final Thoughts

Just a small serving of chia seeds offers a broad range of nutrients for minimal calories, including protein, fiber, fat, and essential micronutrients. Thus, they likely provide a beneficial contribution to the average diet.

There is also some promising research on the seeds’ potential health benefits, but more research is necessary to develop a clearer picture.

However, it is better to ignore claims of chia seeds being a “superfood” – these are driven more by marketing than anything else.

Related Articles

12 Types of Edible Seeds and Their Benefits


Poppy Seeds: Nutrition Facts, Benefits, and Downsides

The Benefits of Hemp Seeds (and Full Nutrition Facts)

Flaxseed: Nutrition Facts, Benefits, and Downsides


Are chia seeds worth the hype? ›

They contain antioxidants too, which can reduce free radicals in the body that contribute to aging and cancer. To summarize, chia seeds are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, and plant-based protein, as well as antioxidants, calcium and other important micronutrients.

Is chia overrated? ›

While chia seeds are indeed “high in soluble fiber," they are not as valuable a source of omega 3 as, say, fatty fish, she says. A better source of Omega 3s, she adds, is “fatty fish" like salmon. Overall, while adding chia seeds to your diet doesn't hurt, they're not going to do the job on their own.

What is the hype about chia seeds? ›

They're high in fatty acids.

Chia seeds contain remarkably high levels of an omega-3 essential fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid, or A.L.A. You can only get these acids from your diet, Dr. Ring said, and eating foods that are rich in A.L.A.s can help prevent heart disease.

Is chia a fad? ›

You might be most familiar with chia seeds from their early incarnation as novelty “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia” Pets in the 1970s and 80s, where sprouted chia seeds became the green “fur” on clay animals. Although the Chia Pet fad faded away, chia seeds have found the limelight again as a new superfood.

Are there any negatives to chia seeds? ›

Some people may experience side effects from eating too many chia seeds. These side effects may include digestive issues, allergic reactions, or weight gain. However, for most individuals, chia seeds are a suitable and nutritious addition to a balanced diet.

Is chia seed high in estrogen? ›

~ Flaxseeds are considered to be phytoestrogens*, while chia seeds do not have any estrogen-like properties.

Do chia seeds increase estrogen in females? ›

Chia seeds do not have any estrogen like properties, so it is not likely to affect estrogen levels.

What happens if you drink chia seeds everyday? ›

Because of the fiber content of chia seeds and their ability to absorb water, drinking chia seed water may help promote feelings of fullness, reduce appetite, and prevent overeating, which could support weight loss.

Are chia seeds anti inflammatory? ›

Conclusions Results showed that chia seeds oil and mucilage exhibited anti-inflammatory effects against adjuvant-induced arthritis in obese and non-obese rats.

How much chia seeds per day is healthy? ›

If you can begin adding chia seeds to your diet, it's best to adhere to the recommended serving size. The serving size for adults is 15grams (2 tablespoons) daily. For children and teens ages 5 to 18 years the recommended amount is 1.4 to 4.3 grams daily.

Can chia seeds reduce belly fat? ›

Studies have shown that chia seeds consumption reduces visceral adipose tissues, also known as belly fat.

Why is everyone eating chia seeds? ›

Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, which can improve heart health, reduce cholesterol levels and promote intestinal health. Fiber takes longer to digest and makes you feel satisfied longer, which is how it can help with weight loss and decrease your risk of developing diabetes or heart disease.

Why is chia so popular? ›

It contains all the essential amino acids that are usually found in meat. Chia seeds contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which may improve risk factors for heart disease. They're also a good source of iron, calcium and antioxidants, which are essential for maintaining a healthy and balanced diet.

Is 2 tablespoons of chia seeds too much? ›

Nutrition in chia seeds

There is no RDA for chia seeds. Still, they can be safely eaten in amounts of 50 grams daily, which is about five tablespoons.

Does chia seeds detox your body? ›

And because they create a gelatinous effect when added to water or digested they cleanse your insides by collecting toxins on their way out! This is why Chia Seeds are an amazing detox and weight loss food.

Can chia seeds get caught in your colon? ›

Whole chia seeds can sometimes get stuck in the intestinal lining, causing discomfort and bloating, although in theory they are cleansing the system and getting into every nook & cranny this also can be uncomfortable whilst it occurs.

Can chia seeds mess with your hormones? ›

Chia seeds relieve the pain during periods. They also regulate the mood swings happening during that time. Chia seeds also improve insulin resistance, control other metabolic disorders, and regulate hormones in the follicular phase. Fertilisation occurs in the luteal phase.

Do chia seeds raise cortisol? ›

Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds or ground flax meal all include Omega-3 fatty acids and help to support blood sugar control, which can help reduce cortisol levels.

Is chia seeds good for females? ›


The omega-3 fatty acid component found in chia seeds has been proven to limit the growth of cancer cells. Studies have also shown that eating the seeds can kill the cancer cells without harming normal healthy cells.

What seeds balance female hormones? ›

Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds are also believed to support a healthy period. The theory is that because these are good sources of essential minerals like magnesium and zinc, they may help balance levels of estrogen and progesterone.

What foods balance female hormones? ›

Broccoli, broccoli sprouts, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, and bok choy are all known as cruciferous vegetables. These veggies help your liver metabolize estrogen. The plant sterols in avocados help regulate estrogen and progesterone, which can help regulate ovulation.

Which seed is high in estrogen? ›

Sesame seeds are a potent source of phytoestrogens. Regularly eating sesame seeds has been shown to increase estrogen activity in postmenopausal women.

What is the best time to eat chia seeds? ›

Consuming chia seeds with water in the morning helps in giving your digestive system a boost and improves bowel movement. Healthy digestion is a prerequisite to weight loss. The best time to eat chia seeds is when you wake up. Consumption of chia seeds aids in a feeling of fullness and thus a reduced calorie intake.

Can too much chia seeds make you gain weight? ›

But chia seeds are not a magic bullet for weight loss. They do not burn extra calories or increase metabolism in any way. Additionally, if you consume too many of them, you might gain weight instead.

How many times a week should I eat chia seeds? ›

A common dosage recommendation is 0.7 ounces (20 grams or about 1.5 tablespoons) of chia seeds twice per day.

Does Chia seed increase collagen? ›

The antioxidants present in chia seeds help in neutralising the free radicals that damage the skin cells. Aside from this, antioxidants boost the production of collagen in your body. Collagen helps in maintaining the elasticity of your skin and also prevents it from sagging.

What is better chia or flax seeds? ›

Chia seeds have slightly fewer calories and more fiber. They also have 2.5 times more of the bone-strengthening mineral calcium, as well as slightly more iron and phosphorus. Both seeds are very nutritious. If you're looking for more omega-3s, pick flax seeds.

What is the most powerful anti-inflammatory? ›

What is the strongest anti-inflammatory medication? Research shows diclofenac is the strongest and most effective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine available.

Can I have 2 tablespoons of chia seeds a day? ›

There are no hard-and-fast guidelines on how many chia seeds you should eat daily. But some doctors and institutions offer reasonable recommendations, such as Columbia University, which suggests eating 20 g (or a bit under 2 tbsp) of chia twice per day.

Do you need to soak chia seeds before eating? ›

It is important to soak your chia seeds and activate the mucilage because it creates positive changes in the nutritional and physical properties of the chia seeds that make them even more beneficial for your health. Here are some important changes that happen to chia seeds soaked in water.

How long should I soak chia seeds? ›

Soak the seeds in almond milk or water (1/4 cup seeds to 1 cup liquid) until they take on a chewy texture reminiscent of tapioca pudding, about 20 minutes. Soaked chia seeds can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, so you can make a big batch at the start of the week.

How quickly do chia seeds work? ›

Why aren't my chia seeds gelling? Time: Gelling chia seeds takes time! Recipes like chia pudding are best when chia sits in liquid for a few hours, or even overnight. If you want your chia seeds to have that gel-like consistency, they need to sit for a minimum of 20 minutes to absorb the liquid.

Do chia seeds slow down your metabolism? ›

Consuming chia seeds can help speed up your metabolism as it is high in vitamin B. Other than that, their high content of omega-6 helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Chia seeds are also capable of burning belly fat since they reduce visceral adipose tissue, which is the component of obesity.

Which seed burns belly fat? ›

01/7Chia seeds is one of the best superfoods to lose weight

From boosting digestive health, metabolic rate, high iron, Omega-3 content and good fats, chia seeds make for an excellent addition to your diet. Most of all, the tiny white and black seeds are great for you to lose weight and reduce belly fat.

Why do chia seeds make you lose weight? ›

One of the best benefits of chia seeds is that it has a lot of fibre content in it, which is essential for body functioning and regulating fat. It is said that two tablespoons of chia seeds contain at least 10 grams of fibre. For the same reason, it is linked to weight loss.

Are chia seeds inflammatory? ›

These tiny seeds are small but mighty. With a good ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, and a high fiber and protein content, chia seeds can help reverse inflammation, regulate cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, according to Axe.

Is 1 tablespoon of chia seeds enough per day? ›

A common dosage recommendation is 0.7 ounces (20 grams or about 1.5 tablespoons) of chia seeds twice per day. Remember to drink plenty of water to prevent any digestive side effects. Chia seeds are easy to prepare and often used as an egg substitute and added to oatmeal or smoothies.


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