Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on May 24, 2024
7 min read

Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica), also called Salba chia or Mexican chia, are the edible seeds of a flowering plant from the mint family. Native to Mexico and Guatemala, the seeds have a long history. They were a vital crop in ancient Aztec and Mesoamerican cultures. The seeds had medicinal uses and made up an important part of people's diets.

Today, chia grows commercially in many countries including Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Argentina, Australia, and the United States. The seeds are widely recognized as a nutrient-dense addition to healthy diets.

Chia seeds provide many essential nutrients, including:

  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus

Chia seeds are also an incredible source of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that helps to promote a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. A lower ratio is linked to reduced risks of chronic disorders such as heart disease, cancer, and inflammatory conditions.

Nutrients per serving

A 1-ounce serving (28.35 grams) of chia seeds has:

  • Calories: 138
  • Protein: 4.7 grams
  • Fat: 8.7 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 9.8 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams

Chia seeds are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants.

The nutrients in chia seeds can help provide many significant health benefits.

May combat free radicals

Antioxidants found in chia seeds can help to fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals cause oxidative stress and cell damage. Eating foods rich in antioxidants may help to reduce your risk of getting many health issues linked to free radicals, including heart disease, a decline in mental skills, and certain types of cancer.

Some of these antioxidants include:

  • Caffeic acid
  • Chlorogenic acid
  • Kaempferol
  • Quercetin

Better heart health

Chia seeds contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can reduce your risk of several health conditions, including heart disease. The seeds are also high in fiber, which can help to lower high blood pressure and, in turn, lower your odds of getting heart disease.

Helps manage blood sugar levels

Chia seeds are high in fiber. Studies show that fiber may help to reduce insulin resistance and improve blood sugar levels, reducing your risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes . Research has also found that bread containing chia seeds triggers a lower blood sugar response than traditional bread, which helps to prevent high blood sugar levels.

Reduces inflammation

Chronic inflammation can lead to health conditions like heart disease and cancer. Caffeic acid, an antioxidant found in chia seeds, can help to fight inflammation in the body. Eating chia seeds regularly may also help to reduce inflammatory markers, which often show that an inflammatory disease is present.

May help in weight loss

A 1-ounce serving of chia seeds has 35% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber. The soluble fiber in the seeds absorbs water, causing them to expand in your stomach and increase your feeling of fullness when you eat them. By letting you feel fuller for longer, chia seeds can help you maintain a healthy weight.

Better bone health

Chia seeds have several nutrients that are vital for bone health, including magnesium and phosphorus. A single ounce of the seeds also contains 14% of your recommended daily allowance of calcium, which is vital for healthy bone, muscle, and nerve functioning. When compared gram for gram, chia seeds have more calcium than dairy products.

Can improve skin health

In one study, chia seed extract was found to have a high level of vitamin F, which plays a role in improving skin function and hydration. Another study found that chia seeds can help to improve overall skin health by protecting against certain enzymes related to aging. More research is needed.

May help you stay hydrated

When you eat products that are high in fiber, like chia seeds, you have to drink more water in order to avoid issues in your digestive tract. 

You can try drinking chia seed water to add chia seeds to your diet. Adding water to chia seeds helps you stay hydrated while you get the benefits of the nutrients in the seeds.

Although chia seeds offer a variety of health benefits, eating too many may lead to complications:

Digestive issues. Because of their high fiber content, eating too many chia seeds may cause constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and gas. Chia seeds may also cause flare-ups with inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn’s disease.

Choking hazard. Dry chia seeds absorb water, which causes them to swell up and become gooey. Dry chia seeds can get stuck in your throat, which poses a choking hazard. To avoid this risk, soak the seeds 5 to 10 minutes before use.

Interactions with medication. Chia seeds help reduce blood sugar and high blood pressure. If you’re already taking medications for diabetes or hypertension, eating too many chia seeds can cause severe dips in blood sugar levels and blood pressure, which may lead to other health complications.

Allergies. Although rare, chia seed allergies do happen in some people. Symptoms to watch out for include vomiting, diarrhea, and itching of the tongue or lips. Severe allergies can lead to anaphylaxis – a severe allergic reaction that can lead to death if not treated quickly.

Because chia seeds can lead to some issues, it's best to start small. At first, try just a 1-tablespoon serving. Make sure to prepare them in a way that will allow them to expand before you eat them. 

From there, you can gradually add more chia seeds to your diet. But if you feel that they lead to digestive issues, it might be smart to cut back.

Store chia seeds in a cool, dark place. If you grind your seeds, place them in an airtight bag or storage container and store them in your pantry or refrigerator.

There are many ways to eat chia seeds. Some ways to prepare them include:

  • Mixing them with milk or fruit juice to make a chia pudding, which you can top with cacao nibs or fresh fruit
  • Creating an egg replacer to use in baked goods such as cakes or breads
  • Mixing them into muffin batter
  • Making a chia gel to add to homemade soups or smoothies
  • Sprinkling raw seeds on oatmeal or a salad
  • Soaking them to make chia sprouts
  • Mixing them with almond flour and spices to make a breading for fried chicken
  • Adding them to homemade energy bars

Because the outside layer of chia seeds is very thin, they break down easily when you chew them. But if you're sprinkling them dry over a dish, you may absorb the nutrients more easily from ground seeds. You can grind them gently or buy pre-ground seeds.

Another way to add chia seeds to your diet is to drink chia seed water. High-fiber foods can make you dehydrated, because they pull water from your tissues into your gut.  For the fiber in the chia seeds to work well, some experts recommend drinking chia seed water along with a meal.

Tasty chia seeds recipes

Chia seed pudding. Using milk of your choice (regular dairy, almond, soy, etc.), add chia seeds to a mason jar with a lid and shake the mixture well. After 10 minutes, shake the jar again, making sure there aren't any clumps. Refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight. You can add nuts, berries, cinnamon, and a bit of sweetener of your choice to the pudding.

Chia guacamole. In a mixing bowl, add chia seeds and diced tomatoes with juice. In a second bowl, mix jalapeno, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, minced garlic and salt. After letting this mixture sit for about 10 minutes, put in the tomato chia seed mixture. Serve the guacamole with veggies or a whole grain food option of your choice.

Other common recipes include granola mixtures, smoothies, and overnight oats with chia seeds.


Chia seeds may aid your health in many ways, including protecting you from free radicals and improving blood sugar levels. They can be used in a variety of recipes to provide a simple way to meet daily nutrition goals.  If you have certain medical conditions or take specific medications, like anticoagulants or high blood pressure medications, talk to your doctor before adding chia seeds to your diet. 

What is the carb content of 1 teaspoon of chia seeds? One teaspoon of chia seeds has about 2 grams of carbs.

Can you take fish oil and chia seeds together? Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids. As fish oil is too, it's important to talk to your doctor before adding one or both products to your diet.

How much zinc is in chia seeds? An ounce of chia seeds contains 1.3 milligrams of zinc.

What happens when you eat chia every day? The exact amount of chia seeds to eat per day is yet to be determined, as more research is needed. But having too many chia seeds can cause problems in your gut. 

Can chia seeds reduce belly fat? When added to water, chia seeds can enlarge, which helps to keep you fuller for longer periods of time (leading to potential weight loss or less belly fat).