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glass pot of full of chia seed on top of a wooden coaster with a wooden spoon lodged in it

Can You Eat Too Many Chia Seeds?

Is there such thing as eating too many chia seeds?

ceramic square pot full with chia seeds on a white wooden table

So you’ve discovered chia seeds and have been eating them left, right and center when suddenly, you ask yourself - ‘can I eat too many chia seeds?’. Unfortunately, overeating, even of a good thing, can be harmful to you as with most foods. How many chia seeds are too many chia seeds, and what will happen if you exceed your limits? 

How Many Chia Seeds Should You Eat?

Chia seeds are tiny, and for that reason, it’s very easy to eat a lot of them without realizing it. In addition to their small stature, chia seeds also have the ability to absorb up to 10x their weight in water which can be problematic if you’re eating them dry. To avoid unpleasant digestive side-effects, it’s recommended that adults start by eating just two tablespoons (15g) of chia seeds per day, slowly working their way up to a larger serving of up to 28g (1oz). 

What Happens If You Eat Too Many Chia Seeds?

Like most fiber-rich foods, eating too many chia seeds can lead to digestive discomfort. Although a 28g serving of chia seeds may seem harmless, this tiny amount provides a whopping 42% of a person’s recommended daily fiber, and so it would be easy to exceed your fiber limit. The most common side effects of eating too many chia seeds are symptoms associated with consuming too much fiber, including bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. 

Other Side Effects Of Eating Too Many Chia Seeds

Although stomach ache and gas are the most common side effects of eating too many chia seeds, there are a few other side-effects to be aware of. 

  • Eating Chia Seeds Dry Can Cause Choking
    Chia seeds can absorb up to 10X their weight in water, and so it is not recommended to eat a large quantity of them dry. Eating a tablespoon or more of chia seeds dry from a spoon can cause them to swell in your esophagus, which may cause a blockage. The easiest way to prevent this is by swelling your chia seeds first or by distributing them throughout other foods such as oatmeal so that you do not eat them all in one go.

  • Chia Seeds Can Cause Interactions With Some Medications
  • One of the health benefits of chia seeds is their ability to lower blood sugar levels which can be beneficial for diabetics; however, overconsumption of chia seeds can interfere with blood sugar medications. As well as reducing blood sugar levels, chia seeds are also effective at reducing blood pressure levels too, which can enhance the efficiency of blood pressure medications. 

  • Some People Can Be Allergic To Chia Seeds
  • Although rare, it is possible to be allergic to chia seeds. Some of the main symptoms of a food allergy are itchy lips and skin and swelling of the mouth or throat. If you are concerned that you may have an allergy to chia seeds, stop eating them immediately. 

  • ALA Intake Could Be Associated With Prostate Cancer
  • Finally, some research suggests that eating a very high diet in ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) could increase a person’s risk of prostate cancer. At present, the evidence for this is inconclusive, and other studies have found an increased ALA intake to be protective against cancer. Consuming a standard serving of chia seeds does not increase ALA to concerning levels. 

    The Bottom Line For Chia Seeds

    Chia seeds are an extremely beneficial superfood when eaten in moderation. If consumed excessively, then like any fiber-rich food, they can cause digestive upset. For people taking blood sugar or blood pressure medication, then it is important to consume only the recommended daily serving; otherwise, the health benefits of chia seeds could start to interact with their medication. Although extremely uncommon, chia seed allergies have been recorded, and so people eating chia seeds for the first time should consume a small amount and stay vigilant for allergy symptoms. 

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