Should You Eat Chia Seeds?

Shortly after sharing my recent post about why flax seeds actually aren’t all that healthy and you probably shouldn’t go out of your way to eat them, I was asked by several readers if chia seeds are any better.

Good question.

Oh, funny story though, first. I may be a little biased against chia seeds because way back when my mother first started trying to convert me to the whole “real food” thing, she would eat chia seeds every day at the advice of her nutritionist, but in the most disgusting way possible. She’d pour a bunch of them into a glass of perfectly good orange juice, let the seeds coagulate into these gooey globs of crunchy, goobery nastiness, and sip/chew the sloppy mess down every morning. It looked like some bad oranges had a rough night out and pooped into a cup the next day. I was offered a glass of the orange-a-rhea only once before I made it clear that I couldn’t stomach it.

Mama Butter, this post is for you!

Why do people eat chia seeds?

Why would you want to eat chia seeds to begin with? A few reasons from the chia lovers.

Chia is a traditional food

It’s true that before they became trendy, chia seeds were eaten in traditional cultures, such as the Aztec and the Mayan, for thousands of years. And that’s always a good sign.

But I wouldn’t say that it’s really a great indication that we should all be gorging on the stuff. Chia seeds are found in the geological areas those cultures lived in. It’s edible. But, it wasn’t a huge staple of their diet, as far as I can tell. It definitely doesn’t need to be a big staple in ours. But the fact that they are a food which has been eaten for a very long time does at least give chia seeds some credibility, in my mind.

Omega-3

The deal with the omega-3 content of chia seeds is the same one we saw with flax — it’s ALA, which is a form of omega-3 humans are terrible at converting into the usable forms of omega-3, EPA and DHA. So the omega-3 you get from chia seeds is almost completely wasted in your body. Well, I actually wouldn’t say it’s wasted so much as it’s potentially causing harm, since any omega-3 fatty acid is an easily oxidized PUFA, which will go flying around in there like a bat out of hell causing your cells all sorts of free radical damage and messing up your metabolism. Fun!

If you’re trying to supplement your diet with omega-3, chia seeds are a pretty poor choice. As I mentioned in the flax post, if you want omega-3s (and a whole lot of other beneficial nutrients), my vote is for fermented cod liver oil. You can find that here.

Fiber

Fiber is so controversial these days. A lot of voices in the alternative health community are saying we’re getting way too much of it which could be very dangerous. Industry-supported mainstream nutrition advice is, unsurprisingly, still pushing Metamucil and Fiber One bars at us, claiming benefits of heart health, weight loss, and colon “cleansing.”

I think it’s important to understand that not all fiber is the same. First, there’s insoluble fiber. This is fiber that does not dissolve in water, and so it passes through your digestive tract relatively intact. It’s found in natural foods like vegetables, grains, and seeds. A normal amount of insoluble fiber that makes its way into your diet naturally in the foods you eat is generally considered to be beneficial.

But when too much insoluble fiber is added to the diet, or processed insoluble fiber is added to “fortify” the foods you eat, it can cause more harm than good. Excess insoluble fiber can actually bind onto minerals available in your body as it makes its way through your digestive system, taking the nutrients along with it to be expelled as waste. Not good.

Then there’s soluble fiber. Unlike insoluble fiber, it is digestible. When soluble fiber ferments in your gut, it does some pretty good things for you. First, it helps to “feed” the beneficial microbes, or probiotic bacteria, in your digestive system. This keeps the good bugs doing their thing and helps maintain a healthy gut. Soluble fiber is also converted into a very beneficial substance known as butyric acid, a super-good-for-you short-chain saturated fatty acid.

So where do chia seeds stand with the whole fiber thing? The fiber in chia seeds is 3/4 insoluble and only 1/4 soluble. There are much better and much tastier sources of soluble fiber out there, like legumes, certain fruits (bananas, berries, apples) and vegetables (sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, onions), and certain grains like oats and barley.

Oh and for more butyric acid, there’s always, you know… butter.

Digestive issues

One of the reasons people think the fiber in chia seeds is so beneficial is to keep things, uh, flowing, in the bowel department. But honestly, if you’re needing to supplement something like that just to be able to poop regularly, you’ve got a bigger issue that isn’t being addressed. Usually digestive problems like that are related to poor metabolism. Read 180 Degree Digestion for more on that.

Antioxidants

Chia cheerleaders tend to make all kinds of claims that their beloved seed has “3 times the antioxidants of blueberries!” in the form of polyphenols. Well, guess what has whole heck of a lot more of those polyphenol antioxidants, without all the downsides of chia?

Coconut oil!

Which, as we know, is good for lots of other things, too. Like repairing the damage from PUFAs stuck in your cells, getting your body temperature burning hot, and raising your metabolism.

Other nutrients

Chia seeds are relatively high in calcium, potassium, iron, and protein, for being seeds. But again, too much insoluble fiber (and phytic acid — just like with flax, chia is loaded with it), and those minerals are going to be stripped right out of you. And I think we all know there are better sources of protein out there. (Grass-fed meat, eggs, or dairy, anyone?)

Hydration

Chia seeds absorb ten times their weight in water which could help maintain proper hydration levels during athletic activity. It’s said that those Aztecs used chia seeds for their warriors during combat, or for traveling long distances, because they could stay hydrated longer without water. Some modern athletes are copying this idea and using chia seeds to aid them in endurance.

But, um… I’m pretty sure athletes today aren’t stuck without access to water for long periods of time like ancient warriors traveling through mesoamerica might have been. It’s called a water bottle, people.

Egg substitutions

Some people with egg allergies or those who are v*gans have discovered that the gooey gel chia seeds make when they’re soaked in water (or, buhhh….orange juice) acts kind of like eggs. So, chia seed solutions are sometimes used as a substitute for eggs in baking recipes.

Now, if you ask me, that ain’t no substitute for one of nature’s most perfect foods. The two are hardly comparable. But if you really can’t eat eggs, well, I guess this could be a workable alternative, texture-wise (definitely not nutrition-wise), for baking purposes.

They’re involved in multi-level marketing schemes

Have you heard of the miraculous superfood that you absolutely need to buy a lifetime supply of to give yourself a mystical LifeMax force that will protect you from any and all forms of illness for the rest of your 200 year lifespan and give you and your children magic powers?!

No?!?

Then, you seriously need to find yourself a Mila LifeMax Miracle Seed salesperson!

Yes, for the low, low price of just $55 for a one-pound pouch, you, too can experience the life-changing effects of pouring your hard-earned money into a MLM scam, and gross out your family by pouring weird little tasteless seeds all over everything they eat!

“If it sounds too good to be true…”

“Mila LifeMax Miracle Seeds” = chia seeds, which shouldn’t cost anywhere near that price, and — sorry — aren’t any more “miraculous” than… oh, say, a ShamWow.

The verdict

While chia seeds certainly aren’t a magical life-altering miracle food, they probably are okay to consume in moderate amounts and do have some redeeming nutritional value.

If you’re still gonna stick with chia though, go easy on it. Studies have shown that high levels of chia consumption can lead to some pretty significant inflammatory and allergenic effects.

Personally, I won’t be bothering with them anytime soon.

But I’d gladly be the proud owner of one of these bad boys!

 

“Ch-ch-ch-chia!”

 

 

[disclosure: cmp.ly/4; cmp.ly/5]

[photo credit: modified from this photo by little blue hen on Flickr]

 

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog, including Amazon.com links. I only recommend products I genuinely love, and that I believe would be of value to my readers. Thank you for your support!

MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: Your health is between you and your health care practitioner. Nothing in this blog is intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations is at the choice and risk of the reader.

119 Responses to Should You Eat Chia Seeds?
  1. Amy Kidwell says:

    Great timing, I was just thinking I needed to order some but I might reconsider. One thing I will keep a little chia around for is that eating some (1 tsp. or less) of the dry chia seeds helps get rid of a bad tummy ache.

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Hey if that works for you, go for it! I’ve heard the opposite from people, that it makes them bloated and can aggravate digestive issues. But everyone’s different! Thanks, Amy.

    • Bouncedancer says:

      Amy, if you experience tummy aches often, it’s likely a food sensitivity, or maybe even low stomach acid (or both). Another seed that’s good to suck/chomp on when having an uncomfortable stomach is fennel seeds (maybe 1/2 tsp).

  2. I don’t know… the ShamWow is pretty miraculous. ;)

    Another great post. So informative AND entertaining. That’s how I like it. Thanks, Emily.

  3. helen says:

    what a terribly written article.

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Aw, that’s all? No attacks on my lack of credentials, my sub-par research, or my character? Damn, what a boring troll.

    • Beccolina says:

      He says with terrible capitalization.

      • Brian says:

        I have to agree with helen and Beccolina. The whole time I was reading this article it I kept wanting to get into what was being said, but was totally not impressed with how you said it or how you support what is being said. I get that you think it is gross to eat chia gel, but you really come across as childish and a bit spiteful due to an impression made when you were a child. If you weren’t a child in the OJ incident you sure sound that way to me. So, enjoy your butter, I will to. But I think I will educate myself more than it sounds like you have. Opinions about how you feel about chia, more entertaining than educational. On to something less emotional and more substantive.

        • ButterBeliever says:

          There are links to sources with further information about this peppered throughout the entire post. I suggest you actually read it.

          This isn’t a medical journal. It’s a blog. It’s intended to be entertaining. But by all means, go stuff yourself with nutritionally worthless chia seeds.

        • Maxie says:

          Gee Brian, if you’re that easily distracted …..
          You sound like a pompous jerk !

        • Dave says:

          Here’s a suggestion. If you’re butthurt that easily… stay off the internet and go to a library. *rolling eyes*

        • Connie says:

          Brian, I completely agree with what you said, but I think we are getting what we sign up for by reading a blog for opinions. Personally, I’d rather have an objective opinion about products so that I can weigh the pros and cons and then decide whether a product is right for my lifestyle.

          From my research, chia seeds come with plenty of the good stuff like antioxidants (more than blueberries!), calcium, omega-3, and fiber to make it worth including in my daily life. Of course, no one should be eating ten bags of chia seeds everyday, just the same way as no one should be eating ten bags of celery everyday, as the insoluble fiber will be too much for your body. But this article makes it seem as if eating chia seeds will harm you more than help you, which is entirely untrue if you’re eating them responsibly as a supplement to your daily food intake.

    • jowa78@gmail.com says:

      im interested to hear why its poorly written?

  4. Judy says:

    Thank you for your sage advise. My budget thanks you too! I’ve been buying those expensive seeds and ruining my delicious grass-fed, whole fat yogurt. I’ll ditch the Chia seeds saving myself money as well as time – no more standing around stirring those things into my breakfast every morning ;-)

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Oh nooo… don’t ruin your good yogurt!! The things we do in the name of health, huh? ;) Well, I’m glad to have influenced your decision to ditch the chia. Gross, expensive, who needs it?! As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not real big on force-feeding “health foods” that you don’t like or want to eat. Enjoy your chia-less breakfasts, and thanks for the encouragement. :)

      • Stephanie says:

        I almost convinced my dad to buy these… I’d heard so much good things about them. And actually, in Kombucha I kind of like the taste. I have a lot of vegetarian/vegan friends though. It’s hard to know what’s true in healthy anymore. :(

        • Stephanie says:

          *truly healthy anymore.

        • Bethani says:

          I know!! Kinda bummed. I also like the kombucha with chia in it. My husband uses them in his coffee along with coconut oil when he’s on night shift and has noticed that he doesn’t get as tired during the night. Don’t know what to think now…..

      • jowa78@gmail.com says:

        yes eliminating chia will save money but adding cod liver oil in exchange doesn’t, what should we do?

        • ButterBeliever says:

          You don’t have to take any supplements! If you feel the need to add in more omega-3 to your diet, I suggest eating more fish and seafood.

          • Ewi says:

            The only problem with eating seafood is the fact that you need omega-3 fatty acids everyday. Unfortunately, fish today has been saturated in mercury levels and as well polluted. Of course you could eat fish 2-3 times a day and eat walnuts the other. I will keep eating chia seeds only for the purpose of other health benefits.

  5. Kari says:

    I read a comment on Danny Roddy’s blog (a Peat follower) about fiber possibly helping detox excess estrogen. So, I thought I would give it a try. Rather than get a fiber supplement, I thought I would use some chia seeds, soaked in water (like that nasty orange drink you mention, only possibly worse due to lack of sugar). It was nasty. And I only did it for two days-in the evening before bed each time. Let me tell you that I had the CRAZIEST dreams both nights. Like scary crazy. Not my best idea.

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Danny is awesome!

      I would do the Peat carrot salad thing for helping to get rid of excess estrogen, instead of nasty chia seeds that apparently give you crazy nightmares! That’s so weird! I haven’t really bothered trying to make the salad, but I have been making an effort to eat a raw carrot every day, and trying to remember to get my husband to do it too. His hypothyroidism is worse than mine was. Maybe give the carrot thing a shot!

  6. Jill says:

    Ugh. Lately I’ve been feeling more and more hopeless about what to eat.
    I. Simply. Just. Don’t . Know . anymore.
    And I’m so tired of being the way that I am.
    That 180 degree book looks great…unfortunately I can’t get any of these things without a credit card, etc…is there anything in a library or on the internet that shows what the heck to eat ? Sorry, I’m feeling so discouraged lately. I just dont know anymore.
    I feel like eeyore on the Winnie the Pooh series.
    Uh, yeah…

    Anyway, nice post.

    • ButterBeliever says:

      I completely, totally understand the frustration.

      Alright. Let me give it to you in a nutshell. Here’s what I think, from most important to least:

      1. Do not worship any sort of diet. Including “real food.”
      2. Do not ever, ever, ever restrict what you eat, or forbid yourself from eating any specific thing.
      3. Do not be afraid of carbs. Or saturated fat. Both are essential to health. (Protein’s cool, too.)
      4. Metabolism matters. Eat things that support it (starch, sugars, salt, saturated fat), and avoid the things that squash it (PUFAs are a biggie).
      5. Eat food. Lots of it. Especially if you have weight problems. And RELAX! :)

      Sound good?

      • Karen says:

        I have a question. I’ve been following Matt Stone for a few months. I get that we should not worry about what we eat. But even in your reply, in #2 you say “don’t forbid yourself to eat anything” and in #4 you said “avoid the things that squash metabolism like PUFAs”.

        this is where I get stressed out. So do I eat the Lays Potato Chips because I want them, or avoid them because they are cooked in PUFAs? I have very limited funds for groceries so I don’t have the option to fill my house with WAPF foods and THEN eat as much as I want (which I assume would be the ideal scenario). I have to work with what’s at the regular ole grocery store.

        • ButterBeliever says:

          Great question, Karen.

          Big difference between forbidding yourself and avoiding something.

          “this is where I get stressed out” = exactly why that is.

          I also like Lays chips. And I’d gladly eat a handful or three with a good clam dip while watching the game at a friend’s house. But I don’t usually buy them, because of the PUFA content. And because I haven’t labeled them with a big, fat “DO NOT TOUCH!” sticker in my head, they lose some of their appeal to me. I can have them if I want to. But because I understand the dangers of PUFAs, I don’t want them most of the time.

          This is a great example, actually, because the WAPF (and Matt Stone)-friendly option would be to eat actual potatoes. Those things are dirt cheap! Slice one up (like all those pictures on Pinterest lately), brush with some melted butter and salt, pop it in the oven, then put some sour cream on top and, whoa. Way better than chips fried in rancid veggie oil.

          Avoiding PUFAs can be tough at first, but you really just have to get a little creative. And I think that’s more fun, anyway!

          • KristenK says:

            I totally agree with your point on the chips (as an example). I don’t buy a lot of different junk foods and avoid bringing them into my house or to parties/dinners, etc. but if I’m somewhere and it’s out as a snack, only if I feel like it, I will have a little bit. A lot of the times I can skip right over it too with out any issues. It’s nice to get to that point of control with out stress…but on the same token…I don’t stress out if I do have some. I think that’s a state that comes naturally over time following whatever lifestyle it is you choose.

            • ButterBeliever says:

              Totally. Getting rid of the stress is so key!

              • Bethani says:

                Thank you Jill and Karen for the questions, totally feeling the same way, especially now that I read this…..seems like I screw up no matter what I do. So what’s the point?

      • mamajo says:

        i share this feeling of frustration, everyone says different things and all of you seem to know what you are talking about and all of you sound like there is lots of research backing up what you say, but for ordinary people like us who don’t know better but can only rely on capable people like you we end up just being really frustrated, who should we trust?

      • mamajo says:

        and your “nutshell” doesn’t say very much to be honest….when you talk about carbs, saturated fat, protein…..don’t really know what it really means anymore…and ever since i learned about the “real food” way of eating things, i have ditched processed food and eating lots of real food, meat, eggs, butter, milk, cheese, etc but i not only still have my baby fat but actually packing up some more pounds! so how can we just eat away?!

        • Sarah says:

          It takes time for your metabolism to heal, years in fact. Often you gain weight at first and then this levels out and changes. Matt Stone illustrates this and explains this in detail in his books.

    • Judy says:

      I just read a great book that you might like from my local library: “eating well, living better”, by Dr. Michael Fenster aka the Grassroots Gourmet. He’s an interventional cardiologist and a professionally trained chef. his book is full of advise about eating and preparing delicious and healthy food. Its also funny, full of wisdom, summarizes all the confusing and contradictory medical/health advise that seems to be coming at us from all directions these days. Includes recipes and cooking instructions. I’m buying a bunch of copies to give for Christmas gifts.

  7. lindsey says:

    Are they still not the greatest if they are sprouted? I’m guessing that they may be more palatable and /or nutritious if they aren’t in their seed state.

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Eh, well, that would take care of the phytic acid, but… I just don’t think it’s worth it. If you really enjoy chia seeds, go for it! But I think there are easier, cheaper, and better ways to get the nutrients they provide.

  8. Areta says:

    I just stumbled upon this site. I have started using chia seeds daily because my calcium is down. Thought this would be a good help. I also try to juice or have a green smoothie to help every few days. Since you say chia seeds are not the best option, what would you suggest for calcium intake to up my levels? By the way, I’m 10 weeks pregnant and really need to get this up.

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Congratulations on your pregnancy! Are you against dairy for any reason? That’s always a good source. Especially if you’re getting real, raw dairy from grass-fed cows that will provide you with true vitamin D3 that you need to absorb it. You can find out if raw, fresh milk is available in your state here: http://www.realmilk.com/real-milk-finder/

      But another great source of natural calcium is homemade bone broth. It’s really easy! Next time you roast a chicken, save all the bones and the carcass. The more bones, the better. You can also save egg shells and throw those in for extra calcium. Add in some vegetable scraps, filtered water, and a splash of vinegar, and cook in a crockpot for a full day. Tons of the minerals from the bones, including calcium, will have been leached out into the broth. Strain, and freeze in ice cube trays. You can use it for soups, cook rice in it, reduce it down and make gravy, or even just drink it by the mugful with some fresh pressed garlic and plenty of sea salt. It’s great stuff!

      • Jake says:

        You’re recommending raw milk to a pregnant woman? Wow that is incredibly unsafe and irresponsible for you to advise. Honestly, it’s impossible to take anything you write seriously after reading that. Have fun clogging up your arteries.

        • Stevie says:

          Because there was so much pasteurized dairy when civilization started. That’s why we’re all here….oh wait.

        • TracyKM says:

          It’s not the “rawness” of the milk that clogs up arteries, it’s the high amount of sugar (lactose, naturally occuring) that’s in all milk. It’s not even the fat that “clogs” up the arteries.
          If the cows are healthy, then the raw milk is healthy. Most humans around the world don’t drink cow’s milk though.

  9. Helena says:

    Wow, incredible information – thankyou for sharing it. I have wondered if all the hype over chia was overdone. Will definitely be sharing this around :)

  10. Kelly says:

    Hi, want do you think about hemp seeds & powders, etc.?.

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Hi Kelly, hemp seeds are extremely high in PUFA. Like 80%. They do have some omega-3, but it’s in the form of ALA which is essentially useless as it is in chia and flax. If you really love hemp seeds, go ahead and eat them. But I would recommend limiting it due to the PUFA content, and I would not recommend intentionally supplementing with hemp as with the hemp powder, which would pretty much certainly be loaded with oxidized PUFA.

  11. Kelly says:

    Thanks for replying and the information!. Which protein powder do you think is best?. I’m trying to lose a lot of weight and get healthy.

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Oh boy, I have some strong opinions about that! Might be one I’d like to tackle in the next Q&A video. I’ll give you a hint until then, though. I do not recommend protein powder, with the exception of gelatin powder (like I use to make jello). If you struggle with weight loss, I highly, highly recommend the book Diet Recovery.

    • Gavin says:

      Freeze-dried spirulina! It is over half complete protein, and is rich in vitamins and chlorophyll. One tsp. has 2 grams protein! However, it can be quite expensive and you would likely want to treat it slightly different than protein powder (just sprinkle it on everything.) But is a traditional food and can be a great supplement to animal protein.

  12. Gavin says:

    I’m a believer in chia, here are my reasons. First, I do agree with you that you shouldn’t force yourself to eat any food, regardless of how healthy. Everyone has different tastes, I believe, because everyone has slightly different dietary needs. Me? I love the little seeds. I like to make lemon or lime water, soak a few tbs. chia in it, and drink the slurry (This is the traditional way to consume chia). The texture reminds me a little of jello, a little of tapioca. I like that it contains omega-3s, yes, even the ALAs. Why? I’m a teen who consumes a lot of fermented and healthier foods, and I have no health issues. So I figure my digestive system is pretty good and can handle a few things like converting ALAs. And lastly, I like that it is an easy way to sneak some extra protein into my diet, and chia has a very favorable amino acid profile for a plant. :)

    • ButterBeliever says:

      If you enjoy it, by all means! Good for you. It’s just all about making informed choices, to me. I just don’t want people choking down the stuff in the name of “miraculous” health benefits that aren’t really there, you know? You make a great point that people may have different tastes because of their varying nutritional needs. If your body wants you to eat chia, you should. :)

  13. Marg says:

    Some interesting points but is there peer reviewed evidence I can read to form my own opinion? Thanks

  14. […] I like to educate myself and my readers on ALL sides of the nutritional story, I am including this link to why Butter Believer isn’t crazy about overloading on chia seeds (and flax too). The main problem being, there are better sources for the health benefits of chia seeds, and our […]

  15. Christian says:

    Watched ‘Hungry for Change’ and it had some interesting info — and Chia Seeds did come up.

    The fiber/omegas/insert good thing here wasn’t the focus so much as the goop. Actually, chia seeds, or Aloe Vera, or seaweed I guess, all have this goop you can consume. Gelatinous plant material.

    They indicated that much of what we eat has a ton of stuff in it that isn’t good for you. One of the ways the body protects itself from these toxins is to store it in fat. The liver is constantly trying to get toxins out of the system and throws them into the intestines via bile salts.

    Unfortunately, most of the time these toxins are just reabsorbed. This is where the goop comes in.

    My question is — is there merit to this goop? If so, I will probably opt for the chia seeds. Seaweed is just not enticing. Aloe is actually enticing, but I was reading and well.. Anything more complicated than ‘add water to seeds’ is probably not gonna work for me.

    Thanks.

  16. agne says:

    so if chia is so bad why it become sooo popular, i’m throwing mine into salads or kefir and i love itlike a tbs a day or every other day, hemp and flax too… i’m lost. And how did you find out all this. Thank you

  17. India says:

    Of course, I just bought 2 ounces :P You’re so right tho, I work in retail and I kid you not one woman came in for chia and the convo went kinda like this:
    “Do you have chia seeds?”
    “Yeah we do, they’re getting really popular and I’m not even sure what they’re great for.” (This was right around the time the great and powerful OZ started mentioning them)
    “Dr. Oz just said to keep some on hand to be healthy.”
    “…oh…good reason.”
    :P

  18. Ugh. I don’t know who to believe anymore. I came across your post on flax seeds on FB which lead me to this post on chia seeds. No wonder the saying goes “ignorance is bliss” healthy eating has become a stress trigger for me, learning that this is a superfood, oh no it isn’t, and that has this you want to avoid, oh wait no, you do want to eat that. There’s the raw milk butter and sprouted grains camp, then there’s the no dairy grains are the devil camp (i.e paleo) every time I read something it sounds credible and I simply just don’t know what to believe anymore!

    • Kat says:

      I can totally relate – if we believed everything we read on the internet, we’d probably all die of starvation or some crazy illness, because it seems like every single food available to us is demonized somewhere on line. My philosophy is this: take everything you read with a grain of salt (even articles that are “backed by science”, as they can be just as biased) – stick with a healthy, varied diet. If the diet is varied, we have less of a chance of eating way too much of any food that might be questionable. Don’t stress about food too much. Just enjoy it. Sometimes a stress response or placebo effect is what makes people think that they’re intolerant to certain foods.
      I do think there are certain obvious foods to reduce or avoid (trans fats, GMO, greasy fast food, etc) as well as some less obvious ones (refined seed oils like canola and soy, nonfat dairy, sugar substitutes, etc), but overall, if we stick with mostly wholesome, homemade meals & simple foods, we should be fine.

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  20. Kristin says:

    Stumbled across your blog via Nourishing Minimalism … love the things you have to say! Been on our own food journey for a little over a year and have been felt very confused over the vegan vs. paleo,and whole foods ideas. We’ve experimented with a number of different foods but have come to the realization that everything in moderation works best for us. I use chia seeds to make a homemade jelly and that’s about it. I think that works for moderation. Thanks for the info, I’ll be checking in regularly for your posts!

  21. […] We Losing the Right to Vaccine Exemptions? Should You Eat Chia Seeds? How a REAL FOODIST does […]

  22. Melissa Page says:

    I loved this post and I thought the “oranges had a bad night out” was hilarious, all chidishness aside (snicker) some people need to lighten up. I love your blog and I always look forward to your updates. I had entertained trying chia seeds but I am going to go for walnuts and almonds now, much healthier and tastier methinks.

    • Inger Grape says:

      Tree nuts can be highly allergenic. I know–if I eat them, I’m extremely constipated the next morning, leading to bleeding from my butt and general stomach upset for 1-1/2 weeks. For many years I blamed dairy. Even if you tolerate nuts, they are only meant to be eaten in small amounts.

  23. Vanessa says:

    Happy Family put “Salba” (chia seeds) in their baby food. I’ve been wondering why, and if I should be feeding it to my 10 month old. ‘Spose not. http://happyfamilybrands.com/faq/what-are-the-health-benefits-of-salba-chia/

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Yikes. That’s a lot of insoluble fiber to be shoving into a delicate little GI tract. Not something I’d recommend.

  24. mike says:

    Hi, nice blog. informative and entertaining.

    i know eating right is best blah blah blah but if you had to take a fiber supp. which one would you go for? Someone recommended Heather’s Tummy Care Acacia Tummy Fiber, its all soluble fiber. Do you think its ok? if not can u recommend one?

  25. mike says:

    my last comment got deleted im thinking maybe bc i used a brand name. anyway im looking for a fiber supplement can you recommend one? i have found one made from 100% soluble fiber but i dont know if there is something better out there tha u know about

  26. Sara says:

    Wow. You’re a breathe of fresh air.
    Honestly…I like chia. I really do. The weird, tapioca-type texture. Incredible poops – seriously. But I also love that you REALLY say it like it is – in a comical and entertaining way. I read some of the silly comments earlier. Holy stick-up-butt. And you offer a different perspective. One that gets people THINKING – for once – outside of what bloddy Dr. Oz tells them.
    Nothing is ever the Miracle Food – well… except maybe bone broth. And liver :) I HATE THE taste of liver – likely more than you hate chia – but my body needs it sometimes so i choke it down.
    This is why I’m done as a holistic nutritionist. People need to chill out about food. And just eat real stuff.
    Thanks for your post!!!!! I’ll look for updates.

  27. mj says:

    Thanks for the info! I am a little sick of whatever the Great Oz says people go nuts over! My father ate whatever he wanted IN MODERATION of course;)

    …even drank some but never smoked and he walked everyday(he never drove) he hardly ever slept and loved talking to people. He just lived! He was never on any medication. He lived into 80s and so well.

    And he was a hard working, blue collar man. No obsessing about investments, or material things.I guess what I am trying to say is…he lived simply:)

  28. […] Seeds! Are they Nutritional Superfood? Or is it B.S.? Read two very different views – which camp are you in? (I think I’m in both, but I […]

  29. PromiseJubilee says:

    I stumbled across your blog searching for answers about the phytic acid content in chia (The Mamanatural Show just posted a video about how to make a Mamachia mock-up drink) and when in comes to seeds phytic acid is always the first thought in my head. I think I love you. You could not have more effectively brought together every thought in my head. Thanks for answering my unspoken questions.

  30. Beth says:

    Chia seeds are a good source for those with gut issues. I have leaky gut. And let me tell you, these tiny seeds have made a world of difference for me.

  31. Suzanne says:

    Well, we’re all allowed to voice our opinion , so here’s mine. Chia is one of the foods that kept me alive during a particularly bad time in my life. I am fighting ovarian cancer, which unfortunately not found until it was stage 3C. I was finally diagnosed (after 2 years of being told my symptoms were caused by getting older, entering menopause & being stressed…wrong!) when I started to lose weight rapidly. Rapid weight loss is a very bad sign when you have cancer. The Nutritionist at Dana Farber worked with me to try to find foods that were low bulk, high nutrition. Chia was one of those foods, along with hummus, smoothies, custards & Greek yogurt. I don’t turn it into a glass full of orange glop, but then I happen to hate orange juice…my Mom believed in making us drink a great, big massively pulpy glass every day. I still break out in hives at the thought! A little added here & there, everything in moderation…I happen to be eating a quinoa salad for lunch today with some chia & pepitas sprinkled on top for crunch…

  32. Hannah MacArthur says:

    I would have liked a few more sources. If all you have is one source saying that eating A LOT of chia seeds can cause some not-so-good side-effects, your post doesn’t mean much to me. While I’d really really really like to take what you’re saying, I just am going to need some sources on it. Consider included all of your sources when you post nutritional information, it would be super helpful to us folks who keep finding conflicting articles/blog posts and don’t know who to trust.

  33. kt says:

    I am a vegan and love chia. It is inexpensive, filling and definitely makes a great egg substitute! I do not have access to free run, organic, gmo free eggs otherwise I would tempt going back to eating eggs. But for now, I am animal-product free and happy as can be!

    Like anything else – balance is essential. 3tbls/day max is usually what I consume. sometimes more if I have pudding and cereal, sometimes less. Hurrah for a vast array of plant-based foods to choose from!

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Sounds reasonable to me! Have you tried looking around on Craigslist for free range eggs? Lots of people keep backyard chickens that are basically pastured. My next door neighbor keeps chickens and gives eggs to neighbors. :)

  34. HopAJet says:

    I started using 2 T of chia seeds daily after having done lots of research. Your comments on chia seeds were the only negative comments I’ve seen about them. I look for articles written by professionals who are not trying to peddle products however. Could you please post links to your sources so that I can continue to research?
    Thank you.

  35. Mary s says:

    If you have seen cod with big worms being pulled out of them you certainly would not eat any type of cod liver oil! Also they are bottom feeders and big fish so very toxic..give me chia seeds anyway!

  36. Ken says:

    I took chia for 2 weeks straight & I lost 8lbs. It made me feel healthier and gave me energy. Idk where you getting your sources from but most of your information is incorrect. Chia seeds don’t even have a taste to them. Are you even stating facts or is this all opinion?

  37. Deborah says:

    Here’s my story. I had tried chia last year but didn’t like the taste and texture. I only used chia powder occasionally in smoothies. I was eating a small handful of walnuts about 5 times s week and 1-2 free range eggs, very limited processed food, usually only when out to dinner and even then I bring my own stuff (fruit and veggies) to add on to what restaurants want to feed people. So not a perfect diet but better than 99.9% of the people I know. Several people earlier in the year hsd marveled at my soft skins and i look younger than my age. Which is 50.Then I was in whole foods and they had bags of hemp seeds on drastic sale and in front of each checkout line. I bought a few bags and started eating 2-3 tablespoons a day. Several weeks later I kept finding myself touching the back of my hands because they were so soft. I thought people were probably moticying that I kept touching my hands. Then noticing when I touched my face or whatever it felt noticeably softer. I eventually put 2 and 2 together and now know it is hemp. Continuing to use it I am still amazed at how baby soft my skin is now. So how can something not be beneficial with that type of improvement in already very soft skin? Also my very good blood pressure got even better.

  38. Kelly says:

    Had a horrific experience due to chia. Had no idea it could cause severe constipation but it did. It basically formed a hard plug in my sons rectum. Usually he has a BM everyday but the day he ate chia and the day after he did not. So by day 3 he was getting pretty miserable. I gave him 2 tbsp with chocolate milk to make a pudding. Added berries etc…anyhow end result was horrible. I don’t recommend giving it to kids :( I have even noticed in myself it bulks up the stool). Be careful with little ones. I thought it was supposed to be so wonderful. Guess not. Thanks

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Yikes!! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Vikkipink says:

      The same happened to me!! I ate it three days in a row and it caused a plug and I had to go to extreme measures to get my bowels moving. Scared me- almost went to the hospital. They were completely undigested.

      • Wendy Riddel says:

        Exactly HOW MUCH chia did you and your son consume? and also what quantity of water and other fluids did you consume during that period?
        Eat a cup of oat groats dry, if you can, and see what it will do to your gut, then consume a cup of oats cooked, about 3 cups quantity, and see what happens.
        Dry rice grains were eaten by starving prisoners of war the grains swelled up when encountering the moisture in the stomach, in some cases actually splitting open the stomach of the starving individual.

  39. chia is good says:

    Chia seeds are not only full of fiber they are also slippery; that is a great combination for cleaning the digestion.

  40. Alessandra says:

    Your overall ideology on what is good or the “perfect” food is so entirely ignorant that it blows my mind away. Please educate yourself. If you have time you should watch the following documentaries; Hungry for Change, Forks Over Knives, Food Matters, Vegucated. I mean science plus common sense is a recipe for a healthy life. Pretty simple.

    “Dairy”
    Oh my goodness…..

  41. justthinkin says:

    “It’s called a water bottle, people.”

    It’s called a 5k, half-marathon, triathlon, marathon. Any additional boost to hydration can really help!

  42. Vikkipink says:

    I had bought chia seeds to try them out as a part of clean eating routine. I mixed two tablespoons with a cup or two of almond milk in a mason jar overnight. It was delicious. I ate it three days in a row. And then I became super constipated. I couldn’t have a bowel movement for the life of me- it was too big to pass. Being a nurse I was able to exhaust all my medical training with treatment of constipation without having to go to the hospital (let’s just say it was not pretty). When I managed to pass it it was all of the chia seeds clumped together in a tight mass not digested. I was so sad. I stopped eating them. And have been looking for resources that support this ever since.

  43. Edith says:

    I’m reading the comments of people who disagree with the article and post a comment. I’m really surprised on how the blogger attacks them. Yes, it’s your blog, yes, it isn’t a medical journal, but people respectfully disagreeing with you doesn’t call for a “go stuff yourself wit useless chia seeds” and all the people who follow this blog attacking. People blindly believe and think that questioning is breaking te loyalty they have to someone. We can all provide our points of view. I’m so disappointed on the blogger for such harsh answers, you after all open the doors to comments, you should embrace them and thank people who are reading your posts, and simply give a gracious “thanks for your comments”, rather than come across like an arrogant person. Many of this new blogs on nutrition, paleo etc. are not stuff you discovered, it has been known for years, the American culture is just getting familiar with traditions other cultures have and keep embracing for centuries.

  44. Rosa52 says:

    I buy my organic chia seeds from Amazon for $8.99 a pound. Who is selling them for $55 a pound? I grind them and have a teaspoon a day in my smoothie. It last a long time because of the way I eat them.

    TY for your info.

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Click on the links, you’ll see what I mean. It’s a shady MLM company trying to brand chia seeds as a separate thing.

  45. Doug Wallace says:

    Good post. I have a wellness blog and was all “gung ho” about chia, but when I tried it, I felt really “stopped up”, as in my regular bowel movement disappeared for a day and a half. I also researched that flax “might” increase estrogen levels in me, although if true, I’m not sure the impact. But when you speak of prostate cancer and such, it’s obvious those type of imbalances are at the root of those issues.

  46. Sarah says:

    Absolutely spot on and HILARIOUS. I just laughed so hard. I cannot tell you how much I despise Chia seeds and how useless I have always thought they were. I laughed so hard when you talked about the orange juice that had a rough night out and then pooped in the orange juice!!! HA!! I really needed a laugh right about now too. Thank you

  47. Midge says:

    Please talk to me about Salba. We started purchasing Salba about 5 years ago. It’s the golden or blonde Salba in color. Now all of a sudden, “Salba is Chia” and there’s no difference in the dark and the light and Salba and Chia???? I’m really confused and my husband almost refuses to purchase chia, tho he still does. :) Our Health food store doesn’t care the “Salba” anymore. comments/???

  48. Ashley says:

    i like to make raspberry chia jam with them! yum! i dont eat them for nutrition value.. i use them as a thickener. seen a recipe for chocolate avocado pudding using chia seeds as the thickener. they’re not THAT bad.. better than any dairy, meat, or grains you can usually find in the grocery store. I have to admit though, those 3 things are better than chia seeds but only when fermented. I also wanted to mention that nobody should ever ingest chia seeds that haven’t been soaked first. They absorb a lot!! You could dehydrate yourself if you eat them before soaking them.

  49. Amanda says:

    I eat my chia seeds just like your mother! Sometimes it’s orange juice sometimes it’s yogurt or oatmeal. Not every day tho. I also take them with me when hiking/camping to put in my water bottle. I don’t think the texture is gross at all. I appreciate your article but I disagree with your assessment :)

  50. Leanne says:

    Loved your post! The blunt honesty is great!
    I had switched from flax to Chia and still did not achieve the results I was looking for, which was to hopefully lower my estrogen. I, fortunately, never had any negative results with Chia so, needless to say, they’re still sitting in my cupboard after 6 months because I never noticed a difference when I took them. Figured I was wasting my time and money.

  51. Wendy Riddel says:

    I eat chia seeds, flax seeds, quinoa, amaranth and a heap of other things like that.
    I don’t believe that they are the be all and end all to a healthy diet but they are an interesting tasty addition to a healthy diet.
    They provide an extension to the range of foods to eat. Just as I add coconut flesh, water and oil to my cooking. I use butter and yoghurt, eggs and wheat, rye and barley, Millet and Teff.
    Humans are born and bred to be omnivores and evolved eating a wide range of items from fruit to vegetables and grains, red meat, seafood and poultry so adding chia, flaxseeds etc to our diets gets us back to the variety of foods we should be eating. If has been estimated that pre-agricultural development humans consumed 160 different plant species, today we consume less than 30. So I figure that adding ancient grains and seeds to my diet is only going to do me good. Not produce a miracle but contribute to my health in a positive manner.

  52. […] – Chia seeds, yeah or nay?  I’ve been seeing chia seeds pop up all over my Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram feeds and […]

  53. Jess says:

    You mention butter having butyrate, but it’s preformed. I’ve read that it needs to be produced in the gut, that’s why butyrate sups don’t wok either. Any feed back on this would be interesting if anyone knows more.

  54. Janis says:

    Thank you for this Chia post. I bought some not too long ago… now it appears that I may be using them to make Chia pets with…lols. And it looks like I will be throwing out the flax seeds also.

  55. Holly Simon says:

    Just wondering why you cite that one source ‘the chia controversy’ in your “Verdict” section: ‘Studies have shown that high levels of chia consumption can lead to some pretty significant inflammatory and allergenic effect’. I don’t believe the article you cite there has anything to do with chia having either an inflammatory or allergenic effect. Did you mean to cite another source or are you just bull-shitting that statement? I’m just curious because I’d really like to know if there are actually studies which say this…

  56. Fin says:

    Interesting article. Would you mind citing the source that says that ALA are bad for us? (You know kale is also a good source of it.)

    The link to the Oregon state publication you provided stated nothing of the sort. Neither does it say that humans are terrible at converting ALA into “usable forms” like DHA and EPA. What it says is that humans are not capable of synthesizing our own ALA, which means we have to get it from our food.

    I have also been unable to find a reputable source that says insoluble fibers are bad for us. Rather both soluble and insoluble fibers have their benefits and are necessary.

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3/

    Also, while the ratio of insoluble to soluble fiber you mention is correct. This is actually a good ratio for soluble fiber, better that than found in most other food.

    Also, where did you get the idea that PUFAs should be avoided? Both omega-3s and omega-6s are PUFAs.

    Please, it would be a great help if you could point me to the sources you rely on. I am very interesting in finding out more.

  57. ashley says:

    I thought ALA omegas were good for you? Well I do like your article, it is thorough at least. I really love chia seeds! I suffer from celiac disease, GERD, IBS, RA and PCOS. Mt digestive system is so whacked and I suffer from frequent constipation. Im only 23 years old so I have a long life to live with these conditions. I am big on healthy food and holistic medicine. I was skeptical about chia seeds as well. My mother uses them on her cereal, one day I decided to try some. I also started using them in my smoothies, which I regularly made before to help me with low vitamin and poor bowel habits. I gave the seeds a week and now I am a believer. Before, I even had Metamucil 2x daily, I went once every two days, maybe once a day (tmi sorry :-/) and it was a very unpleasant experience. The only thing i changed in my diet was adding Chua seeds and stopping Metamucil. I not go with ease twice a day. I feel better, im not bloated, I have more energy, and I lost about 5 pounds. The only downside is if you eat too much at once without letting your body get used to them, you will get gassy and have a loose stomach. Also, as with any food, use in moderation. I blend 2 tbs every morning in my smoothies :-) My doctor said they are really good for you, now that proved it to myself I will definitely recommend them to others.

  58. CZJ says:

    …i don’t really know why I started eating these about a month ago…in my smoothies. Have a smoothie about three or four times a week….Now…I have rock solid stone poops. It is the worst. It hurts…not to say too much about my bowel movements…but I think I was doing really well with the regularity thing…Now… well… OUCH.

    Don’t just start eating things because some hippy said to.

    Am I butthurt? YES. I AM ACTUALLY BUTTHURT IN REAL LIFE.

    Say NO TO CHIA!!!!

    • ButterBeliever says:

      LOL!!! Ohh I needed this. Funniest comment ever.

      Er… I mean, sorry about your poops, man. But those are words to live by: “Don’t just start eating things because some hippy said to.” Thank you.

  59. MM says:

    During a colonoscopy the phys. found Chia seeds in my sister’s colon. The last time she ate them was more than 6 months ago! Now, I’m a nurse, but not an expert, anything that sticks to the walls of the colon for OVER 6 months cannot be beneficial. The phys. had to scrape them away from the walls, there were not many, but they were still there. He told her he sees it all the time since a certain TV doctor started touting their benefits. Blueberries are best for your colon and body!

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