How much is too much chia seeds in a day?

Chia seeds have become an increasingly popular superfood in recent years due to their high nutritional content. However, some people go overboard and consume too many chia seeds, which can cause potential health risks. This article will examine how much chia seeds is too much to eat in a day.

What are chia seeds?

Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that come from the chia plant (Salvia hispanica), which is related to mint. Despite their small size, chia seeds are packed with nutrients and fiber.

A 1-ounce (28 gram) serving of chia seeds contains:

  • Fiber: 11 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 grams are omega-3s)
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDI
  • They also contain a decent amount of zinc, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2.

This nutrient profile explains why chia seeds are often considered a superfood. They provide a concentrated amount of nutrients with relatively few calories.

Potential benefits of chia seeds

Research has linked chia seeds to many health benefits, including:

  • Improved blood sugar control. Studies show eating chia seeds may lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood pressure in people with diabetes.
  • Reduced chronic inflammation. The omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds have anti-inflammatory effects that may help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
  • Enhanced digestive health. The fiber in chia seeds acts as a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in your gut, which is important for optimal digestive health.
  • Improved bone health. Chia seeds are high in calcium, phosphorus and protein, all nutrients needed for bone health. Intaking adequate amounts may prevent bone-related conditions like osteoporosis.
  • Increased energy and endurance. The combination of protein, fat and fiber in chia seeds provides sustainable energy. Some studies found enhanced endurance with chia seed consumption.

However, more research is needed to confirm some of these preliminary benefits observed in studies thus far.

How many chia seeds should you eat per day?

There is no official guideline for how many chia seeds to eat per day. The optimal amount can vary based on your age, gender, health status and dietary needs.

Here are some general recommendations for chia seed intake based on available evidence:

  • 1–2 tablespoons (10–20 grams) per day for general health
  • Up to 4–6 tablespoons (40–60 grams) per day for therapeutic purposes like lowering cholesterol or blood sugar under medical supervision
  • Start with 1 tablespoon (10 grams) per day and gradually increase to avoid digestive side effects
  • Drink plenty of water when eating chia seeds to avoid choking or esophageal obstruction

Consuming up to 40 grams (around 3–4 tablespoons) of chia seeds per day is generally considered safe for most people. Below are some reasons why eating too much can be harmful.

Risks of eating too much

Eating too many chia seeds can cause:

  • Digestive issues. Since chia seeds form a gel in liquid, overdoing it may cause bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation in some people.
  • Thyroid problems. Very high fiber intakes can interfere with thyroid hormone absorption and trigger autoimmune reactions in susceptible individuals.
  • Nutrient deficiencies. Overloading on chia seeds may cause you to miss out on other essential nutrients since it can curb appetite and displace other foods in the diet.
  • Weight gain. Although touted for weight loss, chia seeds are still calorie-dense. Consuming excess amounts without reducing other calories can lead to weight gain.
  • Choking hazard. Chia seeds can expand in the esophagus and cause choking if consumed dry and without enough liquid.

To reduce your risk, make sure to drink plenty of water with dry chia seeds and start with smaller amounts. If you have a history of digestive issues or thyroid problems, discuss chia seed intake with your healthcare provider.

Daily upper limit

Most studies observing benefits provided around 20–40 grams (2–4 tablespoons) of chia seeds daily without adverse effects.

According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the safe upper limit is up to 15 grams of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) from chia seeds per day:

  • 1 tablespoon (12 grams) of chia seeds provides around 5.6 grams of ALA
  • 15 grams of ALA equals around 2.5 tablespoons (30 grams) of chia seeds

The EFSA set this guideline because very high ALA intakes may increase bleeding risk and inflammation in some people.

However, this limit is conservative. Human studies have not reported increased bleeding or inflammation with daily intakes of up to 50 grams of chia seeds per day.

For optimal health, it’s likely safe to eat 1–2 tablespoons (10–20 grams) of chia seeds per day as part of a balanced diet. Upper safe limits are likely around 3–4 tablespoons (30–40 grams) daily, though much higher amounts have been taken safely short-term in studies.


  • Chia seeds provide a hefty amount of nutrients with minimal calories.
  • Research links chia seeds to health benefits like improved blood sugar, digestion, heart health, bone strength and more.
  • Aim for 1–2 tablespoons (10–20 grams) daily as a general target.
  • Limits of up to 4 tablespoons (40 grams) daily appear safe for most people based on studies.
  • Higher amounts increase risk of digestive issues and thyroid problems.
  • Drink plenty of water when consuming dry chia seeds to avoid choking.
  • Check with your healthcare provider if you have a history of digestive or thyroid issues.

How to add chia seeds to your diet

Here are some tips for incorporating chia seeds into your diet:

  • Add to smoothies. Use chia seeds as part of the base in your smoothies.
  • Sprinkle on yogurt or oatmeal. Top your breakfast bowl with 1–2 teaspoons of chia seeds for extra nutrition.
  • Include in baked goods. Add a tablespoon or two of chia seeds to muffins, breads or cakes for added fiber.
  • Make chia pudding. There are many recipes that combine chia seeds with milk and your choice of fruits and spices.
  • Add to salads or sandwiches. Sprinkle some chia seeds in your salad or on top of sandwiches for crunch.
  • Make a chia jam. Mix chia seeds with blended fruit like strawberries or blueberries to create a spread or jam substitute.
  • Create energy bars or balls. Form chia seeds with dates, nuts, cinnamon and cocoa powder into an on-the-go energy bite.

Chia seeds have a mild, nutty taste. They can be seamlessly incorporated into a wide variety of dishes and recipes.

It’s best to soak or grind chia seeds before eating. Otherwise they may pass through your system intact without you benefiting from their nutrients.

Try grinding chia seeds in a coffee grinder or soaking them in liquid for 10–15 minutes to release their gel and nutrients.

Potential side effects

When consumed in normal food amounts, chia seeds are likely safe for most people.

However, eating too many may cause digestive side effects, such as:

  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea

Make sure to drink plenty of liquids when eating dry chia seeds or high amounts. Start with small portions and gradually increase intake over time if needed.

People with a history of dysphagia or trouble swallowing should use caution when consuming chia seeds, especially in dry form.

Chia seeds may also interact with certain medications like blood thinners and thyroid drugs. Check with your healthcare provider if taking medications.

The bottom line

Chia seeds provide an array of nutrients with very little calories. They have many scientifically-proven benefits, including improved blood sugar control.

While chia seeds are very healthy, more is not necessarily better. Eating too many may cause unpleasant digestive side effects.

For most people, 1–2 tablespoons (10–20 grams) per day is a good target for general health. Upper limits are likely around 3–4 tablespoons (30–40 grams) daily, though higher intakes may be safe in the short term.

To avoid adverse effects, make sure to drink plenty of water with dry chia seeds and gradually increase your intake.

Overall, chia seeds can be a nutritious addition to a balanced diet when consumed in moderation.

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