Chia Seeds: Health, Uses, and Nutrition

Chia seeds are an edible food from chia, a flowering plant from the mint family called Lamiaceae. Its scientific name is Salvia hispanica (S. hispanica).

Chia was an important plant in the Aztec and Mesoamerican Indian cultures. Chia is native to Mexico and Guatemala but also grows in other parts of the world, including Australia, the United States, and parts of South America.

Chia seeds contain various substances thatmay be responsible for how they work. Some of these substances include:

This article discusses what you should know about chia seeds—their potential uses, side effects, and interactions.

Dietary supplements are not regulated the way drugs are in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. Choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP),, or NSF International, when possible.

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, they are not necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, talking to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and checking in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications is important.

Supplement Facts

  • Active Ingredient(s): Omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, proteins, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, rosmarinic acid
  • Alternate Names(s): Chia seed, Salvia hispanica, S. hispanica, Mexican chia, salba chia
  • Legal Status: A food; legal in all U.S. states
  • Suggested Dose: May vary based on the specific dosage form, medical condition, and your nutrition needs
  • Safety Considerations: Possible side effects, medication interactions, and special considerations for use in children, pregnancy, and breastfeeding

Uses of Chia Seeds

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

The overall evidence for chia seeds' potential health benefits is somewhat limited.

As with many natural products, additional, extensive research is necessary. But people might use chia seeds for various reasons.

Currently, research is most robust for the following conditions:


In a research review, data from a small study suggested chia seeds lowered after-meal (postprandial) blood glucose (sugar) levels. But this effect might depend on the number of chia seeds you eat.

In another small study from the same review, chia seeds also reduced the weight and waist size of people with type 2 diabetes (high blood sugar). In this study, the chia seed group were asked to take 30 grams (g) of chia seeds per 1,000 kilocalories (kcal) every day for six months.

For context, kcal is a measure of energy from nutrition and exercise, which may differ slightly for everyone.

The review also mentioned another small study that supports using chia seeds along with standard treatments for people with well-controlled type 2 diabetes.

In this clinical trial, study participants took roughly 37 grams of chia seeds daily for 12 weeks. By the end of the study, participants experienced lower hemoglobin A1c (average blood sugar over the past few months) and blood pressure.

Participants also had lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein made by the liver that can indicate inflammation in the body.

Moreover, people who took chia sees had lower levels of von Willebrand factor (vWF) and fibrinogen, proteins involved in blood-clotting.

These results suggest that chia seeds may help reduce risk factors for heart-related medical conditions in people with well-controlled diabetes.

An example of a heart-related medical condition is a heart attack.

While these results are positive, more research with higher quality, larger, and longer-term studies is still necessary.

High Blood Pressure

In the small study, taking 35 grams of chia seed powder daily for 12 weeks lowered blood pressure—regardless of whether the people took a blood pressure medication.

While promising, better research is needed to assess chia seeds' effects better.

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

In a small clinical trial, more than half of the study participants experienced an improvement in their NAFLD. NAFLD is a fatty liver condition, which isn't due to alcohol use.

In this study, participants included 25 grams of grounded chia seeds as part of their daily isocaloric diet (one with moderate fats, proteins, and calories) for eight weeks. The participants' daily isocaloric diet consisted of 30% fat, 15% protein, and 55% carbohydrates (carbs).

Although these results are positive, further, extensive research with higher-quality and larger studies is still necessary.

Cholesterol-Lowering Effects

According to the small NAFLD clinical trial, 25 grams (g) of grounded chia seeds with an isocaloric diet for eight weeks lowered the total cholesterol of people with NAFLD. But additional higher-quality research is needed to evaluate the effects of chia seeds on cholesterol.

Chia Seeds Supplement Image
Westend61 / Getty Images.

What Are the Side Effects of Chia Seeds?

Your provider may suggest chia seeds to help lower cholesterol, NAFLD symptoms, or blood sugar levels due to type 2 diabetes.

However, consuming chia seeds may have potential side effects. These side effects may be mild or severe.

Common Side Effects

A 2020 study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Nutrition considered heat-treated chia seeds generally safe when added to foods.

However, based on one small study, digestive system–related side effects might develop.

According to another study cited in a review article, chia seeds might result in some weight loss.

Severe Side Effects

There were no adverse effects with chia seeds, according to a small clinical trial.

However, a severe allergic reaction is a serious side effect possible with any medication or food.

There are reports of allergic reactions to chia seeds. If you're having a severe allergic reaction to chia seeds, symptoms may include breathing difficulties, itchiness, and rash (specifically dermatitis).

Since chia seeds might affect blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood-clotting proteins, other potentially serious complications may include excessively low blood pressure (hypotension) and blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Severe bruising or bleeding also are possible.

There is also a report of kidney problems when adding chia seeds to a high-oxalate diet (a diet with foods that bind to calcium in the large intestine, neutralizing their impact). High blood oxalate levels may also raise your risk of kidney stones.

If you're having a severe allergic reaction or if any of your symptoms feel life-threatening, call 911 and get medical help right away.


The chia seed is a source of fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids), proteins, and a few B-complex vitamins, including thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and niacin (vitamin B3). It's also a source of vitamins A, C, and E.

Its minerals include selenium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and sodium.

Chia seeds are also rich in soluble fiber. This may be one reason why chia seeds can lower cholesterol.


A healthcare provider may advise against taking chia seeds if any of the following applies to you:

Severe allergic reaction: Avoid using chia seed if you have a known allergy to it or its components (ingredients or parts). If you're unsure, ask a pharmacist or healthcare provider for a complete list of the ingredients.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Most chia seed product labels don't target pregnant or breastfeeding people. While some prenatal products contain chia seeds, little information is available about the effects and safety of chia seeds while pregnant or breastfeeding.

For this reason, reach out to a healthcare provider to discuss the benefits and risks before taking chia seeds.

Adults over age 65: Older adults participated in past chia seed–related clinical trials, but contemporary studies with higher-quality, larger, and longer-term studies are still necessary.

Since some older adults are more likely to have medication side effects than younger people, they should take precautions when taking chia seeds and other supplements.

Children: Most chia seed product labels don't target infants and children. While some products may contain chia seeds, little information is available about the effects and safety of chia seeds on children.

Talk with a healthcare provider if you are considering chia seeds for your child.

Bleeding conditions: By possibly affecting specific blood-clotting proteins, chia seeds may increase your risk of bleeding. If you have a bleeding condition, healthcare providers may want you to avoid chia seeds.

A bleeding condition—like von Willebrand disease—will further increase the likelihood of heavy bleeding with certain medications, such as chia seeds. VWD runs in families. People with VWD have a problem with a protein that prevents the blood from clotting appropriately.

Diabetes: Chia seeds may affect your blood sugar. A healthcare provider may want to closely monitor your blood sugar levels—especially if you take medications for diabetes.

High blood pressure: Chia seeds may affect your blood pressure. A healthcare provider may want to closely monitor your blood pressure while taking chia seeds, especially when taking medications for high blood pressure.

Kidney problems: If you have kidney problems or kidney stones, chia seeds may worsen these conditions. For this reason, a healthcare provider may recommend your avoiding chia seeds.

How Much Chia Seed Should I Consume?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

While there are some studies on chia seeds in humans, more studies with high-quality clinical trials are still necessary. For this reason, there are no guidelines on the appropriate dosage to take chia seeds for any condition.

In some clinical trials, however, the amount of chia seeds roughly ranged between 25 and 37 grams per day. The specific dose may vary based on the dosage form, medical condition, and kilocalories.

Follow a healthcare provider's recommendations or read the label instructions if you take chia seeds.

How to Incorporate Chia Seeds Into Your Diet?

You can easily include chia seeds into your diet by adding whole or grounded seeds to your food.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Chia Seed?

There is little information about the safety, toxicity, and overdose of chia seeds in humans. But chia seeds appear generally safe at typical amounts added to food.

Symptoms of overdose with chia seeds are likely similar to its potential common and serious side effects, just excessive and severe. For example, a diet high in chia seeds might raise your risk of kidney problems or kidney stones.

If you accidentally took too many chia seeds or suspect you are experiencing life-threatening side effects, seek immediate medical attention.


There is limited information about possible medication interactions with chia seeds. Possible interactions are based on the potential uses of chia seeds.

Use caution when taking chia seeds with the following:

Blood pressure medications: Chia seeds may lower your blood pressure. This can cause additive effects (intensifying the effects of other drugs) with your blood pressure medications, such as Zestril (lisinopril), lowering your blood pressure too much.

Blood thinners: Chia seeds may lower the levels of certain proteins involved in blood clotting. This may have additive effects with blood thinners, increasing your risk of bruising and bleeding side effects. Jantoven (warfarin) is an example blood thinner.

Cholesterol medications: Chia seeds may lower your cholesterol. For this reason, chia seeds may have additive effects with your cholesterol medications, like statins.

Diabetes medications: Chia seeds may lower your blood sugar. This may have additive effects with your diabetes medications—like insulin—and lower your blood sugar too much.

Medications affected by fiber: Chia contains soluble fiber. This can affect the way some medications are absorbed. These medicines include some anti-seizure medications, bile acid sequestrants, diabetes medications, and tricyclic antidepressants.

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredients list and nutrition facts panel to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. Review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store Chia Seeds

Storage instructions vary for different products. Carefully read the directions and packaging label on the container.

Keep your medications tightly closed and out of the sight and reach of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet. Store your medications, including supplements, in a cool, dry place.

Discard after one year or as indicated on the packaging. Avoid putting unused and expired products down the drain or in the toilet. Visit the FDA website to learn where and how to discard all unused and expired drugs. You may be able to find disposal boxes in your area, as well.

Ask a pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions about how to dispose of your medications or natural products.

If you plan to travel with chia seeds, get familiar with your final destination's regulations. Checking with the U.S. Embassy and Consulate website may be a helpful resource.

Ask a pharmacist or healthcare provider any questions about how to travel with your medications or natural products.

Similar Supplements

Chia seeds may affect body composition, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and NAFLD.

So, other potentially similar supplements may include:

  • Chromium: A potential use of chromium is for better blood sugar control in people with diabetes. But based on the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), results on chromium's effectiveness are mixed.
  • Flaxseed: According to the NCCIH, flaxseed may reduce blood pressure. As for lowering cholesterol, results are mixed, but flaxseed might have some effect on decreasing cholesterol.
  • Garlic: Garlic may lower blood pressure, but the evidence is mixed for lowering cholesterol.
  • Green tea: Green tea may lower blood pressure.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids—such as in fish oil—might help decrease blood pressure.
  • S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe): There are studies evaluating the effects of SAMe on NAFLD, but there's not enough evidence to support SAMe's use for NAFLD.

Do not combine multiple natural products until you first talk with a healthcare provider or pharmacist. Getting advice can help you avoid possible interactions and side effects and ensure you're giving these supplements a fair trial at appropriate doses.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the most common dosage form of chia seeds?

    Chia seeds are available in a few different dosage forms, with powder potentially being the most common.

  • Are there chia seed products from U.S. manufacturers?

    Yes. Manufacturers in the United States make chia seed products.

  • Do chia seeds have any health benefits?

    The chia seed is a source of fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids), proteins, and a few B-complex vitamins, including thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3). It's also a source of vitamins A, C, and E. It contains the minerals selenium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and sodium.

  • How much chia seed should I eat?

    At typical amounts added to food, chia seeds appear to be generally safe.

    The "best" amount of chia seeds to eat or take may vary depending on the dosage form, medical condition, and kilocalories.

    But in some clinical trials, the daily amount of chia seeds roughly ranged between 30 and 37 grams.

    Talk with a healthcare provider before taking or eating chia seeds, especially if you have kidney issues or develop kidney stones easily.

  • How do I take chia seeds safely?

    To safely take natural medications—like chia seeds—inform healthcare providers and pharmacists about any medications you take. This includes over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, natural medicines, and supplements.

    Your healthcare provider can help prevent possible interactions and side effects. They can also ensure you’re giving chia seeds a fair trial at appropriate doses.

Sources of Chia Seeds & What to Look For

There are several different sources of chia seeds, but health nutrition guidelines typically place more importance on food sources to improve the diet.

Although food sources are preferable, there is still a place for supplements for people who have trouble absorbing nutrients. This may be the case in people in certain age groups or with certain medical conditions.

Food Sources of Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are naturally available from the chia plant of the mint family. Chia was an important plant in the Aztec and Mesoamerican Indian cultures.

Chia seeds made up a large portion of their diet. The Aztecs would roast chia seeds or ground the seeds into flour. Whole seeds were also sources of nutrition for long journeys.

The USDA has placed chia seeds in its standard reference database of legacy foods.

Additionally, you might find whole or grounded chia seeds added to the following:

  • Cereals
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products
  • Desserts and other sweets
  • Edible ices
  • Fruit products
  • Nonalcoholic drinks
  • Vegetable products

Chia Seed Supplements

Chia seeds might be available in the following forms:

  • Caplets
  • Capsules
  • Liquid
  • Powder

Vegetarian and vegan options might also be available. You may also see chia seeds in combination with other ingredients.

Your specific product will depend on your preference and what you hope to achieve. Each product may work a bit differently, depending on the form.

Therefore, following a healthcare provider's recommendations or label directions is essential.


Chia seeds are edible seeds from the flowering chia plant that might have potential uses in people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

But similar to many medications and natural products, side effects and medication interactions are possible. And since further extensive research is necessary, it's also important not to delay the diagnosis and treatment of your medical conditions.

Before taking chia seeds, involve a pharmacist or healthcare provider to help you safely achieve your health goals.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Ross Phan, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, BCPS
Ross is a writer for Verywell with years of experience practicing pharmacy in various settings. She is also a board-certified clinical pharmacist and the founder of Off Script Consults.