Despite their small size, chia seeds are full of nutrients, including Omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, and antioxidants. They have a mild, nutty flavor and can be a good addition to a balanced diet.

Some research suggests chia seeds may help improve the ratio of “good” and “bad” cholesterol in the blood. However, more research is necessary to confirm this.

This article discusses the health benefits, nutritional content, and uses for chia seeds.

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Research suggests that chia seeds have the following health benefits:

High in fiber

A diet with adequate fiber helps prevent constipation and keeps the digestive tract healthy, but many Americans do not eat enough.

Chia seeds can help people to meet dietary requirements for fiber. One serving of 28 grams (g), or 2 1/2 tablespoons (tbsp), provides just under 10 g of fiber. The daily recommendation for adults is 25–30 g, so a serving of chia seeds can fulfill 30% of this.

May help with weight loss

In addition to helping with digestive health, fiber may help people feel fuller for longer. This can make high fiber foods useful for those trying to reach a moderate weight.

However, there is little evidence to support the claim that chia seeds in particular can promote weight loss. An older 2011 review concluded that there was limited data to suggest this, but a small 2014 study involving 26 people found chia seeds did not improve weight loss compared with a placebo.

More robust research is necessary to determine if chia seeds are especially useful for reaching a moderate weight.

May help increase HDL cholesterol

A 2021 review of 10 clinical trials found that chia seeds increased the amount of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and lowered low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is also known as “good” cholesterol, while LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol.

The authors concluded that chia seeds have a protective effect on the balance of lipids in the blood and a neutral or beneficial effect on other markers of cardiovascular health.

These findings may mean chia seeds could be a good addition to the diet of those who want to lower LDL cholesterol or raise HDL cholesterol. However, it is important to note that no single food can treat high cholesterol.

May reduce spikes in blood sugar

A very small 2017 study involving 15 participants found that compared with flax seeds, chia seeds slowed down how quickly the body released glucose, reducing the spike in blood sugar that comes after eating carbohydrates.

This could prove useful to people with type 2 diabetes, but there are no studies that specifically prove chia seeds can help with managing blood sugar levels in those with the condition.

High in Omega-3 and Omega-6

Chia seeds contain 6.72 g of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) per serving. This includes Omega-3 and Omega-6.

Researchers are still learning about how PUFAs affect health, but a 2020 review of 86 clinical trials found that higher Omega-3 intakes could reduce the risk of heart attacks and their associated risk factors. This may mean chia seeds are a good addition to a heart-healthy diet.

However, the authors highlighted that the evidence was only low to medium quality. No studies have proven that consuming chia seeds in particular can reduce the chance of heart disease.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, a 28 g (1 ounce) or 2 1/2 tbsp serving of chia seeds contains:

  • 131 calories (kcal)
  • 8.4 g of fat
  • 13.07 g of carbohydrate
  • 11.2 g of fiber
  • 5.6 g of protein
  • 0 g sugar

Chia seeds also contain:

  • calcium
  • zinc
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • phosphorous

They also have smaller amounts of many other nutrients, such as folate, vitamin A, and copper.

People can eat chia seeds raw by adding them to a variety of foods, such as cereal, yogurt, smoothies, and as a topping on salads.

It is also possible to soak chia seeds in a liquid, which turns the seeds into a gel-like substance. This can make them useful for thickening desserts, such as chia seed pudding.

To make a strawberry chia seed pudding, mix the following ingredients in a blender:

  • 1—1.5 cups of frozen strawberries
  • 3 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp of coconut nectar or maple syrup
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) of lemon juice
  • 1.5 cups of dairy or non-dairy milk

Chill the mixture in a refrigerator for an hour or so before eating.

It is also possible to use chia seeds as a substitute for eggs in baked goods, such as muffins and cookies. This can be helpful for people with egg allergies or intolerances, or for those following a vegan diet.

To use chia seeds as an egg substitute in baking, try mixing 1 tbsp of whole chia seeds, or 2 tsp of ground chia seeds, with 3 tbsp of water. Let them sit for a few minutes. When the mixture has become a gel, use it to replace 1 egg.

Find more chia seed recipes here.

Chia seeds are generally safe to consume. Some people may have a chia seed allergy, but it is not common.

A 2019 study notes that chia seeds have structural similarities with other foods that people can be allergic to, such as sesame seeds and hazelnuts. For some, this may lead to cross-sensitization. However, it is unclear how many people are affected by this.

Anyone who experiences new symptoms after eating chia seeds should stop consuming them and speak with a doctor.

Chia, flax, and basil seeds have similar nutritional profiles, and all can be part of a balanced diet.

Flax seeds generally contain more calories, protein, and fat than basil and chia seeds. Chia and flax seeds are particularly high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Chia seeds contain more fiber than basil or flax seeds.

The nutrient content of 100 g of flax, basil, and chia seeds is as follows:

Flax seedsBasil seedsChia seeds
Calories534 kcal442 kcal486 kcal
Carbohydrates28.9 g63.8 g42.1 g
Fiber27.3 g22.6 g34.4 g
Protein18.3 g14.8 g16.5 g
Fat42.2 g13.8 g30.7 g

Chia seeds are nutritious and can be part of a balanced diet. They are high in fiber and PUFAs, which are important for health. Some research suggests that chia seeds may help lower triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol, and increase HDL cholesterol. More research on this is necessary to confirm the effects.

People can add uncooked chia seeds to a range of foods, such as yogurt, smoothies, and cereal. It is also possible to use chia seeds as a replacement for eggs in baking. People can find many recipes that incorporate chia seeds online.