Chia Seed Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/12/22 •  8 min read
chia seed benefits and side effects

Health

Chia seed health benefits may include:

Chia seeds are…

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Environment

Water footprint: low, chia is a low-maintenance crop that prefers moderately fertile, well-drained soils, while moisture is necessary for seedling establishment, this crop is highly intolerant of wet soils, chia seeds have a relatively low water footprint

Carbon footprint: unknown, far away transit can be a major factor when calculating carbon footprints, currently chia is grown and consumed commercially in Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Northwest Argentina, parts of Australia and the southwestern United States

Destruction: low, chia seed production is relatively sustainable, there is no significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. *as long as pesticides have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Chia seeds are…

Animals

Kills: none, chia seed production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, chia seed production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from chia seed production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Chia seeds are…

Laborers

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Chia seeds…

Where do most chia seeds come from?

The world’s top chia seed exporting country is China, followed by Canada, Germany, Paraguay, Austria, Spain, Netherlands, India, USA, Mexico.

About 80% of the world’s chia seeds are produced in Latin American countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru.

Are chia seeds nutritious?

Yes! Chia seeds are full of important nutrients, an excellent source of Polyunsaturated fat, as omega-3 fatty acids, Fiber, Protein, Calcium, Phosphorus, Zinc.

chia seeds are likely alkaline.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Are chia seeds alkaline or acidic?

Chia seeds are likely alkaline.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

chia seeds are gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Are chia seeds gluten free?

Yes, chia seeds are naturally gluten free. Chia seeds do not contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

chia seeds are not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Are chia seeds a common food allergen?

No, chia seeds are not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to chia seeds but it is relatively rare.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

chia seeds have a low water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Do chia seeds have a high or low water footprint? Chia seeds have a low water footprint.

Chia is a low-maintenance crop that prefers moderately fertile, well-drained soils. While moisture is necessary for seedling establishment, this crop is highly intolerant of wet soils.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

chia seeds are sustainable.

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Overall, are chia seeds eco friendly? Are chia seeds sustainable?

Chia seed production is relatively sustainable. There is no known significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. as long as pesticides have not been used. Be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

chia seeds are vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Are chia seeds vegan?

Yes, chia seeds are vegan. Chia seeds are seeds from a flowering plant and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

chia seeds are a product that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Are chia seeds a product that has labor issues?

At this time, there are no specific reports of worker mistreatment regarding chia seed farming but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Chia seeds may or may not have labor issues.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even be subjected to harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks.

Such mistreatment has been likened to modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.

Sources:

Harvard, The Nutrition Source, Chia Seeds

Seeds, chia seeds, dried – FoodData Central – USDA

What Are Chia Seeds? | HealthySD.gov

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.