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6 Easy Ways To Use Chia Seeds At Home (Your Gut Will Thank You)

Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD
June 29, 2023
Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD
Registered dietitian
By Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD
Registered dietitian
Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and writer based in San Francisco. She holds a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and an undergraduate degree in Dietetics.
June 29, 2023
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Once considered a staple ingredient in the diets of ancient Aztec warriors, chia seeds have long been revered for their many health benefits. Today, chia seeds are still widely considered a superfood and are known for both their nutritional value and versatility. We reached out to chefs and dietitians for some tips on how to use chia seeds, plus everything you need to know when preparing them at home.

Chia seeds nutritional value 

Though chia seeds might be small, they bring some pretty big health benefits to the table.

Beyond boasting a hearty dose of fiber1, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium in each serving, chia seeds are often used to keep your skin, heart, and gut healthy. They’re also chock full of antioxidants2, which may offer protection against conditions like diabetes and cancer.

Thanks to their stellar nutritional value, chia seeds have even become a trending topic on social media. In fact, chia seeds take center stage in TikTok’s buzzworthy new beverage, the “internal shower drink,” a cocktail of water, two tablespoons of chia seeds and a spritz of lemon juice which claims to help flush out your digestive system.

So do the gut-boosting benefits of this chia seed concoction actually live up to the hype? “Sometimes it’s just easier to drink your fiber than eat it, so sprinkling chia seeds into your water is an easy gut health hack,” says Amanda Sauceda, MS, RDN, a dietitian that specializes in digestive health.

“The problem with the internal shower is that this shouldn’t be your sole source of fiber,” Sauceda tells mindbodygreen. She explains that enjoying a variety of fiber-rich foods is a better bet, noting that chowing down on too many chia seeds at a time can overload your digestive system.

How to work with chia seeds in the kitchen

One of the biggest questions people have about using chia seeds is if you can eat them raw.

According to plant-based chef Bailey Ruskus, you should definitely be soaking chia seeds before eating them. “Because they absorb liquid so quickly, you’ll want them to absorb water before you ingest to avoid any stomach upset,” says Ruskus. Ideally, mix chia seeds with liquid in a 1:3 ratio and aim to let them soak for at least 20-30 minutes before eating to prevent digestive distress.

Ruskus also recommends storing your chia seeds in a glass container and keeping them in a cool, dark place to help maximize their shelf-life and get the most bang for your buck. “You can often buy them in bulk, so I always transfer to an airtight glass jar when I get home from the store,” she says.

However, keep in mind that a small amount of chia seeds can go a long way, so be sure not to overdo it. “Too much chia can have the opposite effect of what you’re looking for and actually back you up,” says Sauceda, explaining that this can lead to constipation, especially if you're not drinking enough water or increase your intake too quickly.

While there's no hard and fast rule about how much you should eat, sticking to around 2 tablespoons per day is a solid place to start. Eating them in the morning might also be a good idea to help rev up your digestive system early in the day.


When cooking with chia seeds at home, store them in a cool, dark cabinet or in the fridge. When you're ready to use them, mix chia seeds with liquid in a 1:3 ratio and aim to let them soak for at least 20-30 minutes. Soaking your seeds beforehand will help reduce the risk of stomach upset. Use chia seeds in moderation and don't eat more than around 2 tablespoons a day.

Ways to use chia seeds 

Not only are chia seeds incredibly nutritious, but they're also versatile and easy to enjoy in a wide range of recipes. Here are a few tasty ways to start adding chia seeds to your regular rotation.


Whip up some chia seed jam

Chia seed jam is great slathered on toast, mixed into yogurt, or even paired with some cheese and crackers. According to Sauceda, this recipe is also pretty forgiving, making it a great option if you're not super confident in the kitchen. Plus, you can easily tailor it to your taste buds by swapping in any types of berries.

Chia seed jam:

Hand Pouring Jam From Pan In Can
Image by Martí Sans / Stocksy


  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1-2 tablespoons chia seeds


  1. Add berries to a saucepan and let it cook on medium heat for a few minutes, or until the berries start to break down and release their juices.
  2. Turn off the heat and stir in 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds.
  3. Let it thicken a bit before you serve and enjoy.

Make chia seed pudding

Chia seed pudding is a delicious dessert that requires just a few simple ingredients. It's also easy to customize based on your personal preferences. If you're feeling creative, Ruskus notes you can even combine chia pudding with thick smoothies or overnight oats for a protein-packed breakfast or snack. Here are some more chia pudding recipes to try.

Basic chia pudding:

Image by Nataša Mandić / Stocksy


  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • ½ tablespoon maple syrup
  • Toppings, such as fresh berries, bananas, nut butter, or spices


  1. Combine chia seeds, maple syrup, and almond milk in a jar and mix.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  3. Add your choice of toppings and serve cold.

Add chia seeds to overnight oats

Overnight oats are one of Sauceda’s favorite ways to use chia seeds. Chia overnight oats also make a great customizable, grab-and-go breakfast, which is perfect for busy mornings. Sauceda recommends adding extra liquid if you prefer a thinner consistency, as the chia seeds can thicken up the oats pretty quickly. You can also add collagen to your chia oats for even more protein.

Chia-packed overnight oats:

Image by Pixel Stories / Stocksy


  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Your choice of mix-ins, such as diced fruit, peanut butter, cinnamon, chocolate chips, or nuts


  1. Add ingredients to a glass jar and stir to combine.
  2. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 2 hours.
  3. Stir and add more milk if needed before eating.

Use chia seeds as a vegan egg substitute

Chia seeds can be an easy egg stand-in in a pinch, thanks to their ability to act as a natural binder and help hold other ingredients together. According to Ruskus, chia seeds can be used as a substitute for eggs in virtually any baked recipe. She notes that she grinds up the chia seeds in a dry blender beforehand, which can improve the texture and boost their digestibility3.

A note on protein:

Chia seeds pack less protein per serving than eggs, so plant-based eaters will want to pair them with other protein sources to meet daily requirements.

Chia "egg":


  • 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
  • 2 ½ tablespoons water


  1. Mix ground chia seeds with water and let it set for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Use as a replacement for one egg in baked recipes.

Sprinkle chia seeds into your smoothie

Chia seeds can easily elevate your smoothie game, adding extra fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fats to every sip. Feel free to mix and match your favorite ingredients to find what works for you and consider adding in a serving of protein powder to dial up the benefits.

Strawberry banana chia smoothie:

Image by Sebastian Coman Photography / Pexels


  • 1 cup strawberries
  • ½ banana
  • ½ cup oat milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 scoop protein powder (optional)


  1. Add ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a glass and serve.

Enjoy a refreshing glass of lemon chia water

Though it's only recently started trending on TikTok, lemon chia water has long been a morning staple for many. "This really helps settle my stomach to break my fast and gives me instant energy," says Ruskus. Be sure to give your glass a good shake before you sip, as the chia seeds tend to fall to the bottom of your cup.

Lemon chia water:


  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Add ingredients to a glass or mason jar and stir to combine.
  2. Let the chia seeds soak for at least 20 minutes before drinking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need to soak chia seeds before eating?

As a general rule of thumb, it's best to soak chia seeds for at least 20 minutes before eating. According to Ruskus, letting them absorb plenty of water first can help sidestep issues like stomach upset.

How many chia seeds should you eat a day?

Aiming for around 1-2 tablespoons per day can help you enjoy the potential benefits of chia seeds without going overboard. Be sure to pair with a variety of other high-fiber foods in your diet, such as nuts, whole grains, legumes, and other seeds, like flax seeds or sunflower seeds.

Are there any chia seed downsides?

Although chia seeds are well-known for their ability to enhance gut health, Sauceda points out that eating too many can actually slow down digestion and contribute to constipation. "Any time you add fiber foods to your diet, you also want to add small amounts gradually so that your gut can get used to it," she says.

The takeaway

Despite their small size, chia seeds pack in some impressive health perks. Plus, they're super versatile, and there are plenty of options for how to use chia seeds in your daily diet. From chia pudding to lemon chia water, these easy recipes will help you get the hang of using them in your healthy home cooking.

Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD author page.
Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD
Registered dietitian

Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and writer based in San Francisco. She holds a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and an undergraduate degree in Dietetics.

Rachael works as a freelance writer and editor for several health and wellness publications. She is passionate about sharing evidence-based information on nutrition and health and breaking down complex topics into content that is engaging and easy to understand.

When she's not writing, Rachael enjoys experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, reading, gardening, and spending time with her husband and dogs.