You Might Be Eating Chia Seeds Totally Wrong

Chia seeds have been around since the Aztecs and Mayans used them as staples in their diets. Today, you can find these little black seeds in virtually every grocery store across the country. Chia seeds offer a host of health benefits, but should only be eaten in certain ways. Here's how to safely enjoy this superfood.

Let's start with why you should be eating chia seeds in the first place. These seeds are full of nutritional benefits. "Chia seeds are one of my favorite nutritional powerhouses," Brooke Alpert, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., told Byrdie. "They are loaded with tons of micro- and macro-nutrients, including protein, fiber, fat, calcium, manganese, and tons more. They are also a great source of antioxidants. All of this makes them great for weight loss, heart health, and digestive health."

Just one ounce of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, four grams of protein, and only 137 calories. According to Healthline, they are "one of the world's best sources of several important nutrients, calorie for calorie."

Chia seeds should never be eaten dry

Although chia seeds can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, the one thing you should never do is eat them dry. When chia seeds come in contact with water, they absorb a good amount of liquid (up to 27 times their weight) and create a thick, gooey coating. If you eat a spoonful of dry seeds, they can absorb the water in your mouth and throat before getting caught in your esophagus.

"Patients should never consume dry chia seeds," said Dr. Rebecca Rawl, MD, a gastroenterology fellow at Carolinas Medical Center. "They can absorb many times their weight in water and expand and may become lodged in a patient's esophagus, especially if there is a history of swallowing problems."

Fortunately, chia seeds can be safely enjoyed when they are paired with some sort of liquid. If you want to eat them plain, let them soak in a glass of water for a couple of minutes before swallowing. You can also add chia seeds to oatmeal, salads, smoothies, cereal, and more.