Do You Need to Soak Chia Seeds Before Eating?

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Soaked chia seeds
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Chia seeds are a wonderful and healthy superfood to incorporate into your diet.  Our family eats them every single morning with our breakfast. (We recommend the chia seeds at iHerb here. They are high-quality and very low-cost)

They are honestly, one of the healthiest foods you can eat, and a reason they are called a superfood!  They are packed with antioxidants and tons of fiber. (You can learn more about chia seeds at The Chia Seeds Ultimate Guide!)

Chia seeds come in dry form, but it is very popular to soak them in water first before eating.  This might leave some people wondering, Do you need to soak chia seeds before eating?

In this post, you’ll learn if you need to soak chia seeds, why you might want to, the benefits of soaking chia seeds, how to soak chia seeds, as well as answers to some other common questions.

Let’s dive in!

Do You Have to Soak Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds don’t have to be soaked, but it increases their nutrient absorption by the body, and also can make them easier to eat. Another option if you don’t want to soak chia seeds, but want maximum nutrient absorption, would be to grind them.

Chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition and are wonderful for you to eat.  When you buy whole chia seeds, you usually get them dry and raw. (Although now you can find ground chia seeds. For raw chia seeds I recommend these chia seeds at iHerb here, they are organic and very affordable)

Should You Soak Chia Seeds Before Eating?
Should You Soak Chia Seeds Before Eating?

You will still get some of the nutritional benefits from eating them raw.  This includes a high amount of fiber, as well as protein and antioxidants, all of which are great for our health.

But, studies are showing that there might be increased benefits to soaking chia seeds or grinding them. (See Ground Chia Seeds vs. Whole – Which is Better?)

Particularly, some studies have shown that the Omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) in chia seeds might be absorbed much better (as well as some of the protein) after they have been ground or soaked first. One study even showed no change in blood ALA levels from eating raw chia seeds.

But for those who were eating chia seeds that had been ground, ALA levels in the blood increased dramatically. EPA levels increased as well. Meaning the ALAs were being converted to EPA, which is good.

The second highest levels of ALA were seen in those who were eating chia seeds that had been soaked. So there were benefits to both soaking chia seeds and grinding them, with the ground chia seeds being a little bit better.

Soaking or grinding might also increase the nutrient uptake of some of the antioxidants or minerals. This is because seeds in nature usually are hard and have a protective barrier which makes digestion difficult. Just like with flax seeds, grinding them first might break this tough barrier down. Soaking may work in the same way and might also release the phytic acid that the seeds might have.

(You can learn How to Soak Chia Seeds)

Is it Okay to Eat Chia Seeds Without Soaking?

Raw Chia Seeds
Raw chia seeds are still great for you

Just like eating nuts or any other kind of seed, it is ok to eat chia seeds without soaking them first.  But as we previously discussed, there are more health benefits to grinding or soaking chia seeds first, since the body will absorb more of the nutrients, and possibly even protein.

So, it is ok to eat chia seeds without soaking them first.  But you might want to choose soaking chia seeds in water instead.  That’s how we used to eat them a majority of the time. Now we have switched to grinding them, but I think both methods are great!

Why Soak Chia Seeds?

One downside to eating dry chia seeds is only that they are a little harder to eat.  The dry chia seeds tend to get stuck in your teeth and can leave a slightly unpleasant feeling. 

The reason for this is that chia seeds absorb up to 19 times their weight in water.  So, they tend to stick between your teeth and to your gums right after they touch the wet surface in your mouth and begin to absorb the water around them.

Another benefit is that soaked chia seeds will be digested easier in your system. This will increase the amount of nutrients that your body can absorb from them.

Best Way to Eat Chia Seeds

In the following video, a study found that ALA and EPA levels in the body were highest when consuming ground chia seeds, compared to raw or whole chia seeds. ALA levels increased by 58% and EPA levels by 39%.

Whole, soaked or ground chia seeds. Which are best?

The second-highest increase in ALA and EPA was found in soaked chia seeds compared to raw. These ALA levels were 24% higher in this study when eating soaked chia seeds.

So we see that there is a benefit to eating soaked chia seeds, at least for ALA levels. The greatest benefits, however, may come from grinding chia seeds.

I’ve actually even found that grinding chia seeds is slightly easier than soaking them. You can learn more at Ground Chia Seeds vs. Whole.

(For different ways to eat chia seeds, see Uses for Chia Seeds)

Soaking Chia Seeds Benefits

When you soak the chia seeds first, it creates a gel-like substance.  This gel-like substance is easier to absorb in the body is easier to eat and will no longer stick to your teeth when you are eating them.  (Since they’ve already absorbed water).

Soaked Chia Seeds in Glass
Soaking chia seeds has additional benefits

One benefit that comes from soaking chia seeds, is that they are better absorbed in the body.  The idea is that just like with nuts when chia seeds are soaked in water, it helps to begin the sprouting process and also might help to remove phytic acid. Some studies have shown that the Omega-3 fats and protein are better absorbed into the body after soaking chia seeds.

(Learn more: Soaking chia seeds benefits)

Another benefit to soaking chia seeds is that they will hydrate you better.  Since soaked chia seeds have absorbed a lot of water, they carry that water with them into your body, helping to hydrate you better.  It’s been said that eating dry chia seeds, on the other hand, might absorb water from your body in the opposite way.

How To Soak Chia Seeds

Chia seeds don’t have to be prepared ahead of time.  You can eat them raw if you choose.  But as was mentioned previously, studies have shown there are benefits to grinding or soaking chia seeds, because it increases nutrient absorption.

My soaked chia seeds in a cup
My soaked chia seeds in a coffee mug

The most common ways to prepare chia seeds are to soak them, grind them, or make chia pudding. We’ll give a brief overview of soaking chia seeds next.

Soaking Chia Seeds Before Eating

In order to prepare chia seeds by soaking them, here is what I do.

(You can see more details at How to Soak Chia Seeds)

First, I take a big coffee mug or bowl.  I fill it about 1/4 of the way with chia seeds.  Then I fill the bowl up with filtered water until everything reaches the top. 

You can also use almond milk or another plant-based milk instead of water. (See Can You Soak Chia Seeds in Milk?)

How to Soak Chia Seeds Video

Then I will stir the mixture with a spoon and let it sit for about 15 minutes.  Then, I will stir it again one final time and then place it in the fridge.  I’ve also started covering the chia seeds in the fridge, but I didn’t use to, and never had any adverse problems.

The ratio I use is about 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to 4 tablespoons of water.  I’ve seen another ratio of 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to 6 tablespoons of water (1:6).  This would give a less dense consistency.

I recommend experimenting and finding what you like.  Start with the 1:4 ratio, and if you like that, then stick it with it.

Soaking Chia Seeds Overnight

The best way to soak chia seeds is to soak them overnight. Just use the previous method, and allow the chia seeds to sit covered up in the refrigerator overnight.

When you wake up in the morning, they should be ready to eat!

How Long Should I Soak Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds can be soaked in as little as 15 minutes if you are in a hurry.  They will still be slightly clumpy though, and not fully soaked. 

That’s why it is better to let the chia soaks soak for at least a couple of hours.  The best is to soak them overnight in the fridge.  This will allow them the best amount of time to absorb the water fully.

Once they are soaked you will get a chia seed “gel”.  You will start to get that gel as soon as 15 minutes after soaking, but it will still be very clumpy and not as consistent.

See the post How Long to Soak Chia Seeds to learn more.

You can see from the next video that the chia seeds really don’t start to form a consistent gel until at least 45 minutes into the soak.

How Long Should Chia Seeds Soak in Yogurt?

Since yogurt is thicker than water, the chia seeds will need to soak a bit longer. If you want a thick and creamy yogurt, soak the seeds for at least 30 minutes. For a thinner texture, soak for 15 minutes or less. (Learn more at How Long Should Chia Seeds Soak in Yogurt)

However, for them to be ideally soaked, chia seeds should soak at least a couple of hours in yogurt, and preferably overnight.

Should You Soak Chia Seeds Before Putting Them in a Smoothie?

There is no need to soak chia seeds before putting them in a smoothie. You could either soak the chia seeds before adding them to the smoothies, or what would be easier is to add them into the smoothies without first soaking them. This is because the chia seeds will absorb the liquid of the smoothie and will soak once they are added to the smoothie. So you really don’t need to soak them first.

Can You Eat Dry Chia Seeds in Yogurt?

You can mix dry chia seeds into yogurt to eat. One method of eating chia seeds is to allow them to soak in yogurt for over 2-8 hours or overnight. But, if you don’t have time, you can eat the chia seeds mixed in the yogurt before they have had time to soak. (Learn more at Eating Chia Seeds with Yogurt)

The only thing is that soaked chia seeds have better absorption of some of the chia seed nutrients, but you will still get the fiber if they are dry, as well as other minerals and antioxidants.

(Find out more at Can You Eat Dry Chia Seeds in Yogurt?)

What to Do If You Eat Dry Chia Seeds?

Eating dry chia seeds is usually perfectly fine to do. But to be safe, try not to eat too many dry chia seeds at one time. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water and have water or liquid on hand to drink while you are eating dry chia seeds. (Learn more at What To Do if You Eat Dry Chia Seeds?)

Other Answers About Chia Seeds

Can I Soak Chia Seeds in Hot Water?

Chia seeds can be soaked in cold or hot water.  There is no need for the water to be warm or hot first.  Just make sure you are using clean and filtered water that you would normally drink since you will be consuming the water with the chia seeds. See more at Can I Soak Chia Seeds in Hot Water?

How Much Chia Seeds Per Day?

I usually eat around two tablespoons and I think that’s a good number to shoot for.  I would eat at least one tablespoon to get enough of the nutritional benefits. (At the same time, I’m also eating a balanced Whole Food Plant-Based Diet throughout the day, getting much of my other nutrition needs)

You could eat more than two tablespoons, but just bear in mind that chia seeds are very high in fiber.  2.5 tablespoons already contain 37% of your daily fiber intake.  So eating too much of it could be a bad choice if you are not used to eating fiber. (Learn more about what is recommended at How Much Chia Seeds Per Day?)

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See also  Can You Soak Chia Seeds in Milk?

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