Chia seeds are a wonderful and healthy superfood to incorporate into your diet. Our family eats them every single morning with our breakfast.
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!
Table of Contents
- Do You Have to Soak Chia Seeds?
- Is it Okay to Eat Chia Seeds Without Soaking?
- Why Soak Chia Seeds?
- How Long Should I Soak Chia Seeds?
- How Do You Prepare Chia Seeds to Eat?
- Should You Soak Chia Seeds Before Putting Them in a Smoothie?
- Can You Eat Dry Chia Seeds in Yogurt?
- Other Answers About Chia Seeds
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. (See all the Benefits of Chia Seeds here) When you buy whole chia seeds, you usually get them dry and raw. (Although now you can find ground chia seeds)
You will still get some of the nutritional benefits from eating them raw. This includes the 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. (For some more ways to get plant-based Omega-3s, see How I Get My Plant-Based Omega-3 Fatty Acids!)
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 here)
Is it Okay to Eat Chia Seeds Without Soaking?
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 to soak them. 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.
In the above 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%.
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 Chia Seeds – Which is Better?
Chia Seeds Soaked in Water Overnight 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).
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.
(You can learn about all the benefits of chia seeds here)
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 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 Do You Need to Soak Chia Seeds?
You can see from the previous 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. Chia seeds need to soak at least a couple of hours in yogurt, and preferably overnight.
How Long to Soak Chia Seeds in Milk?
The amount of time to soak chia seeds in milk is the same as soaking them in water. You could do it in as little as 15-30 minutes, but for best results wait at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
How Do You Prepare Chia Seeds to Eat?
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.
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 each method next.
Can I Soak Chia Seeds Overnight?
You can soak chia seeds overnight and this is the best way to soak them. By soaking them overnight, you give them adequate time to fully soak and absorb all the water. Otherwise, after only a couple of hours of soaking, there are usually some clumps still left.
How to Soak Chia Seeds Overnight
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 Overnight)
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.
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.
Can You Soak Chia Seeds in Milk?
Chia seeds can be soaked in milk instead of water. (Chia pudding uses this method) We prefer to use a plant-based milk and any kind of plant-based or regular milk will work.
Do You Have to Grind Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds do not need to be ground. But studies seem to indicate an increase in benefits if you do grind them. (Learn more at Ground Chia Seeds vs. Whole)
The idea that chia seeds must be ground might come from the idea of flax seeds needing to be ground. Flax seeds have a hard outer shell and are hard for the body to digest, but this isn’t the case with chia seeds.
A more recent study found that chia seeds that were ground, increased the uptake of antioxidants and nutrients compared to whole chia seeds or sprouted (soaked) chia seeds.
You will still get the fiber from chia seeds that are not ground, but if you want maximum uptake of nutrients, then consider grinding your chia seeds.
Chia Seed Pudding
Chia Seed Pudding is basically chia seeds mixed in plant-based milk, with usually honey or maple syrup added. You can add other flavors from there as well, such as strawberries or chocolate, depending on what flavor pudding you like.
Here’s a simple 2 ingredient chia seed pudding.
Or, here’s a chia seed pudding recipe with a couple more ingredients.
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 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.
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.
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.
Other Answers About Chia Seeds
How to Eat Chia Seeds for Weight Loss
Chia seeds can be eaten to help with weight loss. This is because they have tons of fiber, which can make you feel fuller. Also, fiber increases the amount of calories your body uses just in the digestion process. So because of this, they can be excellent for weight loss.
I have a post on losing weight with chia seeds in which I go more in-depth into the reason chia seeds help you lose weight, as well as different ways to eat chia seeds in order to lose weight. You can find that article at How to Eat Chia Seeds for Weight Loss.
I think it’s usually best to eat chia seeds with water in the morning with your breakfast. Chia seed gel can be easily added to oatmeal dishes or to overnight oats. (See My Healthy Whole Food Plant-Based (& Vegan) Breakfast Oatmeal Bowl)
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?
I do not recommend boiling chia seeds or putting them in boiling water. The heat might degrade the nutrients. Learn more about this at Can You Boil Chia Seeds? Here’s Why I Wouldn’t (in Oatmeal or 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?)
What Do Chia Seeds Taste Like?
Chia seeds really have no taste to them and do not taste much like anything. See more at What Do Chia Seeds Taste Like?