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Why Do Chia Seeds Gel 2024? 7 Benefits Of Soaked Chia & How To Use

why do chia seeds gel
Soaking chia seeds turns them into a nutritious gel. Photo: Phuong Thanh

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Chia seeds are a versatile, nutritious food, loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients. Chia seeds and chia seed gel are staples of many dietary eating approaches, including ketogenic, veganism, and vegetarianism.

Chia seeds are on the keto diet foods list and vegans often use chia seeds or chia seed gel to add non-animal protein, carbs, and non-animal fat to their diets. For additional protein support on a keto diet, consider the best keto protein powders.

Chia seeds form a gel whenever they are mixed in liquid, whether it is water, milk, or another beverage. This article will explain why chia seeds form a gel, how to make chia seed gel at home, and some of the nutritional benefits of including chia seed gel in your daily diet.

Why Do Chia Seeds Gel?

Why do chia seeds gel up? When mixed with water, juice, or milk, the soluble fiber in the chia seeds absorbs up to ten times its weight in liquid. As a result, a gelatinous consistency emerges, which can be consumed as a thick drink (similar to a smoothie) or eaten as a pudding.

7 Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds Gel

Why do chia seeds gel
Chia seed gel can have more benefits than raw chia seeds. Photo: lgabriela/Shutterstock

Chia seeds have numerous health benefits, and chia seed gel, by extension, carries many of those same benefits, if not more. It is also helpful to know some of the side effects of chia seeds, most of which come down to improper preparation. Many side effects can be avoided by grinding or soaking chia seeds before consumption. Now, let’s explore some of the benefits.

Removes Negative Properties

Soaking chia seeds in water can help remove or break down some of the negative properties of chia seeds, particularly phytic acid. Phytic acid is a natural plant compound that protects the plants from being eaten by bugs (which is great for the plant), however, it can make nutrient absorption a little more challenging. When chia seeds are soaked, some of the phytic acid is removed, making the nutrients more available to us.

Digestive Support 

Chia seeds are one of the best foods to help relieve constipation, largely due to their high fiber content. Fiber helps keep the bowels regular by pulling water from the intestines and cleaning out the digestive system. When chia seeds are soaked and become a gel-like consistency, they are even easier to digest, having an extra soothing effect on the GI tract.

Nutrient Dense

An ounce of chia seeds (2.5 tbsp) is packed with nutrition including roughly 8 grams of fat, 13 grams of carbohydrates, almost 6 grams of protein, and 11 grams of fiber. Eating Chia seeds also comes with essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium, to name a few. When chia seeds are soaked, more of these essential nutrients can enter and be utilized by the body. 

Heart Health

Chia seeds can help protect the heart in a few ways. Chia seeds come loaded with a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which together can help reduce inflammation often associated with heart disease. The soluble fiber in chia seeds also works for heart health by lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.[1]

Blood Sugar Regulation

Fiber is found in high quantities in chia seeds, and fiber, among its many uses, stabilizes blood sugar. It does this by slowing down the rate at which sugar enters our bloodstream. This helps prevent sharp spikes and steep drops in blood sugar, and instead, stabilizes it for longer periods. This means decreased inflammation, balanced hormones, reduced risk for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, and reduced food cravings.

Weight Management 

Because chia seeds contain a lot of fiber, and that fiber helps stabilize blood sugar, chia seeds can aid in weight loss and weight management. Stable blood sugar gives us fewer cravings and less desire for snacking. Fiber stabilizes blood sugar and increases satiety, which means less hunger. Adding chia seeds to water or milk can increase these effects, making chia seed gel an ideal addition to a weight loss diet. 

Hydration  

One thing that chia seed gel has over raw chia seeds is hydration. Combining chia seeds with water gives the added benefit of hydration to go with the fiber. To get the most out of chia seed gel for hydration, use filtered water, rather than tap water, or choose a minimally processed, sugar-free milk if you prefer milk.

Why Soak Chia Seeds In Water?

Soaking chia seeds in water has particular health benefits. The water softens the seeds, making them easier to digest, and creates a soothing effect inside the gastrointestinal tract. Having the chia seeds already soaked and in gel form also prevents the seeds from clumping together inside the body later.

Additionally, adding chia seeds to water kills two birds with one stone: you increase the hydration along with the fiber. Too much fiber alone can cause constipation, whereas including more water with fiber[2] is what keeps things moving.

Soaking chia seeds in water also helps to unleash the nutritional benefits of the seeds. The soaking process helps break down the seeds’ coating, making the nutrients more bioavailable to us.

How Long Do Soaked Chia Seeds Last?

Soaked chia seeds typically last for a few days when stored in a refrigerator. It is best to store chia seed gel in the fridge soon after mixing the chia seeds with the liquid. If you don’t anticipate eating a lot of chia seed gel over a few days, only make small amounts at a time.

How To Make Chia Gel?

Making chia seed gel is simple:

  • Combine chia seeds with a liquid of your choice (water, milk, juice, coconut water, etc.) in a bowl, jar, or cup. You need roughly three times as much liquid as chia seeds (for example, one tablespoon of seeds and three tablespoons of liquid).
  • Mix to remove clumps, then let sit for a few minutes. Mix again (you may need to mix several times to remove clumps while the gel is forming). If you use a jar or bottle with a lid, then you can put the lid on it and shake instead of stirring with a spoon.
  • Check consistency and adjust – add more seeds if you want a thicker gel, or add more liquid if you want it thinner. No need for exact measurements, just eyeball it.
  • In about 15-20 minutes, the gel will be formed. Enjoy as is, add to other foods, or store in the fridge for later. Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to three days. 

Other Ways To Eat Chia Seeds

Chia seed gel is only one way to enjoy chia seeds. Here are some other ideas:

  • Sprinkle chia seeds into cereal, oatmeal, salads, and smoothies.
  • Add chia seeds to baked goods, like bread, cakes, and muffins.
  • Mix chia seeds with milk, maple syrup, fruit, and nuts for chia seed pudding.
  • Add chia seeds to the trail mix with other seeds and nuts.
  • Use as a topping to almost any food.
  • Add to stir-fries. 
  • Grind chia seeds and sprinkle them into baked goods or other foods.
  • Use ground chia seeds as a thickener or egg replacement.
  • Add to jam. 
  • Add to pancakes.
  • Bake into crackers.

Discover more ideas in our guide on how to eat chia seeds!

Conclusion

Chia seeds are packed with nutritional benefits,[3] and their mild flavor makes them easy to add to just about anything, especially liquid. When this happens, they form a gel. Why do chia seeds form a gel? When added to liquid, whether milk, water, or juice, the fiber in chia seeds absorbs the liquid.

When you are consuming chia seeds to a liquid, in as little as fifteen minutes, you can enjoy a soft texture pudding or smoothie-like consistency drink. The soaking process helps to unlock some of the nutritional benefits, while also making the chia seeds easier to digest.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I don’t soak chia seeds, will I still get the nutritional benefits?

Yes, many benefits can be had from raw chia seeds, however, soaking them does help make some nutrients more bioavailable.

Why is soaking chia seeds better than eating them raw?

Soaking them is not a better way to eat them, just a different way. Some people prefer the added hydration and the smooth texture. But if that doesn’t appeal to you, raw is fine too.

Can I have chia seed gel daily?

Yes, just don’t have more than two tablespoons worth of seeds daily, as this may be difficult for some people to tolerate. Small amounts every day, however, are fine.

+ 3 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Anti, M., Pignataro, G., Alessandro Armuzzi and G Gasbarrini (1998). Water supplementation enhances the effect of high-fiber diet on stool frequency and laxative consumption… [online] ResearchGate. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/13601287_Water_supplementation_enhances_the_effect_of_high-fiber_diet_on_stool_frequency_and_laxative_consumption_in_adult_patients_with_functional_constipation.
  2. McRae, M.P. (2017). Dietary Fiber Is Beneficial for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses. [online] 16(4), pp.289–299. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2017.05.005.
  3. Bartosz Kulczyński, Kobus-Cisowska, J., M. Taczanowski, Kmiecik, D. and Gramza-Michałowska, A. (2019). The Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds—Current State of Knowledge. Nutrients, [online] 11(6), pp.1242–1242. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11061242.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A health coach specializing in Integrative Nutrition, I approach wellness with a holistic and functional medicine perspective. As a writer, I simplify intricate topics such as nutrition, gut and hormone health, mental well-being, and spiritual health,… See More