How to Soak Chia Seeds: The Process, Time, & What You Need

Written by Krista Bugden
Medically Reviewed by Felicia Newell, RD

September 5, 2023

Over 3,000 years ago, Mayan and Aztec warriors relied on chia seeds as a crucial source of fuel. They were often the only food they brought on long journeys, since they were small, nutritionally dense, and could be eaten on the run. These seeds were even considered so valuable that they had set tributes and ceremonies to honor them.

Today, chia seeds have earned the status of a superfood, enjoying a prominent place in our smoothies, yogurt bowls, and more. Their popularity stems not only from their impressive nutritional composition but also from the unique gel-like texture they acquire when soaked. This process not only enhances their digestibility but also adds a satisfying thickness to various recipes.

Whether you're new to chia seeds or simply curious about the soaking process, this article will guide you step-by-step on how to soak chia seeds. That way, you can harness their full potential.

What Are Chia Seeds?

Close up of the Salvia hispanica flower growing

The chia seed is the edible seed from the flowering plant called Salvia hispanica. It’s small and black, and frequently added to yogurt, smoothies, salads, soups, puddings, and more. 

Domesticated in the valley of Mexico as early as 2,700 B.C., chia seeds served as a primary staple food of the Aztec, Mayan, Incan, and other indigenous peoples. In particular, the Mayan and Aztec civilizations in Mexico used these seeds as food, religious offerings, skin ointments, medicine, and even currency (1). In fact, the Mayan word for chia seeds is “chiabaan,” which means “strengthening.”

What’s the Nutritional Profile of Chia Seeds?

A 1-ounce (or 2.5 tablespoon) serving of chia seeds contains (2):

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Tiramisu Chia Collagen Pudding in a small mason jar with a spoon sticking out of it

Tiramisu Chia Collagen Pudding

Indulge in a healthier version of tiramisu. Packed with nutritious ingredients like chia, collagen dairy-free yogurt, it's a sweet and creamy treat with a hint of coffee and cocoa.

Get The Recipe

How Do I Soak Chia Seeds?

You may be wondering why you need to soak chia seeds in the first place. Well, the soaking process might help improve the digestion and absorption of the nutrients in these seeds by softening the hard outer shell and creating a gel-like substance that can help keep you full for hours afterward.

Once soaked, chia seeds can easily be added to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, and more.

Here’s how to soak them:

  • Chia seeds can be soaked in milk or water, with most people recommending water. If using water, use a 1:10 ratio of seeds to water. Usually, this means using about one and a half tablespoons of chia seeds per one cup of water. However you can play around with the ratio depending on the texture you want your seeds to be. 
  • Let the seeds sit in the water (or milk) for about 30 minutes to two hours. If you’re using milk, make sure you place it in the fridge so that the milk doesn’t sour.
  • Once done soaking, the chia seeds can be enjoyed for up to five days (just be sure to refrigerate them). You’ll know your chia seeds are done soaking when they take on a texture similar to tapioca pudding.

How Long Should I Soak Chia Seeds?

When soaking chia seeds, we’re aiming to achieve that gel-like texture. This indicates that the shell has softened. As such, the chia seeds should sit in water for at least 20 to 30 minutes. However, you can leave them for up to two hours.

How Can I Incorporate Chia Seeds Into My Diet?

A bag of chia seeds usually lasts four to five years in the pantry when stored correctly. This means they can be enjoyed in various recipes, such as:

You can also add them to a smoothie or your favorite yogurt combination for more protein, fiber, and nutrients.

Tiramisu Chia Collagen Pudding in a small mason jar with a spoon sticking out of it

Tiramisu Chia Collagen Pudding

Indulge in a healthier version of tiramisu. Packed with nutritious ingredients like chia, collagen dairy-free yogurt, it's a sweet and creamy treat with a hint of coffee and cocoa.

Get The Recipe

What Are the Health Benefits of Chia Seeds?

Packed full of fiber, protein, B vitamins, antioxidants, and plenty of trace vitamins and minerals, it’s no wonder why chia seeds are considered a superfood (2, 3). So, how can these incredible seeds improve your health? Here are seven ways…

1. Supports Bone Health

Chia seeds provide calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein, all of which are vital for bone health. In fact, various studies indicate the importance of these minerals for strong and resilient bones (4).

One study further showed how when rats were given chia seeds every day for 13 months, they had increased mineral bone content (5). While more studies are needed, this is a promising start for chia seeds when it comes to maintaining healthy and strong bones.

2. Aids in Weight Loss

Due to their high fiber and protein content, chia seeds may help reduce appetite and increase fullness. In turn, this may lead to reduced calorie intake, which is necessary for weight loss. 

Interestingly, one research study demonstrated how chia seeds in yogurt versus chia seed-free yogurt led to short-term decreased food intake and increased feelings of satiety (6). 

At the same time, for healthy weight loss to take place, it’s important to remember that you can’t simply rely on one pill or food (like chia seeds). It often takes a holistic approach where various lifestyle, dietary, and exercise habits are changed over time.

3. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels

The fiber and alpha-linolenic acid in chia seeds may help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of insulin resistance

In fact, many animal studies have shown the power of chia seeds when it comes to lowering blood sugar levels (7). While more research is needed, the initial studies are promising.

4. Promotes Better Heart Health

Omega-3s, fiber, and other compounds in chia seeds may contribute to a healthier cardiovascular system by reducing cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation.

In particular, the soluble fiber in chia seeds is associated with reduced “bad” cholesterol (8). Other research has further demonstrated how chia seeds may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease (9).

5. Improves Skin Health

With many antioxidants, omega-3s, and other nutrients, it probably comes as no surprise that chia seeds might help promote healthier, younger, and more radiant-looking skin. However, many studies seem to focus on the topical application, indicating a need for more research regarding skin health and oral consumption of chia seeds.

Yet, these topical studies have shown how chia seeds may help improve hydration and the action of the skin barrier (10). In turn, this may contribute to healthier skin and a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.

6. Helps Maintain Hydration

When soaked in water, chia seeds form a gel-like substance. This property may aid in hydration, making them a favorite for athletes and those in hot climates. However, again, more studies are needed to fully solidify these claims.

7. Reduces Inflammation

Chia seeds contain an incredibly powerful antioxidant called caffeic acid. This antioxidant is well-known for its anti-inflammatory effects, which may support your health in various ways (11). 

For instance, lower inflammation may reduce your risk of the development of chronic diseases, like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more.

Tiramisu Chia Collagen Pudding in a small mason jar with a spoon sticking out of it

Tiramisu Chia Collagen Pudding

Indulge in a healthier version of tiramisu. Packed with nutritious ingredients like chia, collagen dairy-free yogurt, it's a sweet and creamy treat with a hint of coffee and cocoa.

Get The Recipe
Krista Bugden
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Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden is a freelance writer with a BS in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa. She spent 5 years working as a kinesiologist, giving her the first-hand experience she needed to write well-researched, scientific, and informative blogs.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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