Chia Pudding

Chia Seeds: Ancient Food and Social Media Fad

Here we go again. Chia seeds are back for another round of faddish popularity. This ancient grain popped up on TikTok recently – attached to an #InternalShower hashtag. It’s promoting chia seeds mixed with water and lemon for a supposedly cleansing experience. To be clear, we’re not fans of any kind of “cleansing” dietary experience. In fact, the National Capital Poison Center warns that although these seeds have real nutrition benefits, they’ve also seen adverse effects from ill-advised ways of consuming them:

“A 39-year-old man developed abdominal pain and difficulty swallowing, immediately after eating a tablespoon of chia seeds and drinking a glass of water. He went to a hospital twelve hours later and was treated with medications to relax his esophagus. When that did not work, he underwent an endoscopy procedure that showed that his esophagus was completely obstructed with gelled chia seeds. Doctors were able to push the impacted chia seeds into his stomach to relieve his symptoms.”

That fits our definition of no fun.

Real Nutrition Credibility

Setting aside the stupidity of pursuing an “internal shower,” chia does have some real nutrition merit. Registered dietitian Beth Czerwony tells us that they’re full of fiber, rich in antioxidants, and packed with protein. In case you haven’t noticed, plant-based proteins are getting good press because of environmental goals. They also have a rather high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which have a bit of a heart health halo.

So the attention that chia seeds are getting is not all bad. They can be a very useful and healthy ingredient for puddings, baked foods, and other recipes. Their flavor is not especially distinctive, but they can add to the texture of your food because of all the fiber they deliver.

But for showers, stick with soap and water – external, not internal.

Click here for a dietitian’s perspective on the internal shower concept. For more on the nutritional value of chia, click here, here, and here.

Chia Pudding, photograph by Guillem Carrasco, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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August 29, 2022

2 Responses to “Chia Seeds: Ancient Food and Social Media Fad”

  1. August 29, 2022 at 11:52 am, Christine Rosenbloom said:

    Thanks for this….my 11 year old nephew is a TikTok fanatic and he recently told me he is “obsessed” with chia seeds. Now I know why!

    • August 29, 2022 at 2:08 pm, Ted said:

      Social media, RDN.