Do Chia Seeds Go Bad?

Chia seeds have been proclaimed a superfood because of their range in nutritional benefits. They can be added to virtually any food, and are esteemed in many foods like smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal. Because the seeds are so small and you don’t need much in one serving, you might be wondering if they can expire.

Shelf Life of Chia Seeds

When kept sealed, chia seeds can last for around four to five years. They also must be kept in a cool, dry place and away from heat sources. But thanks to the incredible amount of antioxidants in chia seeds, they can last for a few years.

Different manufacturers may put different expiration dates on their chia seeds. One bag might have an expiration date a year from now, and another could be two or three. Generally, they last longer than this and if they aren’t rancid they are safe to consume.

How Long Do Chia Seeds Last After Opening?

Technically, they do go bad. As mentioned, they have an extremely long shelf life, which can be up to five years. Whether they have been opened or not doesn’t have much of an effect on this, unless they have not been stored properly. 

Most of the time, chia seeds are sold in a resealable bag. If you happen to purchase some that aren’t, another airtight container will do.

One exception is if the chia seeds are an ingredient in something, and not raw chia seeds. For example, flour made out of chia seeds lasts about six months after opening.

How to Tell if Chia Seeds Are Expired

If your chia seeds have gone bad, one of the main signals will be rancidity. Again, thanks to their antioxidants, it takes a while for chia seeds to become rancid. They will go rancid much faster if they have been exposed to sunlight or warm temperatures for long amounts of time.

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Another way to tell if your chia seeds are expired is if there is mold growing. If moisture gets inside the bag, it becomes a breeding ground for mold. This makes the seeds no longer safe to eat and they should be thrown out. If you notice any wet clumps in your chia seed bag, this is indicative that mold is growing. 

This one’s a given, but if you notice any infestations of bugs in your bag of chia seeds, it’s time to throw it out. Chia seeds are most commonly kept in the pantry, which is unfortunately also a place where bugs like to go. If any sort of bug is in your bag, ditch it and buy fresh chia seeds.

How to Tell if Chia Seeds Are Rancid

If chia seeds are rancid, you will be able to tell by their scent and taste. They will likely give off a smell that’s resemblant of chemicals like nail polish remover, and will taste very bitter. Chia seeds that haven’t gone bad are rather bland and mild, so these changes will be quite noticeable.

What Happens If You Eat Expired Chia Seeds?

Eating expired chia seeds likely won’t cause any major issues. At most, you would experience slight discomfort with digestion a couple of hours after consuming them. Particularly because they’re usually eaten in small amounts, it’s unlikely that you’d have any severe symptoms after eating expired chia seeds.

If there isn’t any mold, infestations, or rancidity, technically the chia seeds are still safe to eat. You are only likely to experience discomfort after eating rancid chia seeds, which you’ll certainly be able to taste. There is some theorizing that eating rancid fat can have long-term health consequences though, so it’s best to err on the side of safety.

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Do Chia Seeds Go Bad in Water?

Many people like to soak their chia seeds before consuming them. It can help you reap more health benefits from the seeds, as soaking chia seeds in water releases additional enzymes. Usually, chia seeds are only soaked overnight.

Putting chia seeds in water results in a substance that’s like a gel in texture. This chia seed gel can last up to two weeks when it has been stored properly. Storing soaked chia seeds properly means keeping them in the fridge in a sealed, airtight container. This will preserve them for longer.

If you soak your chia seeds, you should definitely be refrigerating them. But otherwise, they can be kept in a cool place, like a pantry shelf, and away from any heat.

Final Thoughts

The shelf life of chia seeds is extremely long, sometimes lasting up to five years. This is because they have a very high amount of antioxidants. Chia seeds are generally safe to eat if they are not bitter in taste and don’t have any mold or infestations. These cases are indicators that chia seeds are no longer safe for consumption, at which point they should be thrown out.