It is rather easy to differentiate flax seeds and chia seeds though certain people who have not seen them would be scratching heads. I have been using both these seeds for some time now in my bread making but funny I never thought of finding out their actual benefits. If you’re here reading this meaning we have the same question and want to find out flax seeds vs chia seeds health benefits. And to know which is better and healthier.
Labeled as Superfood
Chia seeds have been recognized as a superfood or super seed for their high concentration of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your body needs. Even though chia seeds earned this superfood label much earlier, flax seeds are not too far behind as they too have caught nutritionists’ attention for their high nutritive profile.
Superfood is mainly a marketing term for food claimed to provide health benefits due to the remarkable nutrient density. Superfood or superhype, you and I need to know what’s so impressive about chia seeds and flax seeds.
For those who don’t know exactly what chia seed is, as well as flax seed, I explain briefly here.
What is Chia Seed
Chia seeds are tiny, slightly oval-shaped seeds and come from the flowering plant believed originated from Central America. Sometimes called Salba seeds, they are available in black or white varieties though black chia seeds are more common.
Chia is a Mayan word for strength, and these seeds were an important food for Mayans and Aztecs in former times.
In terms of taste, well, chia seeds are bland and tasteless.
What About Flax Seeds
Flax seeds, sometimes spelled flaxseed, are slightly bigger than chia seeds but flatter with a lightly nutty flavour.
I found an article written by Tish Davidson on encyclopedia.com that mentioned flax plant originated in India but has since been farmed across the globe. Archeologists discovered evidence that flax was cultivated in ancient Babylon as early as 3,000 b.c.
Not trying to confuse you, flaxseed may be called linseed depending on how they’re used. When consumed as a food, you call it flaxseed. Flax is referred to as linseed when used for other purposes.
Linseeds are primarily used to make linseed oil, which is used in paint as well as in the textile and paper-making industries. Also, used in animal feed.
Chia Seed vs Flax Seed Nutrition Facts in Brief
Generally, chia and flax seeds are packed with fiber, protein, and healthy fats which help improves your digestive and cardiovascular health.
Let’s compare the nutrients found in both seeds based on a 1-ounce serving (28g) that’s about 3 tablespoons.
|Chia Seeds||Flax Seeds|
|Total Fats||8.7g | 11% DV | 89% unsaturated fats||12g | 15% DV | 91% unsaturated fats|
|Total Carbohydrates||12g | 4% DV||8.2g | 3% DV|
|Fibre||9.7g | 35% DV||7.7g | 28% DV|
|Protein||4.7g | 9% DV||5.2g | 10% DV|
|Niacin||16% DV||5% DV|
|Thiamine||15% DV||39% DV|
|Phosphorus||35% DV||26% DV|
|Manganese||34% DV||31% DV|
|Copper||29% DV||38% DV|
|Selenium||28% DV||13% DV|
|Magnesium||24% DV||28% DV|
|Calcium||14% DV||6% DV|
|Iron||12% DV||9% DV|
|Zinc||12% DV||11% DV|
As you can see, most notably is the fibre content of these seeds. Chia seeds are slightly higher in fibre but have fewer calories and lower in protein.
The amount of phosphorus, manganese, copper, and magnesium in both are impressive too though there are slight differences between them.
How Do Chia Seeds and Flax Seeds Benefit Your Health
Chia and flax seeds when eaten as part of a balanced diet may help support your health in several ways. Let’s find out how you benefit from the nutrients.
Fibre for Digestion, Constipation & Blood Sugar Control
Digestion is an important function in your body because it helps break down the foods so that you’re able to absorb the nutrients. Imagine you having digestive issues, your body won’t be able to obtain all the necessary nutrients. Hence, unhealthy side effects arise including constipation and diarrhoea.
Constipation and diarrhoea are two common health issues related to poor digestion. The high fibre content of chia and flax seeds may help relieve constipation and diarrhoea (1).
There are two types of fibre and both chia and flax seeds have them.
1. Soluble fibre dissolves in water, forming a gel in your digestive tract. It binds digestive waste, reducing diarrhoea.
2. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and passes through your digestive tract without changing much. This adds bulk to your stools making them easier to pass.
In addition, fibre helps stabilize blood sugar levels and offers some protection against type 2 diabetes. All fibres can slow the absorption of sugar hence help prevent blood sugar spikes.
Healthy Fats for Cholesterol & Heart Health
Saturated fats and trans fats are BAD for you. The good guys, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known to be “good fats” and also referred to as “heart-healthy” fats. This is because they are good for your cholesterol and heart.
Fats found in chia and flax seeds are mostly healthy unsaturated fats (refer to the table above).
Monounsaturated fats. Studies have consistently shown that eating foods containing monounsaturated fat can improve your blood cholesterol level and decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease (1, 2).
A study revealed a diet high in monounsaturated fats not only reduced harmful LDL “bad” cholesterol but also increased healthy HDL “good” cholesterol.
Polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3 fats are a key family of polyunsaturated fats and there are 3 main omega-3 fatty acids. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is one of them. Several studies have linked ALA with heart health (1, 2).
An animal study has shown that the ALA in flax seeds prevented cholesterol, fat and other substances from being deposited in the blood vessels. It is important to avoid this as overtime, your arteries may harden or narrowed. This leads to cardiovascular diseases including heart attack and stroke.
Minerals for Healthy Bones
Manganese is important for bone health, including bone development and maintenance. When combined with calcium, zinc, and copper, manganese supports bone mineral density (1, 2). This is especially important in older adults.
As you can see from the table above, the said minerals are found in chia seeds as well as flax seeds.
Chia Seed vs Flax Seed. How Do you Choose?
While both chia and flax seeds have similar nutrients and only a slight difference in the amount of each nutrient, how would you determine which is better?
Is it going to be chia seeds or flax seeds for constipation?
As mentioned earlier, fibre is important for your digestive system and helps relieve constipation.
A 1-ounce serving of chia seeds contains 9.8g of fibre compared to 7.7g in flax seeds. Translated to Daily Value, chia seeds give you 35% DV, whereas flax seeds 28% DV.
Obviously, chia seeds are better for constipation. However, if you increase the consumed amount of flax seeds, it will not make much difference after all.
Caution: Too much fibre may cause stomach bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and oddly, constipation. If these happen, you need to up your fluid intake and exercise more. Also, reduce high-fibre food to a comfortable amount. Having said that, from the beginning it is advisable to increase your fibre intake gradually and monitor how your body responds.
How about building muscle? Chia seeds or flax seeds
Needless to emphasize, protein is known to be is essential for building muscles. In another word, protein is the building block of your muscles thus your body needs sufficient protein in order to build them.
Chia seeds give you 9% DV while flax seeds 10% DV. The difference is very minimal and you can include both seeds in your protein-rich diet to support your bodybuilding or muscle-strengthening routine.
Protein, coupled with fibre and healthy fats of these seeds are beneficial foods for bodybuilding and keeping muscle mass.
How to Eat Chia Seeds and Flax Seeds
You can easily add chia and flax seeds to your daily diet. Include them in your homemade baked goods such as bread, muffins, waffles or pancakes, and cookies.
When making your own granola or muesli, you can boost the nutritional value by adding chia and flax seeds. The same goes for morning oatmeals, yoghurt parfait, and smoothies. You will have a more filling breakfast because of the high fibre content.
Tips on consuming chia and flax seeds
Grind your flax seeds. Many nutritionists recommend grinding whole flax seeds before adding them to your recipes. The reason for this is because your body cannot naturally break them down fully to digest and absorb all the nutritional goodness.
However, this does not mean you cannot eat chia seeds whole. You still enjoy the benefits, just that the nutrients may not be fully absorbed.
Use a spice grinder or coffee grinder to grind your flax seeds. Alternatively, buy ground flax seeds (Affiliate Link) commonly called flaxseed meal. If you don’t mind using your arm muscle, pestle and mortar can be used to grind flax seeds.
Soak your chia seeds. Soaked chia seeds are much easier to digest and increases the amount of nutrients absorbed by your body. Simply soak them in warm water for about 30 minutes.
You can also soak chia seeds overnight. If you do this, consider adding them to your overnight oats.
Similar to flax seeds, you can always eat chia seeds whole as is, or in ground form depending on how you intend to use or eat them.
Take note: Chia seeds are capable of absorbing a lot of liquid so it’s important to stay well-hydrated when consuming them, especially in dry form.
In a Nutshell
With regards to chia seed vs flax seed, both are excellent sources of fibre, healthy fats and protein. In addition, they give you numerous micronutrients including manganese, phosphorous, copper, and magnesium.
You can include both chia seeds and flax seeds in your daily diet to boost heart health and, manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Need to build a bit of muscle or increase energy levels? Both these seeds help. So is for relieving constipation.
Though the amount of nutrients varies between chia and flax seeds, they are minimal. Hence you can choose either one or eat them both together.
I use chia seeds and flax seeds together when making my multigrain bread. The same goes for muesli but I use flaxseed meals for better digestion and absorption.
If you have not know why chia seeds are so popular, I hope this article explains. Chia seeds are labelled a superfood for their excellent nutritional contents. Together with flax seeds, they benefit your health and well-being in many ways.
Have you tried chia seeds? Or flax seeds? Now you know flax seeds vs chia seeds health benefits, which would you choose?
Tell us in the comments section below.
Last but not least (not trying to be long-winded), if you are not used to eating this much dietary fibre, it is best to start with a small amount, say a half tablespoon of each seed first so your digestive system can adjust.
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Learn more: From me Nuttylog
Now, Let’s Get Started:
For US readers, shop on Amazon. There are plenty of choices to choose from.
Here are a few I found for you. Take a look ↓
Sprinkle these organic chia seeds everywhere – cereal, salads, soups, smoothies, …
I read many Amazon reviews and common complaints on other brands are packaging filled with twigs and chaff. Bugs too.
So, check this out on Amazon. Certified organic chia seeds. Triple cleaned in the USA. Cold stored. Vacuum sealed.
Happy shopping and thanks for reading.
Me YourHealthy Corner – Stay in Good Health, Healthy Eating Habits
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Medical Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional, and this post should not be taken as medical advice. Please do your own research. The material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.