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chia seeds vs flax seeds

Chia Seeds vs Flax Seeds: Difference Facts & Benefits

If you are a health enthusiast, you may have heard of chia seeds and flax seeds and their endless health benefits. Many fitness freaks out there incorporate these two in their diet by adding them to their smoothies, oatmeals, yogurts, salads, and rice dishes. Some often combine both chia seeds and flax seeds together to give themselves a nutritious boost. 

Both of these seeds are full of nutrients and are exceptionally high in fiber, omega-3s, proteins, and fat. Both chia seeds and flax seeds have a number of health benefits including, better digestion, better blood sugar levels, healthier heart, and protection against certain types of cancer. 

While there is an abundant number of health benefits attached to both, in this article we’ll conduct an in-depth analysis on chia seeds vs flax seeds. We’ll discuss the prominent differences between them in terms of benefit, nutrition comparison, and consumption. 

Chia Seeds vs Flax Seeds:  What is the difference?

We know that both of these seeds are equally nutritious and recently they have become widely popular, which begs the question: What is the difference between chia seeds and flax seeds?

The main difference lies in what each of the seeds tastes like and looks like.

Chia Seeds are tiny, black or white, oval-shaped seeds that are neutral in flavor, whilst flax seeds are flatter and bigger than chia seeds and have a slightly nutty flavor. Despite the difference in taste, both chia and flax seeds are used in different types of food together. 

What are Chia Seeds?

Chia Seeds come from the Salvia hispanica which is a flowering plant in the mint family originating from the central and southern parts of Mexico. Chia seeds became popular in the USA in the 1980s after the introduction of chia pets. Besides that, these seeds are ancient oil seeds used by the Mayans and the Aztec in Mexico and Guatemala.

Nowadays, chia seeds are famous because they are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid, which is known for several health benefits like reducing blood pressure, slowing the development of plaque in the arteries, reducing the likelihood of heart attack and stroke, improving eye health and several other benefits. 

Besides fiber, omega-3, chia seeds are rich in fats, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. 

What are Flax Seeds?

Flaxseeds are amongst the oldest crops that grow in Europe, Asia and U.S and the origin dates back to the beginning of civilization. The Latin name for flaxseeds is Linum usitatissimum, which means “very useful”. Which is quite literal, because the seed is used for many different purposes. From clothing to oil and from it being a top source of lignans for your pet to it being a supremely nutritious add-on for your morning smoothie, flaxseed is an all-purpose seed. 

Today, it is primarily known for its various health benefits like cholesterol management, diabetes management and lowering the risk of heart disease

Are Chia Seeds Healthier than Flax Seeds? – Facts

Both chia seeds and flax seeds are referred to as healthy whole foods. They share a similar nutrition profile and are both rich in protein, fiber, omega-3 acids, magnesium, zinc and a number of other nutrients. Below is the nutrition chart for one ounce of chia seeds and flax seeds, to compare the amounts of nutrients in both.

  Flax Seeds Chia Seeds
Calories 150 137
Macronutrients
Protein 5 grams 4 grams
Carbs 8 grams 12 grams
Fat 12 grams 9 grams
Fiber 8 grams 11 grams
Micronutrients
Omega-3 fatty acids 6400 mg 4900 mg
Omega-6 fatty acids 1700 mg 1600 mg
Manganese 35%  30% 
Thiamine  31% 11%
Magnesium 27% 30%
Phosphorus 18% 27%
Copper 17% 3%
Selenium 10% 22%
Iron 9% 12%
Zinc 8% 7%
Calcium  7% 18%
Potassium 7% 1%

*Percentages are based on a diet of 2000 calories a day

Both seeds are rich in macronutrients and contain vastly high amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 acids. Although when it comes to protein and omega 3 acids, flax seeds have a slightly upper hand and in terms of fiber and lower calorie count, chia seed takes the cake. 

As for micronutrients flax seeds contain significantly high amounts of manganese, copper and potassium. All these nutrients provide protection against stroke, water retention, stronger immune function, iron absorption and reduces inflammation. In contrast chia seeds contain relatively high levels of bone-strengthening minerals calcium and phosphorus and they also have slightly higher levels of iron in them. 

Chia seeds versus flax seeds: Benefits

Both flax seeds and chia seeds are all the rave, because of the exponential benefits of eating them. Due to their similar nutrition portfolio their benefits are quite similar but some specific benefits may vary in both. 

Chia Seeds Benefits

The benefits of chia seeds are as follows:

  • Give a quick nutritional boost, as it contain high amounts of mineral, vitamins and nutrients, with very few calories
  • Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants which help fight the production of free radicals, which damage cell molecules and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer. 
  • Chia seeds are anti-inflammatory which means they help with chronic inflammation.
  • The high fiber and quality protein in chia seeds can help you lose weight
  • Chia seeds help maintain good blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Consuming chia seeds lowers the risk of heart diseases if accompanied with other healthy lifestyle practices like exercising.
  • Chia seeds are rich in important bone nutrients like calcium, magnesium,

phosphorus and protein.  

Flax Seeds Benefits

The benefits of flax seeds are as follows:

  • Flax seeds are also loaded with important nutrients that help improve health
  • Flax seeds have a high quantity of lignans, which may reduce the risk of cancer
  • Flax seeds are rich in dietary fiber which help prevent constipation and improve digestive health
  • Flax seeds help improve cholesterol levels due to its high fiber content
  • Flax seeds have proven via studies that they help lower blood pressure
  • Flax seeds like chia seeds contain high quality protein especially for people who do not eat meat.
  • Flax seeds help maintain blood sugar level due to their insoluble fiber content. 

How to prepare and Consume Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds are a versatile ingredient and a delicious add-on for many of your everyday food and drinks. There are so many ways in which you can consume chia seeds. Some of these ways include: 

  • You can sprinkle a few teaspoons of chia seeds into your cereal, soup, stew or salads.
  • You can also use them as a topping for yogurt or oatmeal or include them in your baking batters like muffin or pancake batter and even in your bread dough
  • You can also stir them into your salad dressings, marinades, spreads and sauces
  •  You can also prepare chia gel by mixing ¼ cup of chia seeds with 1 cup of water and adding it to your smoothies, puddings, and soups. 

How to prepare and Consume Flax Seeds?

There has been quite a lot of debate on how one should consume flaxseeds. Should we eat them grounded or whole? People are often confused about how they should eat these nutty seeds. Here are some ways in which you can prepare and consume flax seeds:

  • Grounded flax seeds can be mixed into a smoothie or shake. 
  • Flax seeds can be used for baking as well. You can add flax seed powder into your cookies, muffins, pancakes, and quick bread doughs. 
  • You can use flaxseed oil in salads by drizzling some of it on roasted vegetables and you can even mix the oil with some herbs and spices and add them on to some crackers or chips.
  • If you are making your own granola bars you can add some grounded flax seeds to the mixture to give it a more nutritional boost.

Weight Control with Flax and Chia Seeds

According to a few researches, the bacteria in a person’s body interact with a mixture of compounds that are present in plant-based foods, which may contribute towards good health and weight management. Flax seeds contain some of these compounds including: lingnans, antioxidants, fiber, isoflavones and omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber and according to studies high fiber intake can prevent obesity. 

Chia seeds are also rich in fiber and protein help curb hunger and make a person feel full.Besides that the calorie count of chia seeds is low making it a highly nutritious, low cal food. According to a study chia flour helps in the reduction of cholesterol levels.

Conclusion

Weight management is a significant issue for most Americans. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 39.6 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from obesity. Many things can contribute towards being healthy. Proper diet which can include the above-mentioned seeds and exercise. But you may need some guidance for weight management. 

Visit Manhattan Medical Arts and with the help of our expert primary care physicians take control over your health and weight.

– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by Dr. Syra Hanif, M.D. on 07/12/2021

Learn more about our editorial process.

  • About The Author

    Dr. Syra Hanif M.D.

    Board Certified Primary Care Physician

Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.

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