Both chia seeds and flaxseeds are incredibly healthy. These seeds are packed with nutrients that our bodies need. They also have health benefits of lowering blood sugar levels, protect us from cancers and keep our hearts healthy. However, have you ever thought which of these two super foods are the healthiest?
Firstly, what is the difference between chia seeds and flaxseeds? Simply put, chia seeds, the small, black seeds from the Salvia hispanica plant, which is also called salba seeds, are native to Guatemala and Mexico were a stable of the ancient Aztec and Mayan diets. Flaxseeds, however, are native from the Middle East, and is a much better seeds than chia seeds. They are also known as linseeds and are golden or brown in color. Flaxseeds have a nutty flavor, whereas chia seeds are bland in taste.
However, the focus of this article is to look at which is the healthiest. Therefore, doing a nutritional comparison is vital. That said, both are rich in different types of nutrients. The difference for the major nutrients are:
- Flaxseeds contain 8 grams of carbs and chia seeds, 12 grams of carbs 12.
- Flaxseeds contain 8 grams of fiber and chai seeds contains 11 grams.
- Flaxseeds contain 5 grams of protein and chia seeds contains 4 grams of protein.
- Flaxseeds contain 12 grams of fat and chia seeds contains 9 grams of fat.
- Flaxseeds contain 6400 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and chia seeds has less, at 4900 mg.
- Flaxseeds contain 1700 mg of omega-6 fatty acids and chia seeds has less at 1600 mg.
- Flaxseeds contain 5 % more manganese than chia seeds.
- Flaxseeds contain 20 % more thiamine than chia seeds.
- Flaxseeds contain 9 % less phosphorus than chia seeds.
- Flaxseeds contains3 % less magnesium than chia seeds.
- Flaxseed has 14 % more copper than chia seed.
- Flaxseed contains 12 % less selenium than chia seed.
- Flaxseed contain 3 % less iron than chia seed.
- Flaxseeds contain 1 % more zinc than chia seed.
- Flaxseed contains 11 % less calcium than chia seeds.
- Flaxseeds contain 6 % more potassium than chia seeds.
From the above you can notice that flaxseeds contain more manganese, copper and potassium than chia seeds. But chia seeds contain slightly fewer calories and more fiber. Chia seeds also contain 1.5–2 times more of the bone-strengthening minerals calcium and phosphorus, as well as slightly more iron. Still, if you are looking for the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, then you should select flaxseeds. If you are looking for the best source of fiber, and bone-strengthening minerals, opt for chia seeds.
Flaxseeds and chia seeds could both be beneficial to your heart health
Both chia and flaxseeds contain good amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of plant-based omega-3 fat. This type of omega-3 fat is seen as essential as our bodies cannot produce it and we need to get it through our diets.
Alpha-linolenic acid has been linked to lowering your risk of developing heart disease by at least 14 percent, but some studies have put the number at 39%. Nonetheless, it is agreed that around 1.8 grams of per day could lower your risk of heart attacks.
More so, both these seeds, flax and chia, will lower your blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels.
Still, chia seeds contain just slightly less alpha-linolenic acid than flaxseeds, so they may be expected to have similar heart-protective effects. Therefore, more studies may simply be needed to confirm this effect. It is worth noting that, due to their high omega-3 content, both flax and chia may have blood-thinning effects. Individuals on blood-thinners should consult their doctors before adding large amounts of these seeds to their diets.
Both flaxseed and chia seeds can aid to lower blood sugar levels
Flaxseeds and chia seeds both contain a good amount of fiber, which can help to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Fiber helps guard against type 2 diabetes by slowing down how fast carbs are digested and how quickly sugar is absorbed into the blood. This leads to a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels after a meal. In other words, fiber helps prevent blood sugar spikes. This stabilizes blood sugar levels and offers some protection against type 2 diabetes. In fact, several studies have linked regularly eating flax and chia seeds to this protective effect. For instance, studies in people with type 2 diabetes report that taking 1–2 tablespoons of flaxseed powder per day may reduce fasting blood sugar by 8–20%.
Flaxseeds can be better to reduce the risk of some cancers
Although both seeds, chia and flax, are good at protecting against certain types of cancers. They are fiber-rich, packed with nutrients, and antioxidants that help to fight cancer. However, when it comes to antioxidant levels, flaxseeds may have the upper hand. That is because they contain up to 15 times higher levels of lignans, a specific type of cancer-fighting antioxidant, compared to chia seeds (39).
For this reason, flaxseeds may be slightly more effective than chia seeds at preventing cancers from developing. Several observational studies support the notion that eating flaxseeds on a regular basis can lower the risk of developing certain cancers.
Flaxseeds are better at reducing appetite and hunger
Although chia seeds and flaxseeds are both great sources of fiber, which can help reduce hunger and cravings, they contain different levels of soluble fiber, a type particularly effective at reducing hunger and controlling appetite. Soluble fiber tends to become sticky when mixed with water, slowing down digestion and increasing feelings of fullness. This type of fiber is also known to trigger hormones involved in controlling hunger, which may further reduce appetite.
Overall, both flaxseeds and chia seeds seem to reduce hunger and appetite. However, due to their higher soluble fiber content, flaxseeds may be slightly more effective at doing so.
Flaxseeds and chia seeds can improve digestion
Digestion is a critical function your body performs every day, helping you break down the foods you eat and absorb their nutrients. Poor digestion can make it more difficult for your body to get all the nutrients it needs, and can produce some unpleasant side effects.
Thanks to their high fiber content, flax and chia seeds may help relieve both constipation and diarrhea. As mentioned earlier, there are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
- Soluble fiber: Dissolves in water, forming a gel in the gut. It can slow down the passage of food, promoting feelings of fullness.
- Insoluble fiber: Does not dissolve in water and passes through the gut without changing much. This type of fiber adds bulk to your stools and may speed the passage of food through your gut.
Found in both chia and flaxseeds, insoluble fiber helps add bulk to stool, and acts as a laxative, reducing constipation.
On the other hand, the gel-forming properties of soluble fiber, which is found mostly in flaxseeds, can help digestive waste bind together, reducing diarrhea.
Both, chia and flaxseeds are very nutritious. Both also offer similar benefits for heart health, blood sugar levels and digestion. However, flaxseeds do appear to have a slight advantage, especially when it comes to reducing hunger and appetite, as well as lowering the risk of certain cancers. Plus, they’re often less expensive.
Yet, ultimately, the differences between the two seeds remain small. Either flax or chia seeds would be a great addition to your diet.