Chia vs. Flax Seed: And the winner is…

chiaflax

By Vicki Little

According to the Oxford dictionary, a superfood is “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.”

There are so many fads floating around about the healthiest “super foods” to eat, the best ways to lose weight or how to supplement workouts. Both chia and flax seeds are often cited as good choices for all of those goals and both are considered super foods — but is one better than the other? There’s a lot of enthusiasm out there for both, so I decided to try each one and see what all the hype was about. I did find my favorite, but I also found reasons to keep the other seed in my diet as well. I didn’t find many cons, but rather it became a competition of which seed has more beneficial properties.

FLAX SEED

One important note about flax seed is that it has no beneficial value unless it is ground. You can easily find it in the bulk section of your health food store, but usually it is in whole-seed form, and it will need to be ground up before consuming to reap the benefits. You can store the ground seeds in the refrigerator to keep them from spoiling.

TAKES THE LEAD IN:

Lignans — A lignan is an estrogen that is found in the hulls of various plants. It has been linked to a reduced risk of cancers, particularly breast and prostate cancer.

    • Flaxseeds (85.5 mg/ounce)
    • Chia seeds (32 mg/ounce)1

Omegas — Both chia and flax seeds are described as super foods because of their Omega-3 properties, specifically alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This fatty acid helps build cell membranes and it can also help protect against heart disease. More studies are coming out showing that Omega-3’s may help with rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.2  Both seeds contain a good amount, but flaxseed has slightly more.

  • Flaxseeds (6388mg/ounce)
  • Chia seeds (4915mg/ounce)3

Proteins — This one is a close call, but flaxseed is the winner with 5 grams of protein per ounce while chia seeds only have 4 grams per ounce. 

CHIA SEEDS

These seeds can be consumed either whole or ground, so if you keep a container of them nearby you can grab a yogurt or water and simply add some. Their taste is subtle, they are gluten-free, and they can be used as a thickening agent.

TAKES THE LEAD IN:

Calories — According to my local health food market, chia seeds are the winner in this category with slightly fewer calories, although only by a mere 3 calories. Chia seeds have 137 calories per ounce, 72 of which are from fat. Flaxseeds, by comparison, have 140 calories per ounce, 90 of which are from fat.

Fiber — Both are very high in soluble fiber, but chia seeds provide 42% of the daily recommended intake with 10 grams, whereas flaxseed only offers 32% of the DRV with 8 grams.

Calcium — Chia seeds are the clear winner of calcium by supplying 18% of the daily recommended allowance. Flaxseeds only provide 5 grams.

AND THE WINNER IS…

Overall, both seeds have their own benefits that are slightly better than the other. Those not included in the comparison are B1, magnesium, phosphorus and more. Both seeds are beneficial for reducing the risk of cancer, helping to lower cholesterol and diabetes, and keeping bones strong. The best bet would be to have both seeds on hand and use them for different things. The flax seed would be perfect in a smoothie since you can get that whole grinding thing out of the way. Chia seeds are a great topping for yogurt or sprinkled on your eggs. My daily go-to has been chia seeds as I can just slip some in my water and head out the door. I do, however, have to put up with my husband following me around singing: “Ch-ch-ch-Chia!”

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu
2 http://www.drfuhrman.com
http://nutritiondata.self.com

 

Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. When she isn’t writing or trying to keep up with her kids she can be found volunteering, reading, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.

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