When deciding about including a new food item in your diet, it is important to know both the pros and cons of different items under consideration and picks one that suits them best. In this blog, we will be talking about two healthiest seeds to be included in your daily diet – Chia Seeds and Flaxseeds.
Both the seeds are highly nutritious and help to boost human health. Here is a clear comparison, this chia seeds vs. flaxseeds guide will help you choose what’s best for you and not just this, we have also mentioned the health benefits of chia seeds.
However, let us first start with the basic – what are chia seeds and flaxseeds?
Chia seeds are round and small seeds with its origin dating back to the times of Aztec in South America and Mexico. However, most of its commercial production is now from Australia. Found in white and black colors, the two kinds of seeds have got some nutritional difference. According to the land of Aztec, the literal meaning of chia is ‘strength’ and relates to the mint family. It was in the 200s that these seeds came into popularity after a couple of decades of being known through the tchotchke Chia Pet. Chia seeds are also called Salba seeds, so do not get confused when you see a label named so!
Talking about Flaxseeds, these are pumpkin-shaped seeds but small in size. These are also available in two colors, brown and golden. The seeds was found as a part of the diet in early 3000 BC, in someplace of Babylon. There is no relation of the Aztec warriors and Flaxseeds but there have been claims that King Charlemagne passed a law in the 8th century declaring that all his subjects should consume flaxseeds for health benefits. Also called linseed, flaxseed is also used to feed the livestock today, like cows, chickens to make their meat rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds are extracted from a plant’s flower that can be easily grown in different areas of North America.
Both Chia seeds and flaxseeds have small varieties and come with high nutritional benefits that we will be discussing further in this blog.
Chia Seeds Vs Flaxseeds – Pros and Cons
Omega -3 Fatty Acids
One ounce of flaxseeds contains around 6000mg of ALA (omega-3 element).
One ounce of chia seeds contains around 4,900mg of ALA.
Both the seeds are sources of ALA and none of these contains DHA which can be consumed from fish like salmon. Though flaxseeds are higher in ALA when it comes to omega-3 fatty acids, still chia seeds are nowhere behind in the race as the 4900mg of ALA in chia seeds works same as 6000mg of salmon. Omega-3 is an important element for our bodies such as its role in preventing diabetes, inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
One ounce of flaxseeds contains 8gms of fiber.
One ounce of chia seeds contains 11gms of fiber.
Chia seeds form a gel-like substance during the digestion process which helps to block the fibers from turning into sugars. Thus, making chia seeds a perfect carbs alternative for diabetic patients.
A rich fiber diet helps in the prevention of many diseases like cancer, diabetes and cardiac diseases. So, here chia seeds seem to be a clear winner!
Flaxseeds contain a high level of lignans that helps in reducing blood pressure and improving skin appearance.
Chia seeds also contain lignans but not as higher than flaxseeds.
Lignans are also called phytochemicals that work great ion reducing the symptoms of menopause. So, if you have menopause approaching, increase flaxseeds intake to get through the phase smoothly.
Chia seeds consist of more varieties of antioxidants that helps in prevention of cancer and aging. As compared to flaxseeds, chia seeds rank higher in levels of antioxidants such as blueberries and acai. According to studies, darker chia seeds are richer in antioxidants than white chia seeds. Experts claim that the mix of both colors is best for your diet.
Another point for chia seeds! Calcium is important for a balanced diet as it boosts strength and bone health as you grow older. Flaxseeds are not that significant when it comes to calcium. Chia seeds are high in minerals such as phosphorus, zinc and magnesium.
- 1 ounce of Flaxseeds contain 8grams of protein
- 1 ounce of chia seeds contains 6grams of proteins
Both the seeds are a vital source of protein that helps in cutting down midnight snacks cravings. However, flaxseeds get this point in boosting your muscle strength better and weight loss.
Vitamin and Minerals
Chia seeds are replete with minerals and vitamins like copper, manganese, zinc, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium.
Flaxseeds are high in vitamins and minerals like copper, iron, manganese and B6 vitamins.
People with iron deficiency are suggested to increase the intake of flaxseeds in their diet. For calcium, chia seeds are a better option.
Chia seeds have a longer shelf life, up to a year in your kitchen cabinet. It can also be kept sprouted as a different ingredient altogether that can be used for sandwiches or salads.
Flaxseeds, on the other hand, can go rancid over time when exposed to air, light or heat. It is suggested to store it in a dark box in the refrigerator. Finish them quickly to get the best results.
You can have both the seeds in similar quantities – 2 tablespoons or 25 grams. Add them grounded to your oatmeal or mix with other dishes.
Ground chia seeds or flaxseeds are best served with pudding or oatmeal. Just sprinkle it over them or blend in your smoothies and shakes.
Another way of how to eat chia seeds is that you can also mix ground chia seeds or flax seeds in flour to make some dishes, mostly flaxseeds. You will also find flaxseeds included in pancakes mixes and waffles.
Ease of Access
Chia seeds are available whole in the form of chia bran, oil or ground. Chia seeds can be consumed in any form. These are high in nutrients when soaked or ground.
Flaxseeds are also available whole but can also be found as flaxseed meal, pre-ground. It is consumed ground which takes time to digest. It needs to be ground, broken open or cracked to make it digestible.
Chia seeds are costlier than flaxseeds as they are still towards growing popular.
Now that we have compared the pros and cons of both flaxseeds and chia seeds, let us talk about the benefits of chia seeds for an improved and healthy lifestyle.
Health benefits of chia seeds
Very few calories and a large amount of nutrients
Do not let the size of these seeds fool you as only one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds gives you:
- Protein: 4gms
- Fiber: 11gms
- Calcium: 18% of RDI
- Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are omega-3s).
- Manganese: 30% of the RDI.
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDI.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDI.
These seeds also contain good amount of Vitamin B1, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B2, zinc and potassium.
Isn’t that impressive that just an ounce (two tablespoons) of these seeds can get you so much of nutrients with just 1gm digestible carbs and 137 calories? Moreover, if you deduct the calories from fiber, it comes down to 101 calories per ounce!
Loaded with Antioxidants
Chia seeds have a high level of antioxidants that helps to protect sensitive fats in the seeds to go rancid. The antioxidants in these seeds have got great health benefits, such as fighting the production of free radicals which may eventually be responsible for diseases like cancer and cause aging.
Carbs in chia seeds are fiber
Yeah, we know high carb foods are not good for your health but the carbs in chia seeds are present in the form of fiber which is not digestible. So, you need not worry about the side effects of carbs. In 1 ounce of chia seeds, there are 12gms of carbs, of which 11gms is fiber.
So, this makes chia seeds food with low-carbs, healthy for your body.
The high fiber in chia seeds doesn’t increase the blood sugar level which makes it a low-carb food. Fiber contributes to slow absorption of food which makes you feel fuller and consumes less food, thus stimulating weight loss.
Chia seeds have a high protein content
Chia seeds have 14% of protein by weight and contain a perfect balance of vital amino acids. When you eat food like chia seeds, high in protein, it lowers you’re appetite and reduces the midnight food cravings. People who eat no animal product or have less appetite, chia seeds are the best source of protein.
Chia seeds boost weight loss
As discussed, chia seeds are high in protein and fiber, it reduces your food cravings resulting in weight loss. A little number of chia seeds in your food can make you feel fuller due to its soluble fibers glucomannan that promotes weight loss.
As per studies, consuming chia seeds for breakfast increases satiety and can lower the short-term food intake. Make sure to combine it with other rich food and maintain a healthy lifestyle to make it work for losing weight.
Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids
Chia seeds provide higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which needs to be converted into DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) to have better effects on your body. Converting ALAs to DHAs and EPAs is not an easy task for the human body.
Chia seeds reduce the risk of cardiac disease
Being high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber, chia seeds can reduce the risk of cardiac disease. However, the results have still been inconclusive in various studies. These seeds can reduce risk factors like inflammation, triglycerides, belly fat and insulin resistance.
Chia seeds have the potential to reduce blood pressure which is a risk factor for cardiac disease. As such, it says that chia seeds are beneficial for your heart health.
Chia seeds are rich in bone nutrients
Chia seeds are rich in various nutrients that help in boosting bone health such as phosphorous, protein, magnesium and calcium. If you don’t eat dairy products, chia seeds are an excellent source of calcium for you which help in increasing bone strength. 28 grams of chia seeds contains 18% of RDI, the calcium content.
Chia seeds can control blood sugar levels
In a few animal studies, it has been found that chia seeds have the potential of improving insulin sensitivity that controls and stabilizes blood sugar levels post meals. Even some human studies prove that consuming bread having chia seeds can lower the blood sugar level after meals as compared to consumption of bread without chia seeds content. Chia seeds can thus be a good source of food for people with type 2 diabetes and low blood sugar levels can control heart diseases.
Chia seeds reduce chronic inflammation
Chronic inflammation from an injury or infection can be a risk factor for cancer and heart disease and the visible signs of such inflammation are hard to notice. It can only be identified by measuring the inflammatory markers in the blood. Some of the reasons for chronic inflammation is smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise.
Eating chia seeds can lower the inflammatory markers in your blood levels. Studies showed that consuming 37gms of chia seeds can reduce inflammatory marker by 40% (hs-CRP inflammatory marker). These seeds can also detect the effects of the inflammatory markers.
Chia seeds can be easily included in your diet
Chia seeds can be easily included in the diet – not required to be necessarily ground, soaked or crumbled. It can be eaten in any form you want. You can have it soaked in your juice, added to pudding, smoothies or porridge. One can even have them raw. If you don’t like these ideas, have it sprinkled on your yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, rice dishes or vegetables.
As chia seeds absorb fat and water, you can use it as an egg substitute or thicken the sauces in recipes. Adding chia seeds to your food increases the nutritional value of the dish. Experts suggest that consuming 20gms of chia seeds daily twice can be very beneficial for a healthy lifestyle. It is very easy to prepare and is mostly consumed as an added ingredient to smoothies or porridge.
We hope you are now ready to include chia seeds and flaxseeds in your daily balanced diet for a healthy body.