Chia Seeds vs. Flax Seeds

Which one of these powerhouse seeds is best for you?  Before diving into the nutritional and functional details, let’s start out by stating that adding either of these seeds to your diet is a fantastic idea.   Chia and Flax seeds are among the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet and there is really no way to go wrong with either. 

NUTRITION

You aren’t here for me to tell you they are both great, so let’s get to the differences.  The following table will help explain nutritional differences based on 1 ounce servings.  The different nutrients are provided in ranges as they vary based on the growing location and time of year. 
 

CHIA SEEDS

Nutrient

FLAX SEEDS

4800 -5200 mg

Omega 3

6000 -6300 mg

1500-1750 mg

Omega 6

1500-1750 mg

120-150

Calories

135-165

4-5 g

Protein

4.5-6 g

9-12 g

Fiber

6-9 g

160-190 mg

Calcium

60-80 mg



When it comes to nutritional profiles, these two seeds are incredibly similar.  Flax has more essential fatty acids and protein, while chia has more fiber and calcium with fewer calories.  Chia, unlike flax, is a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids.  They both offer a number antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals as well.
 

Chia seeds and flax seeds

TASTE

More of a personal preference than anything, chia seeds have a minor nutty, almost neutral taste.  This is beneficial if your plan is to nutritionally enhance your meal without altering the taste.  Flax, on the other hand, has a nice, nutty taste that is a welcome addition if you are looking for a burst of flavor. 

FUNCTIONALITY

Chia seeds are simple to use as they can be eaten whole as well as ground.  They form a gelatinous coating when soaked in water (or almond milk) overnight.  The texture of this gel is great for thickening smoothies and yogurts, but it can be off-putting.  Flax seeds must be ground as our body cannot digest the entire seed.  While this is one extra step, many prefer the ground flax texture to the gooey whole seed chia gel. 

STORAGE

Powerful antioxidants allow chia seeds to stabilize for up to 12 months on the shelf, although many tests have shown chia seeds lasting much longer without oxidation.   Flax seeds need to be stored in the fridge to avoid oxidation and rancidity. 

USES

Chia seeds and flax seeds can be used similarly as egg replacements in baking, breadcrumbs, or finishing seed mixes for baked goods.  They can be used as additions to smoothies, salads, yogurt and oatmeal.  From sports drinks to baking mixes to flour replacements, the uses for these two mighty seeds is almost endless.

So, which seed is best?

As I stated at the beginning, there is no right answer.  For fewer calories, higher calcium and fiber, neutral flavor, and longer shelf life – choose chia seeds.  For more fatty acids, protein, and flavor – try adding flax to your diet.  In the end, a mixture of both would be ideal as each seed has something unique (and beneficial!) to offer.