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Chia Seeds or Flax Seeds Which Provides More Health Benefits?

Updated on September 16, 2016
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Beverley Byer has been writing on and offline for a number of years. Her work has been published in magazines and newspapers.

Bag of chia seeds
Bag of chia seeds | Source

Chia Seeds

Though research is scarce, chia seeds appear to have better nutritional value than flax seeds. This is likely due to the higher ratios of nutrients in the former over the latter and as such suggests more health benefits. Chia or Salvia hispanica is a native plant of Mexico and a member of the mint family. The Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas found it quite useful. The seeds provided them energy, other medicinal benefits, and played an important role in their spiritual rituals. Those poppy-size gems are powerhouses when it comes to the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They are also rich in antioxidants -caffeic and chlorogenic acids, quercetin, myricetin, and flavonols, protein, soluble and insoluble fiber, calcium, and water in addition to small quantities of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and copper.

Besides stamina, health benefits may include lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers (chia has been proven to have more antioxidants than blueberries and as such are better able to reduce free-radical cell damage); controlling blood pressure and weight; preventing constipation; cleansing and protecting the digestive tract (because of its high fiber content and ability to absorb 12 times its weight in water), and reducing signs of aging. Adverse effects include allergic reactions - hives, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling of the tongue and throat or skin rashes, and gas and bloating due to fiber quantity. Pregnant and breast-feeding women should consume with caution.

Chia seeds are brown, tan, gray or black and have a crunchy, nutty flavor. Grab a handful and eat them or sprinkle them on cereal, salads, cottage cheese, yogurt, and milkshakes. They can be added to any dish or recipe as whole seeds or ground. By the way, it is best to purchase organic chia seeds and from a health food store for consuming.

brown flax seeds
brown flax seeds | Source

Flax Seeds

Extensive research has been done on flax seeds, so its nutrients and health benefits are fairly well known. Flax, scientific name, Linum usitatissimum, belongs to the family of plants called Linaceae and dates beyond 5,000BC. Just as the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas favored chia seeds, ancient Egyptians loved flax seeds. It was their energy pack. They also used it to treat other ailments. The plant was brought to North America early in the 17th century for its oil. According to the website,, the oil was used to make linoleum, coat wood and tools, among other functions. North Dakota produces about 80% of America’s crop.

Like chia seeds, flax seeds are loaded with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Data shows flax having more omega-3 than chia. The percentage is 56 % omega-3 to 16 % omega-6, whereas in chia seeds, the percentage of omega-3 to omega-6 is 30 to 40. Additionally, flax seeds have soluble and insoluble fiber, antioxidants –phytonutrients and lignans, protein, vitamins B6, E, folate, minerals zinc, potassium, magnesium, and a small amount of copper.

Proven benefits of flax seeds are lowering cholesterol, the risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes; reducing arthritis, inflammation, and cell damage from free radicals; preventing constipation, and promoting healthy skin. Negative effects include allergic reactions, seizures, weakness, and shortness of breath. As with chia, pregnant and breast-feeding women should consume with caution.

Flax flavor is similar to chia and the seeds can be consumed in much the same manner except they are more digestible ground. They tend to go rancid quickly due to the high oil content. So they should be refrigerated in a dark container for about three months. Flax seeds are small, oval-shaped, and brown or golden in color. They can be purchased as oil, whole, ground, unfiltered and unrefined.


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    • beverley byer profile image

      Beverley Byer 4 years ago from United States of America


    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      I vote for chia! I grow it and harvest it organically in my own garden. Every year I harvest fresh seed, confident there's no contaminants.

      Voted up. :)