Flax and chia seeds have become popular in recent years. You may have seen products like chia seed pudding or flax-infused baked goods popping up on the internet or social media. What’s the hype behind these two little seeds? Is one better than the other?
We’ve gathered some background information about these seeds and compared them by nutritional value, research, and health benefits.
Both seeds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but before you get rid of your omega-3 supplement made from fish, there are some important considerations. The omega-3s found in flax and chia seeds are primarily ALA (alpha-linoleic acid). In order for the body to use this form of omega-3s, they need to be converted into their active forms, EPA and DHA. Unfortunately, the human body does not convert ALA well, leaving less of the active forms of EPA and DHA to use. So keep taking your fish oil or a plant-based DHA supplement to increase the amount of omega 3 in your diet. Better yet, make fatty fish like salmon, trout, pollock, anchovies, tuna, halibut and rainbow trout a regular part of your weekly diet.
Flax and chia seeds are rich in several different nutrients. Chia seeds have an advantage from a fiber standpoint, being slightly lower in calories per serving. At first glance, chia seeds may seem nutritionally superior to flaxseeds, but the research isn’t there to support that point. On the other hand, flaxseeds have been well-researched and show a clear benefit in decreasing heart disease, improving both blood pressure and cholesterol, preventing certain cancers, and supporting the digestive system. Chia seeds also hold promise in many of these areas as well.
Many people ask which seed is better – flax or chia? It depends on your nutritional goals. Both seeds can benefit heart health and blood sugar levels. Flax seeds can help curb your appetite by reducing hunger. They also reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Chia seeds will help you to increase your fiber intake and improve your bone health. The bottom line is that flax or chia would be a great addition to your diet.
Flax and chia seeds can be eaten whole, but studies indicate that the nutrients they contain may be better absorbed when ingested in the soil. This is especially true of flax seeds, due to their hard outer shell. Because of their high fat content, both types of seeds should be stored in the refrigerator and on the ground before eating.
I created a delicious Cinnamon Vanilla Granola recipe that uses chia and flaxseeds. Try it and let us know what you think!
Cinnamon Vanilla Granola
Serves ~ 12
Serving Size: ¼ cup of granola
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup of almonds
1/2 tbsp. cinnamon powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 Tablespoon. vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup avocado oil or coconut oil
Preheat oven to 300°F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix until oatmeal is well coated. Place on baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake for 45 minutes, tossing in half of the oven. Let cool, then enjoy with yogurt, milk or sprinkle some cinnamon on your oatmeal.