Chia and flax seeds are nutritious seeds high in fiber, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Because of their potential health benefits, they are popular additions to smoothies, cereals, and salads.

Their small size and mild taste make them easy to combine with other foods.

The seeds contain high levels of fiber that can improve digestion. They may also aid in stabilizing blood sugar levels and decreasing a person’s risk of heart disease.

Chia seeds and flaxseeds have comparable nutritional values. Research has indicated links to significant health benefits; however, most of the research concerns flaxseeds rather than chia seeds.

Read more to learn about their nutritional content, potential health benefits, how to consume them, and more.

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Chia seeds originate in Mexico and Guatemala, and they were a staple crop in the Aztec diet. Recently, they have become more widely available across the world.

They are relatively bland in taste and come in black or white varieties.

Flaxseeds, also called linseeds, originate in the Middle East. However, Canada is currently the largest commercial producer of flax.

These seeds are flatter and larger than chia seeds, and they are usually a golden or brown color. They have a slightly nutty flavor and are available to purchase whole or ground.

Both chia and flax seeds have high nutritional value despite their small size.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), chia and flax seeds contain the following nutritional values. These figures represent a 10 gram (g) serving, or about 1 tablespoon of whole seeds

The nutritional values of chia and flax seeds are very similar. The values listed in the table below are identical.

Flax (10 g)Chia (10 g)
Carbohydrates2.9 g2.9 g
Protein1.8 g1.8 g
Fiber2.7 g2.7 g
Fat4.2 g4.2 g
Iron0.57 mg0.57 mg
Potassium81.3 mg81.3 mg
Calcium25.5 mg25.5 mg
Magnesium39.2 g39.2 mg
Zinc0.43 mg0.43 mg
Energy53.4 calories53.4 calories

Eating nutritious foods is essential for overall health. Some research has shown that flax and chia seeds also offer some of the following health benefits:

Improved digestion

Chia and flax seeds are high in fiber, which stimulates the digestive tract.

Specifically, they have associations with aiding regular bowel movements and relieving constipation. One randomized trial of people with type 2 diabetes who had constipation found that flax was superior to psyllium husk, a popular fiber supplement, in relieving constipation.

Learn more about psyllium here.

Stabilize blood sugar

Both seeds contain soluble fiber. This type of fiber turns into a gel when saturated with water and helps feed good bacteria in the gut. It also slows down the digestive process, which can help prevent blood sugar spikes after eating.

Learn more about blood sugar spikes here.

Reduced risk of heart disease

Because chia and flax seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, they may help reduce a person’s risk of heart disease.

Omega-3s exist in higher amounts in fatty fish, such as salmon and herring. As a plant source of fatty acids, chia and flax seeds contain alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which has antioxidant properties.

One 2018 study showed that consuming ALAs may slightly reduce heart attack risk and death from coronary events.

In animal studies, flax decreased the progression of atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of plaque in the arteries. However, more research is needed to confirm this link in humans.

Learn about some of the best food sources of omega-3 here.

Chia and flax seeds have proven health benefits and similar nutritional profiles.

People choosing to use seeds for constipation relief may prefer using flax. There is currently more research linking flaxseeds to constipation relief, such as in this study of type 2 diabetics.

Animal studies have also found links between flax and cancer prevention. While experimental studies found a diet high in flax had associations with limited tumor growth and spread, more research is needed.

There is no correct choice between chia and flax seeds as both provide fiber and a similar nutritional profile. People can choose the seeds they enjoy the most.

Flax and chia seeds are small in size and have a mild flavor that makes them a versatile addition to many meals. Storing them in the fridge extends their shelf life.

People can eat chia and flax seeds whole or ground. However, ground seeds are easier for the body to digest and may provide more nutrients than whole seeds.

Try adding whole or ground seeds to:

  • cereals
  • smoothies
  • yogurt
  • salads
  • oatmeal
  • rice dishes
  • soups and stews
  • pasta dishes
  • baked goods

Chia and flax seeds are rich in fiber and nutrient-dense. They have links to a range of health benefits, such as improved digestion, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and more stable blood sugar levels.

Although ground seeds are easier to digest and may provide more nutrients, people can also consume them whole or add them to smoothies, salads, cereals, and more.