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Navitas Organics Blog

Ask the Chef - Flax Seeds vs Chia Seeds

Posted by Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef on Apr 20, 2014 11:30:19 PM

Q: What is the difference between flaxseeds and chia seeds?

We certainly love both chia and flax, as some of our most favorite “mini-seeds.†They have many similarities, but some valuable differences as well!

Ever since flaxseeds burst onto the natural health scene, they've become increasingly popular in breakfast cereals, oatmeal, bread, and crackers. These seeds come from one of the oldest fiber crops in the world, known to be cultivated in Babylon, Egypt, and China as early as 3000 BC. Flaxseeds are best known for their impressively high omega-3 fat content. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one ounce of flaxseeds has about 4.7 grams of Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, which supports cardiovascular health, brain development, and good eyesight. Additionally, flaxseeds offer an excellent amount of phytochemicals known as lignans, which medical studies have shown may lower cholesterol, prevent hot flashes, improve blood sugar, and reduce the risk of cancer. And let's not forget flax's high-fiber boost, which is at almost 3 grams per tablespoon! Keep in mind that flaxseeds must be ground before eaten, since the human body is unable to digest the whole seeds and absorb its nutrients. To naturally boost your fiber and omega-3 fatty acid intake, try mixing Sprouted Flaxseed Powder into smoothies or as a partial substitute for flour and eggs in baking, or as a simple way to elevate the nutrition of soups, salads, and parfaits, for a delicious twist on tried-and-true favorites.

Like flaxseeds, Chia seeds are also extremely high in Omega 3's and dietary fiber which is why chia seeds aid cardiovascular function, digestion, colon detoxification, and bowel regularity. And though they don't contain lignans like flax, they do contain antioxidants to help protect these sensitive fats from oxidizing (making them a much more shelf stable food). In addition to an exceptional amount of iron and calcium, chia seeds contain 4.4 grams of protein per ounce, which is more protein than a serving of eggs and almost as much as a serving of meat. Unlike flaxseeds, chia's protein contains all of the essential amino acids making chia a complete protein source.

While chia does not have to be ground like flax, it can be enjoyed either way for different culinary applications. In fact, when mixed with water, chia seeds easily transform into a gel-like substance, which can be used as a substitute for oil, eggs, or butter in recipes. This “Chia seed gel†also has a way of making us feel fuller longer, which can help us stick to a healthy meal plan throughout the day. The flour-like consistency and neutral flavor of Sprouted Chia Seed Powder, which is made from sprouted chia seeds that are dried and milled into a fine blend, makes a perfect thickener for baked goods and smoothies.

As two seeds both wonderfully rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and fiber it's hard to chose which super-seed is “better†… and luckily we don't have to! Mix up your diet by incorporating both into your routine, and enjoy the new nutrition and endless creative kitchen endeavors!

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