Flaxseeds And Chia Seeds


Recently, flaxseeds and chia seeds have been classified as superfoods, as they contain a lot of nutrients. These two seeds may have an effect on keeping the heart healthy, protecting against cancer, and reducing blood sugar. 

About flaxseeds and chia seeds

Flaxseeds come from flax plants (Linum usitatissimum). This plant grows two feet tall and is native to Egypt, although it is now cultivated worldwide.1 Flaxseeds contain beneficial nutrients such as protein, fibre, and omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds have a nutty flavour with a crispy/crunchy texture 2 It is commonly added to seeded brown bread. 

Chia seeds are produced from a desert plant called Salvia Hispanica. This plant is a member of the mint plant family.3 Chia seeds are very nutritious and were a popular staple in the ancient Aztec and Maya diets.4 Chia seeds are crunchy; however, when they come into contact with wet or water-based foods, they transform into a jelly-like texture. A popular dish is chia pudding.

The nutrition we can get

Flaxseeds have various nutrients. It is high in fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytochemicals (lignans). Ground flaxseeds may be better to eat, as whole flaxseeds can pass through the digestive system without being digested. One tablespoon of ground flaxseeds have polyunsaturated fatty acids and dietary fibre. 5  

Chia seeds may be smal, but are packed with nutrients such as antioxidants, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and fibre. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain protein, alpha-linolenic acid, fibre (9.8g), calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins B1 and B3.

The below figure demonstrates the nutrients that both flaxseeds and chia seeds contain: 6

Macronutrient or MicronutrientFlaxseedsChia seeds
Carbohydrates8 grams12 grams
Fibre8 grams10 grams
Protein5 grams5 grams
Fat12 grams9 grams
Thiamine38% of DV15% of DV
Phosphorous5% of DV5% of DV
Magnesium26% of DV23% of DV
Iron9% of DV12% of DV
Zinc11% of DV12% of DV
Selenium13% of DV28% of DV
Calcium6% of DV14% of DV
Potassium5% of DV2% of DV

Health benefits

In general, flaxseeds are used to improve digestive health and to help with constipation. Flaxseeds have been shown to contain the nutrient alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is primarily found in plant foods. ALA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that was found useful for heart health. ALA is a scarce nutrient that our body does not produce, so we have to obtain it from the food we eat.2 

Research has shown that the ALA in flaxseeds and chia seeds can help reduce inflammation and prevent cholesterol from being deposited into blood vessels.7  Similarly, another study demonstrated that increased ALA intake leads to a decrease in cholesterol levels. 8

Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants which reduce inflammation.9 Chia seeds also contain specific antioxidants that protect your heart and liver and also keep you healthy by targeting free radicals that damage cell compounds.  

However, the health benefits from flaxseed cannot be conclusively established. Research has deemed that flax may contribute to reducing the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and lung disease. Additionally, flaxseeds also contain lignans. Lignans have been stated to protect against cancers. Flaxseeds were also found to have ALA that can inhibit tumour growth.10   

Similarities and differences

  • Both can lower the risk of heart disease due to their omega-3 fatty acids properties
  • Both have been identified to lower blood sugar. Flaxseeds and chia seeds contain a good amount of fibre11

Fibre can reduce blood sugar spikes and therefore provide stability in blood sugar levels. Studies have linked the consummation of both seeds to this protective factor. In 2011, it was found that people with type 2 diabetes who consumed two tablespoons of flax seed powder reduced fasting blood sugar by 8-20% within 1 to 2 months.12

On the other hand, it has been shown in animal studies that chia seeds help stabilise blood sugar levels. 

In comparison to chia seeds, flaxseeds were shown to be slightly more effective in reducing the risk of certain cancers. Both seeds contain fibre. This nutrient is generally associated with a lower risk of certain cancers. Both seeds are linked to a reduced likelihood of developing colon or breast cancer.13

Both seeds are made of antioxidants, which helps your body by reducing the free radicals present. They also reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Which is more nutritious between the two?

Both flaxseeds and chia seeds have similar amounts of nutrients. Flaxseeds may be slightly more effective in the protective factors against cancer. Additionally, it helps with reducing hunger and appetite to prevent overeating. Both seeds are really good for digestion.

Can you eat them at the same time?

Both seeds can be easily incorporated in your diet. There are more benefits to consuming the seeds ground rather than whole. This is because the whole seed can pass through the digestive system undigested. Hence, eating the seeds ground increases the chances of absorption. When storing the seed to keep them fresh, it is important to store them in a cold and dry place.

You can eat both of the seeds together as they are very beneficial to the body and provide a lot of nutrients.


Chia and flax seeds are both very nutritious. Both also contain benefits for heart health, blood sugar levels, and digestion. This is why both of them are classed as a superfood.

However, flax seeds were shown to have slightly more of an effect on reducing the risk of cancer. Flax seeds are more easily available and are less expensive compared to Chia seeds.

The differences between the two seeds are quite small. Either way, both seeds would be good for your diet and pack a lot of nutrients useful for the body.


  1. What is flaxseed? Nutrition, health benefits, types, and how to eat [Internet]. EverydayHealth.com. [cited 2023 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet/flaxseed-what-superfood-offers-how-add-it-your-diet/
  2. Flaxseed: 9 health benefits and how to eat [Internet]. Healthline. 2022 [cited 2023 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-flaxseeds
  3. What are chia seeds? [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.eatright.org/food/food-groups/fats/what-are-chia-seeds
  4. 7 health benefits of chia seeds [Internet]. Healthline. 2022 [cited 2023 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds
  5. Why buy ground flaxseed? [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. [cited 2023 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/flaxseed/faq-20058354
  6. Chia seeds vs. Flax seeds — is one healthier than the other? [Internet]. Healthline. 2022 [cited 2023 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chia-vs-flax
  7. Kajla P, Sharma A, Sood DR. Flaxseed—a potential functional food source. J Food Sci Technol [Internet]. 2015 Apr [cited 2023 Jan 12];52(4):1857–71. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375225/
  8. Xu B, Xu Z, Xu D, Tan X. Effect of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on ischemic heart disease and cardiometabolic risk factors: a two-sample Mendelian randomization study. BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2021 Nov 8;21(1):532.
  9. Ullah R, Nadeem M, Khalique A, Imran M, Mehmood S, Javid A, et al. Nutritional and therapeutic perspectives of Chia (Salvia hispanica L.): a review. J Food Sci Technol [Internet]. 2016 Apr [cited 2023 Jan 12];53(4):1750–8. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4926888/
  10. Magee E, MPH, RD. The benefits of flaxseed [Internet]. WebMD. [cited 2023 Jan 12]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed
  11. McRae MP. Dietary fiber intake and type 2 diabetes mellitus: an umbrella review of meta-analyses. J Chiropr Med [Internet]. 2018 Mar [cited 2023 Jan 12];17(1):44–53. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5883628/
  12. Mani UV, Mani I, Biswas M, Kumar SN. An open-label study on the effect of flax seed powder (Linum usitatissimum) supplementation in the management of diabetes mellitus. J Diet Suppl. 2011 Sep;8(3):257–65.
  13. Kunzmann AT, Coleman HG, Huang WY, Kitahara CM, Cantwell MM, Berndt SI. Dietary fiber intake and risk of colorectal cancer and incident and recurrent adenoma in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Oct;102(4):881–90.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Jolanda Roberts

Masters of Science- MSc Psychological Therapies in Mental Health, Queen Mary University of London
Bachelor of Science- BSc Psychology with Neuroscience

Jolanda is currently an Assistant Psychologist within the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. She has built a plethora of skills within research, hospitals and community settings. She is dedicated to spreading Mental Health Awareness among people from all backgrounds and is knowledgeable in applying theoretical concepts to real-life scenarios. In the future, Jolanda aspires to qualify as a Clinical Psychologist and provide the best holistic care to meet individual needs in a compassion-driven way.

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