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Nutrition Tips

Chia Seed vs. Flax Seed: Is one superior?

Submitted by: Marilyn Gordon, Ed.D., RD, CSSD, LDN
Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist

Ground flax seed has long been a popular additive to your yogurt, cereal, baked goods, and salads to help you reap the fiber and Omega 3 fatty acid benefits. Now, Chia Seed is gaining more attention, and you are wondering if there is a difference or a nutritional advantage.

If you are old enough, you remember the Chia Pet. This popular gift used chia seed to grow “hair” on a pottery piece, usually shaped in the form of an animal (mine was a cat). After moistening the chia seed, it was applied to the outside of the pottery and within a day or so, your pet had grown “hair,” green hair at that. They were great fun but no one ever thought about eating the seed.

Today the Chia Seed is quickly overtaking Flax Seed in popularity. Both seeds are known for providing fiber (both soluble and insoluble) so they help with constipation but also assist with lowering cholesterol. They are also quite unique in providing a plant source of Omega 3 fats (Alpha-Linolenic Acid). We use these heart healthy fats to reduce inflammation in the body and also to promote brain health.

The online USDA SuperTracker program was used to obtain the nutrient values. The comparison chart below highlights the similarities and differences between Chia and Flax. Chia appears to be superior in terms of fiber, calcium, and phosphorus. Otherwise, both Chia and Flax are fairly similar.

Serving Size: 1 Tbsp.

Chia Seed

Flax Seed

Calories

69

48

Protein

2 gm

2 gm

Fiber

5 gm

2 gm

Alpha-Linolenic Acid

2.5 gm

2.1 gm

Calcium

89 mg

23 mg

Potassium

58 mg

74 mg

Copper

131 µg

111 µg

Magnesium

47 mg

36 mg

Phosphorus

122 mg

58 mg

Iron

1 mg

1 mg

As always, taste and tolerance are important factors to consider. Flax Seed does have to be ground to obtain the maximum benefits whereas Chia Seed does not. Begin to experiment with Chia by adding it to your smoothies, yogurts, Kefir, baked goods, cereals, and salads.

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