Chia Seeds Vs. Flax Seeds: Differences & How to Use

Reviewed by Elizabeth Gonzalez Cueto, MD

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chia seeds vs flax seeds

Chia seeds and flax seeds are both tiny, fiber-packed seeds, making them ideal choices to bulk up the fiber in the diet. These tiny seeds are easily added and sprinkled into smoothies, oatmeal, salads, and other dishes. In addition to fiber, both chia and flax seeds offer essential omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other nutrients. Let’s look at more of their traits, including what sets them apart.

Chia Seeds Vs. Flax Seeds: What Are The Differences?

Chia seeds are tiny oval seeds, which come in black, brown, and white colors. Flax seeds are brown, almond-shaped, slightly bigger, but still very small. Flax seeds are not well-absorbed in the body when ingested whole, so many people around or buy them pre-ground. Chia seeds have slightly more calories, fiber, fat, and protein than flax seeds, however, both are excellent sources of nutrients, and both can offer similar health benefits.

chia seeds vs flax seeds

What Are Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds are small, oval-shaped seeds that come from the Salvia hispanica plant in the mint family, which grows natively in parts of central and southern Mexico. Chia seeds are one of the smallest existing seeds (measuring about two millimeters) and have been said to be part of the ancient Aztecs’ diet. Within their tiny frame, chia seeds offer a substantial amount of protein, omega-3, and fiber, as well as iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium. Chia seeds are easy to add to any meal because they are relatively tasteless.

What Are Flax Seeds?

Also called linseeds, are native to the Middle East and are also very small–but not as small as chia seeds. Flax seeds are almond-shaped seeds, which contain many phytonutrients, including fiber, various minerals, as well as essential fats and protein. Flax seeds have been touted for improving many health conditions, thanks to their dense nutrient profile. Flaxseeds help to spruce up salads and oatmeal thanks to their earthy, nutty[1] flavor.

Flax Seeds Vs. Chia Seeds: Significant Features

Nutritional Content

Ounce for ounce, let’s compare flax seeds to chia seeds. In two tablespoons[2] of seeds, you get:


11 grams of fiber (chia)/4.2 grams of fiber (flax)


7 grams of fat (chia)/6.3 grams of fat (flax)


4.4 grams of protein (chia)/2.76 grams of protein (flax)


140 calories (chia)/78 calories (flax)

Additionally, chia seeds contain 18% of the daily recommended amount of calcium, as well as contain other minerals, such as copper, magnesium, zinc, and potassium, and are a good source of omega-3’s. Flax seeds contain similar minerals and are also a good source of folate. In fact, though it would appear that there are higher amounts of nutrients in chia seeds, this does not necessarily mean that flax seeds are any less healthy – it just depends on what your body needs.

Benefits of Flax Seeds Vs. Chia Seeds

Protect Against Certain Cancers 

Fiber has been linked to reduced risk of cancer in several ways, and the insoluble fiber in both chia and flax seeds in particular may be beneficial in protecting against breast and colon cancer. In addition to fiber, chia and flax seeds are filled with antioxidants, powerful fighters against free radicals which damage cells–the type of damage that leads to premature aging and disease development. Flax seeds are particularly high in these antioxidants, which makes them beneficial for protecting against certain cancers.

Help Lower Risk for Heart Disease

Omega-3’s are great for the heart, and good sources of them are flax and chia seeds. In particular, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is a type of omega-3 fat which comes from plants, rather than animals, and both chia and flax seeds have ALA. This type of fat is especially important to consume because, unlike other vitamins and minerals, the body is unable to make it on its own – it needs to come from your diet. The ALAs in chia and flax seeds have been correlated with a lowered risk of heart disease, and it’s been shown that these seeds can also help to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, which, if too high, could pose a risk for heart disease.

Help Lower Blood Sugar

Fiber is the key word in all things health, and that includes blood sugar stabilization. Both chia and flax seeds come packed with fiber, which allows sugar to be absorbed more slowly in the body, leading to less blood sugar spikes, and less excess glucose floating around in the bloodstream. For this reason, it’s encouraged to never eat carbs, sugar, or fruit alone, but rather, to pair them with a source of fiber. So, be liberal with your seeds – add them to yogurt, oatmeal, and anything else you can think of!

Curb Hunger and Appetite

It’s no surprise, fiber is non-negotiable when it comes to maintaining satiety, thereby reducing appetite, cravings, and excessive snacking. Both chia seeds and flax seeds have lots of fiber which help curb hunger and cravings. Flax seeds tend to have a little more soluble fiber[3], a type of fiber that gets “sticky” when mixed with water. This sticky fiber helps to slow digestion, leaving you feeling fuller for longer. 

Improve Digestion

The soluble fiber in both chia and flax seeds make a sticky, gel-like consistency when mixed with water in the digestive process, which not only helps with satiety, but also can help relieve constipation[4]. Regular elimination is necessary for healthy digestion. Additionally, both seeds help to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome. 

Improve Brain Health

Anything in the nut and seed family is known as a “brain food” due to their cognitive-boosting nutrients. The omega-3’s in flax and chia seeds do wonders to curb inflammation and reduce stress, including inflammation in the brain. In fact, certain mental health[5] conditions, such as ADHD, depression, and others have been linked to deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids. The fiber, folic acid, vitamin B6, and other nutrients in the seeds serve to further assist in better brain function.

Chia Seeds Vs. Flax Seeds: How To Use & Eat

Ground The Seeds

Chia seeds can be eaten whole, however flax seeds should be ground in order for the body to digest them properly and extract the nutrients. To do this, put the seeds in a coffee grinder and then sprinkle the ground seeds into whatever dish you choose. You can also purchase them pre-ground.

Sprinkle in Oatmeal

Nothing livens up the taste and texture of oatmeal more than seeds! Next time you’re making your morning bowl of oatmeal, consider sprinkling in some flax seeds, chia seeds, or both!

Add to Smoothies

If you don’t like the taste of seeds but want the health benefits, try adding them to a smoothie. Just throw the seeds in the smoothie, blend, and you won’t even know they’re in there!

Sprinkle on Salad

Need a little crunch to your salad? Skip the croutons and add some seeds instead.

Make Chia Seed Pudding

Mix one tablespoon of chia seeds with one cup of plant milk (oat, almond, cashew, rice, etc.) and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. It will turn gelatinous and creamy. From there, add whatever fruit and seasoning you like!

Make Chia Seed Water

Boosts your fiber and hydration in one go! Add a spoonful of chia seeds to a bottle or glass of filtered water. This will allow you to get all the benefits from the seeds, while also getting the necessary hydration to go with a fiber increase. 


Both chia and flax seeds provide similar nutrients and health benefits, even though they come from different plants grown in different regions around the world. Depending on your personal health goals, you may find chia seeds more healthful than flax, or vice versa. Regardless of which you prefer or need, they’re both easily assimilated into most diets and are well tolerated by many people.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is healthier? Chia or flax seeds?

They are both healthy and each provide similar amounts of nutrients, however, you may want to incorporate one more than the other depending on which nutrient you’re looking to focus on specifically. The question is really, which one is healthier for you?

Do I have to ground both chia and flax seeds?

No, chia seeds can be eaten whole, while flax seeds should be ground.

What if I don’t like the taste of chia or flax seeds?

It’s hard not to like the taste of chia seeds because they are relatively tasteless. However, flax seeds have a nuttier flavor that some people may not like. If this is the case, try sprinkling a little into oatmeal or a smoothie where the taste will be covered by the other ingredients. 

+ 5 sources

MIDSS adheres to strict procurement guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutes, and medical associations. We work mainly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure the accuracy of the information. We avoid the use of tertiary references. You can read about how we ensure the accuracy and timeliness of our content in our editorial process.

  1. Syn, M. (2023). Chia Seeds vs. Flaxseeds: Which One Is Better? (+ Noatmeal Recipe). [online] Available at:
  2. Livingston, M. (2018). Black Bean Brownie Recipe That’s Healthy & Delicious | Alt-Baking Bootcamp | Well+Good. [online] Well+Good. Available at:
  3. Petre, A. (2022). Chia Seeds vs. Flax Seeds — Is One Healthier Than the Other? [online] Healthline. Available at:
  4. Axe, D. (2019). Chia Seeds vs Flax Seeds: Which Is Healthier? – Dr. Axe. [online] Dr. Axe. Available at:
  5. amanda (2019). 7 Nuts and Seeds That Are Healthy Brain Fuel | Institute for Functional Health. [online] Institute for Functional Health. Available at:


Heather Freudenthal, Health Coach
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Wellness Writer
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Wellness Writer with a holistic and functional medicine/root cause mindset. My writing style is engaging, relatable, and educational, designed to help readers digest and relate to complex topics in nutrition, gut health, hormone health, mental health, and spiritual health, then inspire them to take action.


Elizabeth Gonzalez Cueto, MD
Medical Doctor & Medical Writer
My name is Elizabeth and I am a Medical Doctor (MBBS) with experience as a medical and research article writer, reviewer and proofreader. I have worked for the American Journal of Case Reports, the Medical Science Monitor, and Pacific Medical Training as a medical article reviewer and writer. Besides, I have worked as a medical interpreter and translator for Angel City research and SC3 Research group as a medical research assistant for several clinical trials. My academic background includes many international scientific environments like Oxford University, United Kingdom. Hannover Medical School, the University of Tours, France. the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico.

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