Chia versus Flax: Which Wins?

By Barrie Rogers, Debbie Dooly

Flaxseeds are great seeds to add to your diet — they’re very high in the all-important omega-3s that everyone needs more of and chia is often compared to flax because it has similar amounts of omega 3 and some other nutrients. But chia has the edge. Here’s why:

  • Chia is full of antioxidants where flax has only trace levels of antioxidants.

  • Chia beats flax in terms of fiber, calcium, and selenium. Flax beats chia in terms of magnesium and potassium.

  • Chia has less fat and fewer calories than flax.

  • Chia is hydrophilic, and flax is not.

  • Chia is bioavailable, and flax is not. You don’t need to grind chia seeds — your body is capable of digesting its soft shell and absorbing the nutrients. Flax has a hard, indigestible shell and it needs to be ground down before you eat it in order for your body to be able to absorb the nutrients.

  • Chia has a longer shelf life than flax. Chia’s shelf life is up to five years after it’s harvested. Flax has a shelf life of a maximum of two years after it’s harvested, but usually flax is ground to release its nutrients, and ground flaxseeds typically last around 6 to 16 weeks if stored correctly.

  • Chia is pretty much taste-free, which means you can add it to a variety of foods and recipes to boost the nutrient profile. Flax has a distinctive taste that some people just don’t like, and because it has a taste, you can’t add it to other recipes without altering the taste.

All in all, chia is the hands-down winner when it comes to packing a nutritional punch. No wonder the tiny seed is replacing flax in many people’s diets!