nutrition

Chia Seeds vs Flax Seeds for Weight Loss & Management: How to Choose

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

5 min read

Chia seeds and flax seeds are great sources of fiber and can help you feel full. They can be a part of a healthy weight management strategy.

Fiber and Weight Management

Weight management is an individual adventure. The most important thing is for you to figure out a healthy weight for you, consistent with your overall health goals.

When it comes to weight management, there are many different strategies you can adopt. One of the most significant steps you can take is to make some slight dietary adjustments. Eating more fiber, for example, can help you feel more full after a meal.

While the recommended daily intake of fiber is 25 grams for women per day and 38 grams for men per day, the average American adult gets less than half of the recommended level. Still, fiber is available in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts and seeds.

Examples of seeds that are both good sources of fiber and potentially helpful for weight management are chia seeds and flax seeds. Chia and flax are both very popular, and you’ll often see them packaged together. But what are these seeds and which is more effective at supporting your healthy weight goals?

What are chia seeds?

Chia seeds are oval-shaped seeds that come from the Salvia hispanica plant, which is more commonly called the “chia plant.” You’ll typically buy them whole, and can choose between black chia seeds and white chia seeds. They’re native to Mexico and Guatemala and have been used as food for thousands of years.

What are flax seeds?

Flax seeds don’t look the same as chia seeds, so they’re easy enough to tell apart. They’re a little bigger, are generally brown or golden, and likely originate in the Middle East. You can buy them ground or whole. When it comes to taste, flax seeds have a nuttier flavor.

Nutritional differences

Chia seeds and flax seeds are both nutritious and promote a variety of health benefits.

Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They’re also rich in ash, carbohydrates, and dietary fiber. You can read a full breakdown on chia seed nutrients on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website.

Flax seeds are a great source of omega-6 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber. As with chia seeds, you can read a full breakdown of flax seeds nutrients on the USDA website.

Health benefits

Chia seeds and flax seeds boast a range of important health benefits.

Both chia seeds and flax seeds are good for promoting heart health, lowering blood sugar levels, and boosting feelings of satiety, which helps with weight management in healthy individuals. Flax seeds are a good source of phosphorus, while chia seeds are a good source of calcium. Both are good sources of magnesium, and both have antioxidant properties, making them potentially useful for remedying oxidative stress in the body.

Is one better than the other?

When it comes to increasing feelings of satiety, chia seeds and flax seeds are both considered effective, since they’re both excellent sources of fiber.

That said, they contain different levels of soluble fiber, which has implications for how well they control your appetite. Soluble fiber is especially effective when it comes to promoting feelings of fullness after a meal. Soluble fiber also triggers hormones thought to control hunger.

Since roughly a third of the fiber in flax seeds is soluble, while only 7 to 15% of the total fiber in chia seeds is soluble, it’s possible that flax seeds are a little more effective at supporting weight management.

On the other hand, chia seeds have the ability to convert glucose into a slow-release carbohydrate – and through this process, chia seeds may affect satiety to a greater extent than flax seeds do.

The truth is that you can’t go wrong with either, and you probably want to combine the two. The Care/of Chia-Flax supplement, for example, supports heart health, digestive health, and weight management.

Potential health risks

Chia seeds and flax seeds are generally safe to eat. Eating too much without proper hydration can sometimes result in digestive issues. Potential symptoms can present as brief periods of gas, bloating, or temporary changes in bowel movements. It is always best practice to start with small quantities and gradually increase fiber intake over time. Talk to a medical professional if you have any questions about whether chia seeds and flax seeds are consistent with your overall health goals.

How to eat chia and flax seeds

One of the best things about flax and chia seeds is that you can add them to just about whatever you can think of. You can sprinkle them on yogurt or oatmeal. You can work them into a protein shake or a smoothie. You can add them to baked goods. You can use them to thicken sauces or as egg substitutes in some recipes.

In terms of the amount you should eat, many of the benefits mentioned above were achieved with 10 to 20 grams of chia and flax per day.

It’s not unusual to eat chia seeds whole. That said, the nutrients in the seeds tend to be better absorbed when the seeds are ground. You can also eat flax seeds whole, but eating them ground does wonders for absorption of their nutrients.

Store your chia and flax in the fridge or freezer to prevent them from going bad; they have high fat content. To be safe, you should eat them pretty soon after buying them.

Final takeaways

Your weight management journey is all about what’s healthy for you. Eating foods high in fiber can promote feelings of satiety and control your appetite. Chia seeds and flax seeds are both great sources of fiber. In addition to promoting satiety and helping with weight management, they both boast a range of other health benefits. They’re also easy to add to a variety of tasty food and drinks. The Care/of Chia-Flax blend tastes great in a smoothie or sprinkled on yogurt.

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