Flax and Chia both provide optimal amounts of Omega-3s when eaten daily. Most of us know that Omega-3s are essential fatty acids — every cell in our body needs them to function properly, yet our bodies do not make them. The same is true with Omega-6s, however, the Standard American Diet is disproportionally high in Omega-6’s. The goal is to have a 1:1 ratio of these two Omegas. By adding flax or chia to our diets (which are higher in Omega-3s) we can begin to regain balance and reap the health benefits. This does take time and consistency. In order to raise the levels of Omega-3s in your cells, you will need to eat 2 tablespoons of either seed every day for a least a month to see and feel the benefits (which may include: lowering cholesterol, weight loss, more energy, decreased inflammation, balanced blood sugar, improved sleep and regularity).
From what I know about chia seeds, each strain contains different amounts of Omega-3s, protein and fiber. Therefore, depending on the brand you buy, the nutrients can vary greatly. Mila offers a blend of four seeds with the highest combined nutrients.
This chart is helpful for an overall comparison of the nutrients in flax versus chia and shows that: flax has B Vitamins, is higher in omega-3’s, potassium and slightly higher in zinc. Chia is rich in Vitamin A, is significantly higher in fiber, lower in fat, has no sugars, is much higher in calcium, iron and phosphorous. Chia is slightly higher in protein.
The biggest draw backs I find with flax are that: it needs to ground in order obtain the nutrients because the hull of the seed can not be broken down by our bodies, and, once flax is ground it needs to be consumed quickly because it oxidizes and goes rancid. On the other hand, chia is so high in antioxidants that this is not an issue. The ideal way to consume flax, is buying it in bulk (whole) and grinding at home.
Here is what Dr. Andrew Weil says about chia:
Another advantage: when added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia forms a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar.
Chia has a nutlike flavor. You can mix seeds in water and add lime or lemon juice and sugar to make a drink known in Mexico and Central America as “chia fresca.” As with ground flax seeds, you can sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on cereal, in yogurt or salads, eat them as a snack, or grind them and mix them with flour when making muffins or other baked goods. I find them tasty and an interesting addition to my diet.
In conclusion, chia seems to offer more advantages and I couldn’t find any drawbacks. But, ultimately the goal is to increase Omega-3s so if you love flax and aren’t ready to switch, stick with it.