Flaxseed And Chia Seeds In Comparison

It is often said that you can simply eat flaxseed instead of expensive chia seeds. Is that correct? Or are there differences between chia seeds and flax seeds?

Chia seeds and flaxseed: the differences between the two superfoods

Chia seeds and flaxseed (linseed) are both seeds of annual plants. The chia plant belongs to the mint family, as dosage, as basil, lemon balm, and many other herbs. The common flax, on the other hand, has its own family: the flax family.

These are two completely different plants, which means that their seeds also have different properties and ingredients. For example, chia seeds taste very neutral and can therefore be used in many different ways, while linseed has a distinctly nutty taste. Of course, there are also similarities, such as the high-fat content.

Fat in the seeds

Both seeds belong to the oilseeds due to their high-fat content. So you can get oil from them. At around 30 percent, chia seeds contain significantly less fat than flax seeds (over 40 percent). Consequently, chia seeds are also slightly lower in calories (486 kcal) than flaxseed (534 kcal).

Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids

The fat of both seeds is also characterized by a high content of omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid), which is rather rare in the vegetable world. Chia seeds provide about 17 g of omega-3 fatty acids per 100 g, linseed even has 23 g. The omega-6 fatty acid content is similar in both at just under 6 g per 100 g.

To what extent is the conversion of short-chain alpha-linolenic acid into long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which are often described as more valuable, is relevant and what measures promote the conversion, read our article Covering omega-3 requirements (under “Conversion into long-chain omega-3 -fatty acids”).

Proteins in chia seeds and flaxseed

As usual with seeds, the protein content is high. It is 17 percent for chia seeds and 18 percent for linseed. For comparison: spelled contains 15 percent protein, pumpkin seeds 18 percent, and sunflower seeds 21 percent. The protein content of the two alleged superfoods chia and flaxseed are not above average, especially since you cannot eat too much of either.

Sunflower seeds, on the other hand, can be used to make wonderful burgers, so they are a much better source of protein than the one tablespoon of chia or flaxseed that you eat a day.

In the amino acid profile of the chia seeds, the rather high tryptophan content of 0.4 to 0.7 g per 100 g is noticeable. Tryptophan is the amino acid that is needed to produce the “happiness hormone” serotonin and is therefore necessary for creating a good mood and balance. But here, too, there are other seeds that can definitely keep up, e.g. B. Cashew nuts with 0.45 g and pumpkin seeds with 0.53 g. Linseed is also not to be underestimated at 0.41 g.


In the age of low-carb nutrition, everything that contains as much fat and protein as possible and at the same time a few carbohydrates is considered good and healthy, which is why flaxseed is also very popular with this type of nutrition. According to some nutritional tables, it contains a whopping 0 g of carbohydrates.

Other sources, however, give around 8g of carbohydrates (in the form of sucrose), and still others 1.5g.

Chia seeds contain around 8 g of digestible carbohydrates and are therefore not exactly high-carb.

Minerals and trace elements

There are clear differences in the minerals. Chia seeds provide around 600 mg of calcium, while flaxseed “only” contains 230 mg of the bone-strengthening mineral.

Chia seeds are also far ahead in terms of zinc, copper, and manganese. In the case of copper and manganese, their content is twice as high (0.9 and 2.7 mg) as in linseed, and in the case of zinc, it is even three times as high (4.5 mg).

With regard to magnesium (approx. 340 mg) and iron (approx. 8 mg), the values ​​in both seeds are similar.

Small amounts of vitamins

Vitamin A and vitamin C as well as vitamin K are only found in very small amounts in chia and flaxseed. Only vitamin E and B vitamins are contained in interesting doses.

Linseed contains 3 mg of vitamin E per 100 g, and chia seeds are only 0.5 mg.

Chia seeds provide twice as much vitamin B1 (0.6 mg). However, linseed contains more of the vitamins B2 and B6, namely three times as much (0.56 mg and 0.9 mg).

Secondary plant substances

Hardly any other food contains as many lignans as flaxseed (300 to 370 mg per 100 g). Lignans are phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They are also among the so-called phytoestrogens. They, therefore, have an estrogen-like effect and can therefore have a positive influence on estrogen dominance as well as help remedy an estrogen deficiency.

Lignans reduce the risk of breast cancer. Apparently, just 25 grams of ground flaxseed per day (taken with plenty of water) is enough to have a positive effect on health.

Chia seeds also contain lignans, but not quite as much as flaxseed, only about 100 mg per 100 g.

Dietary fiber in chia seeds vs. flaxseed

The colon-cleansing, detoxifying and digestive properties of chia seeds and flaxseeds are mainly due to their high fiber content and the nature of their fiber.

Both foods consist of about 35 percent dietary fiber – a balanced mix of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, which is rather rare in the food sector. The insoluble dietary fiber (e.g. cellulose) usually predominates, which can bind water very well, thereby increasing the stool mass, stimulating peristalsis, and thus promoting elimination, but at the same time also saturates well and cleanses the intestines.

The soluble dietary fibers (e.g. mucilage, pectin), on the other hand, mainly serve as food for the beneficial intestinal bacteria and show toxin-binding and intestinal mucosa-protecting properties.

A large part of the health-promoting effects of flaxseed and chia seeds can therefore also be attributed to this high fiber content, such as the protection against colon cancer and other intestinal diseases as well as against cardiovascular problems.

Flaxseed and Chia Seeds: Ground or Whole?

To get the fiber from both superfoods, you can eat them whole or ground.

However, if you also want to benefit from the “inner values” of the seeds, you should always eat flaxseed and chia seeds ground. Because if you eat the whole seed, it will be excreted relatively unchanged – including omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins – with the stool.

The seeds are always freshly ground before consumption – in a food processor or blender. We would advise against buying ground seeds, as the risk of oxidation of the valuable fats and vital substances during the days of storage could be too high.

Heavy metal pollution in flaxseed

Like poppy, sesame, and sunflower seeds, flaxseed is contaminated with cadmium (over 15 µg per 100 g seed). The limit for humans is 2.5 µg cadmium per kilogram of body weight and week, which means that e.g. For example, a person weighing 70 kilograms can absorb 175 µg of cadmium every week without suffering any damage to their health. This corresponds to 25 µg cadmium per day.

Sunflower seeds can contain levels of 20 to 60 µg cadmium per 100 g (up to 250 µg according to some sources). In linseed 30 µg and more cadmium.

A portion (10 g/1 tablespoons) of flaxseed contains an average of 3 µg cadmium so it is generally advised not to consume more than 20 g per day, since you eat other foods that could contain cadmium or other heavy metals or Also inhale cadmium, depending on the regional exposure.

The heavy metal is stored in the body – especially in the kidneys and liver – and is hardly broken down anymore. It can lead to long-term kidney damage but also damage to the immune system and bones. The latter is because cadmium causes calcium to be released from the bones and at the same time less calcium can be absorbed in the intestine.

However, if the body is well supplied with iron and calcium, not so much cadmium is absorbed. Therefore, if you pay attention to an adequate supply of minerals, you do not have to worry so much about cadmium exposure. Regular support of the body’s own detoxification capacities also contributes to the fact that cadmium cannot cause any damage to health.

Since cadmium i.a. gets into the soil via conventional fertilizers and from there into the linseed, organic food is also the better choice in this context.

Studies of chia seeds have shown that there is no significant contamination with heavy metals such as cadmium.

Origin: Linseed and chia seeds are increasingly coming from China

Incidentally, linseed does not have to be a regional foodstuff just because it can also thrive in our regions. Because if you look at the places of origin on some linseed packages, you will see that linseed tends to come from Italy or Hungary. Sometimes the packaging simply says “Europe”.

For linseed oil of the best organic quality, the linseed can even come from China, as the local harvest is often very scarce and the demand cannot even come close to being covered. If you want to buy regional linseed, it is best to go directly to the producer.

Chia seeds, on the other hand, come from South America and Africa but are also already cultivated in China. When buying both seeds, you should pay attention to organic quality.

Differences between flaxseed and chia seeds

So there are clear differences between chia seeds and flaxseed. However, if you only value the intestinal-friendly effect or the additional supply of alpha-linolenic acid, then you can exchange one for the other. When it comes to special vital substances or plant substances (lignans, calcium, etc.), then of course the respective food with the higher values is used.

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Written by Micah Stanley

Hi, I'm Micah. I am a creative Expert Freelance Dietitian Nutritionist with years of experience in counseling, recipe creation, nutrition, and content writing, product development.

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