Duking it out: Chia Seed vs. Flax Seed – Jill Sung

31 Mar

What seed am I?

Metta came back from Expo West natural trade show with promises of improving our nutritional health and renewed vigor to turn a “pretty healthy” diet into “Healthy!” One of the healthy additives that she’s been raving about is Chia seeds, which I’ve been eyeing at the health food stores with a personal interest to try once my flaxseeds are used up. I currently add a tablespoonish of golden flaxseeds (I heard, though unconfirmed, that golden has more vitamins than red) to my almost daily smoothie. I experiment a bit, but it’s more a healthy smoothie of convenience consisting of Scobie Bryant’s (my Kombucha’s nickname) miracle tea, an apple (skin included), frozen berries if no other fresh fruits of the season are gracing my kitchen, yogurt/milk if available and it cuts the light vinegar taste of the Kombucha, and that tablespoonish of flaxseeds. But let’s get back into the ring…

FLAX SEEDS: high in Omega-3 fatty acids, lignans and antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber, minerals: folate, manganese, magnesium, copper, etc.

I use whole flaxseeds because they can be stored up to a year whereas flaxseed meal can only last up to a week at room temperature because the unsaturated oils can go rancid easily. But I grind the flaxseeds before using them because that releases the goodies. Toasting flaxseeds is helpful too because it breaks down the small amounts of natural cyanide in them (also found in cashews and some beans). And according to US agencies and research, the recommended safe dose is anywhere from 2-6 tabespoons a day. Just don’t go overboard as both of these are high in fiber! If you’re a fan of the oil, just remember it does not contain the phytochemical antioxidants or the fiber.

CHIA SEEDS: high in soluble fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, minerals: potassium, calcium, amino acids

The soluble fiber in gluten-free chia seeds is so evident that if you mix up a cup of water and tablespoon of powder, you can get a  gel in half an hour! That’s great for controlling food intake, carbohydrate to sugar absorption conversion, and diabetics where blood sugar level is particularly important. Plus chia seeds help keep you hydrated because they absorb water (a must for healthy skin and inner body health/healing). More than 20% protein, chia seeds are filled with a good mix of essential amino acids that your body doesn’t naturally make. Recommended dosage varies, but 3 tablespoons, 3 times a day is commonly recommended. Excellent place to purchase online: http://salba.com

Incidentally, a great website for checking out nutrition data is http://www.nutritiondata.com. It covers everything and has useful tables and comparisons.

So the winner? Undeclared. After researching both of these, I’d love to incorporate both; they serve different purposes and complement each other well. So my future smoothies will have both… It’s a win win for everyone.

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