Nuts and seeds can be a good addition to a healthy diet. In fact, nuts and seeds are plant foods with many useful nutrients. Recently, I have had folks asking questions about flax and chia seeds. Looking at the labels you can see how similar they are in fat and protein content.
Comparisons created at www.calorieking.com
These seeds do have few differences, as you will see.
FIBER: Flax seeds are lower in fiber than chia seeds. If you lack high fiber foods in your diet, then adding in chia over flax will give you a little extra fiber punch. Research suggests that higher fiber intake is associated with better weight maintenance and may lower risks of developing diabetes. One important fact to know is that grinding flax seed or purchasing it already milled will help make it easier for your body to absorb its nutrients, yet many recipes use them whole. Chia seeds can be eaten whole with no grinding needed, they become gelatinous when added to liquids and expand slightly in foods and drinks.
Lignan is a type of phytochemical that is a naturally occurring property found in many high fiber foods such as flax and chia seeds. Research suggests that lignans may help reduce the risk of some cancers.
OMEGA 3: Both flax and chia seeds contain fats that break down into omega-3 in the body. We normally get omega 3’s from walnuts and fish/seafood. Omega 3’s play a role in heart health. If you are not a big fish eater than these seeds are a great add-in with heart healthy benefits.
Protein: As you can see from the label both these protein-packed seeds can help support your daily protein intake. Chia is a complete protein, which contains all 20 essential amino acids. Amino acids are tiny units that create the structure of a protein. Most often, complete proteins come from animal-based foods. This is a great add-in for those that do not eat meat or animal products as a way to take in added amino acids.
Vitamins and Minerals: Adding in seeds from flax and chia can increase intake of calcium, B vitamins and manganese.
Looking for seeds on campus?
Look at salad bars with added seeds, nuts, and beans for added protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Our Sam’s Place Markets provide an array of pre-packaged nuts and seeds.
How can you use nuts and seeds in cooking?
Chia and flax both go well in smoothies, toppings for yogurts, on salads, in specialty breads, muffins, pancakes, and in hot cereals. Did you know you could create your own egg substitute for cooking? This method is common in many vegan recipes. You can use either flax or chia seeds in recipes. Honestly, it is your preference.
Granola Medallions (Wheat and Dairy Free)
(Adapted from Today’s Parent ‘Picky Eater’ Guide Homemade Granola Coins)
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup large flaked-oats
- 2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup cranberries
- 1 tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 tbsp. whole flax seeds
- ½ tsp cinnamon
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients and stir until fully combined. Separate into 12 muffin tin cups. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes. Muffins should brown and pull away from the tin. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then remove from pan, and rest on cooling racks.
Websites for more information:
Hospitality Dietitian: Mindy Diller, MS, RDN, LD : firstname.lastname@example.org