Research Library

This scientific research is for informational use only. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Care/of provides this information as a service. This information should not be read to recommend or endorse any specific products.

Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. The origin of chia seeds is believed to be in Central America, and as early as 1500BC, chia seeds were consumed by Mayan and Aztec people. Flax seeds, also known as common flax or linseed, is a flowering plant, Linum usitatissimum, in the family Linaceae. It is cultivated as a food and fiber crop in regions of the world with temperate climates.

Known for their therapeutic qualities, chia and flax seeds are nutritionally dense sources of essential fatty acids and dietary fiber, which is vital for a healthy digestive system. Both are well-established nutrients for supporting heart health.

Supports heart health

Chia and flax contain two important nutrients to support heart health: essential fatty acids and dietary fiber. The connection between dietary fiber and heart health is well-established. The Institute of Medicine established adequate intake for fiber to support a healthy heart (1).

A review of nine major clinical studies reported that omega-3 fatty acid Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) levels are positively correlated with a healthy cardiovascular system. Additionally, the Lyon Diet Heart Study, supported the heart health benefits of adults eating a Mediterranean-type diet rich in ALA (2).

  1. 2020 – 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2020 – 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020

  2. The cardiovascular effects of flaxseed and its omega-3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid.

    Rodriguez-Leyca D, Bassett C, McCullough R, Pierce G, The Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 2010

Supports weight management

Research suggests that the addition of high quality fiber sources like chia and flax to your daily fiber intake can support weight management.

Dietary fiber consumption is believed to contribute to weight management. This may be in part due to the increased feelings of satiety that accompany a high fiber diet.

A study that looked at satiety and chia seeds, found that participants had increased feelings of fullness and significantly lower scores for hunger after consumption of chia seeds. The study found that participants reported significantly lower scores for hunger, prospective food consumption, amounts of food that could be consumed, desire for sugary foods, and higher scores for satiety on study days when 7g or 14g of chia seeds were consumed, as compared to the control group (1). A second study looked at both flax and chia seeds and found that compared to placebo, 25g chia reduced all satiety measurements (desire to eat, hunger, fullness, prospective consumption, overall appetite) and 31.5g ground flax reduced all satiety measures except prospective consumption (2).

Researchers also found that the amount of chia consumed could influence appetite ratings. Study participants consumed chia in high, medium, and low amounts (24g, 15g, 7g, respectively). Study findings indicated that the effects on reducing appetite ratings appeared dose-dependent with the high dose (24g) reducing appetite after 60, 90 and 120 minutes, medium dose (15g) after 90 and 120 minutes and low dose (7g) after 120 minutes.

A 2012 meta-analysis found that individuals with increased dietary fiber and whole grain consumption showed a reduction in weight gain over time (4).

  1. Chia seed (Salvia Hispanica L.) added yogurt reduces short-term food intake and increases satiety: randomised, controlled trial

    Ayaz A, Akyol A, Inan-Eroglu E, Kabasakal A., N Research and Practice, 2017

  2. Comparison of flax (Linum usitatissimum) and Salba-chia (Salvia hispanica L.) seeds on postprandial glycemia and satiety in healthy individuals: a randomized, controlled, crossover study.

    Vuksan V, Choleva L, Jovanovski E, Jenkins A et al., EJCN, 2017

  3. Reduction in postprandial glucose excursion and prolongation of satiety: possible explanation of the long-term effects of whole grain Salvia Hispanica L.

    Vuksan V, Jenkins A, Dias A, Lee A et al., EJCN, 2010

  4. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber

    Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, JAND, 2015

Supports digestive health

Both chia and flax are considered high fiber foods, and dietary fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system. Fiber supports the digestive system by increasing fecal bulk, increasing stool frequency, and reducing intestinal transit time. Additionally, as dietary fiber is a key substrate for the gut microbiota, alteration of dietary fiber intake can have an immediate and direct impact on the gut microbial population (1).

  1. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber

    Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, JAND, 2015

Provides critical nutrients

Well planned vegan and vegetarian diets are known to be health promoting, however, it’s important to be aware of inadequacies if nutrient dense choices aren’t made.

One area of concern is omega-3 fatty acid consumption. Dietary intakes of long-chain fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are lower in those consuming a vegetarian diet and essentially absent in those consuming a vegan diet. To ensure adequate omega-3 levels, it is vital to consume plant sources that are rich in these nutrients. Flax and chia are two of the most concentrated plant sources of Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid from which EPA and DHA are endogenously synthesized. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) suggests that the omega-3 needs of healthy individuals can be sufficiently met through ALA entirely (1).

Similar to the AND’s position, the position of the Italian Society of Human Nutrition is that those consuming a vegetarian diet should regularly consume good sources of ALA such as flax seeds and chia (2).

  1. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets

    Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, JAND, 2015

  2. Position paper on vegetarian diets from the working group of the Italian Society of Human Nutrition

    Agnoli C, Baroni L, Bertini I, CIappellano S et al., Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, 2017