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Dare to Compare: Chia Seeds versus Flax Seeds

Ever wonder what the difference is between these two tiny seeds?

What are they:

chia seeds
[Image source: Flickr]

Chia seeds are tiny white or black seeds that look like poppy seeds. They were first cultivated by the Aztec tribes in Mexico.

flax seed 2
[Image source: Flickr]

Flax seeds are flat, yellow or brown, oval shaped seeds that are about the size of a sesame seed. Brown flax seeds are grown right here in Canada, mainly in the western Prairies.


Nutrition and health benefits:

Chia seeds are filled with insoluble fibre. When mixed with water or fluids, chia seeds expand and swell to form a gel. Chia seeds are a source of heart-healthy plant-based omega-3 fats, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. When it comes to fibre, calcium and selenium, chia seeds win over flax seeds. (See comparison chart below.) Studies show many benefits to including chia seeds as part of a healthy diet, such as a reduction in blood cholesterol levels and the prevention of constipation.

Note: Chia seeds can thin your blood, as well as interact with medications and blood thinners such as Warfarin/Coumadin. If you are taking any types of these medications or any type of blood pressure medications, then please avoid chia seeds and talk to you doctor.

Flax seeds are hailed as a super source of plant-based omega-3 fats which is an important nutrient to help lower the risk of heart disease. With a similar nutrition profile to that of chia seeds, flax seeds are also a source of zinc and selenium, and a good source of magnesium. Flax seeds are one of the best food sources of lignans, which are a type of plant-based estrogen. Research suggests that these lignans may play a role in protecting against breast cancer.

chia vs flax chart BIGGER REV


How to include in a healthy diet:

Both chia seeds and flax seeds have a nutty flavour and can be easily added to your favourite dishes.

Chia seeds – Sprinkle into smoothies, cereal, yogurt, soups and salads. Try our yummy Chia Seed Pudding recipe or mix some chia seeds into muffin batter. Store chia seeds in a dark, cool place for a few months.

Flax seeds – Sprinkle over cereal or yogurt, or add them to pancake batter and meatballs. Whole flax seeds can be stored at room temperature for up to one year. Ground flax seeds are easier to digest. Grind your own flax seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor. Store ground flax seeds in an opaque container for up to three months.

Dietitian’s Tip: Enjoy a variety of foods and include chia seeds and/or flax seeds when you can. Leave us a comment and tell us how you love to use chia and flax!

Health Canada announces three new health claims

Health pic from Sue June 1, 2016

In May 2016, Health Canada announced three new health claims:

1. EPA & DHA and blood Triglyceride Lowering

2. & 3. Polysaccharide Complex (Glucomannan, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Alginate) and Blood Cholesterol Lowering and Reduction of the Post-Prandial Blood Glucose Response

Foods containing the healthy fats EPA and DHA (0.5 g combined) may now carry a new health claim stating their potential triglyceride-lowering benefits. For example, a permitted claim might read, “85 g (1/2 cup) of canned pink salmon supplies 40% of the daily amount of omega-3 EPA and DHA shown to help lower triglycerides.”

Aside from that primary statement, appropriate products can also carry the additional statement “EPA and DHA help reduce/lower triglycerides,” Read the detailed info here.

The food ingredient that is the subject of two new health claims is a soluble and viscous dietary fibre (polysaccharide complex of glucomannan, xanthan gum, sodium alginate) sold under the brand name PGX® (PolyGlycopleX®). Researchers studied the carbohydrate quality of foods with PGX using the glycemic response, glycemic index. The benefits of added fibre in the form of PGX helped help lower blood cholesterol and moderate the blood sugar rise after a meal. Sample claim: “The consumption of the 5 g of PGX® provided with 1 cup (30 g) of cereal helps reduce blood glucose rise after a meal containing carbohydrates.”
The summary of assessment is available online.

Please feel free to contact us with your questions on food labelling and claims.

Health Canada approves new health claim

Health Canada has recently permitted a new health claim linking the consumption of psyllium fibre to a reduction of blood cholesterol.   A sample claim is: “Psyllium fibre helps lower cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. 1 cup (30 g) of Brand X cereal with psyllium supplies 50% of the daily amount of fibre shown to help lower cholesterol.”  The “daily amount” is 7 g of psyllium fibre. To make this claim, the food must contain at least 1.75 g of psyllium soluble fibre per serving size as well as meet other specific nutrient criteria.

According to Health Canada, increased psyllium intake could be beneficial for adults who have normal or high blood cholesterol levels. Psyllium is a grain similar to wheat and oats, and is a concentrated source of soluble fibre.

Implications for your business: Only a few breakfast cereals currently contain psyllium fibre, but you can bet we’ll be seeing more psyllium-containing products hit the grocery shelves soon. For more information, read http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/claims-reclam/assess-evalu/psyllium-cholesterol-eng.php