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Thursday, 11 April 2019

Which Are Healthier: Chia Seeds or Flaxseeds?

We’ve been eating chia seeds for more than 5,000 years. Historically, they are one of the main crops grown in the western hemisphere. They are exceptionally high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, though, like flaxseeds, it’s better to grind them up. As you can see at 0:26 in my video below, eating two tablespoons of whole chia seeds every day for ten weeks led to no change in omega-3 levels, but consuming the same amount of groundchia seeds did lead to a significant increase in blood levels of both short-chain and long-chain omega 3s. “Ingestion of…milled chia seed compared to whole chia seed or placebo…[appeared to have] no influence on inflammation or disease risk factors,” though. As well, there was no change in body fat, blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, C-reactive protein, or any of the other markers of inflammation.
An earlier study purported to show a significant reduction in C-reactive protein levels (an indicator of systemic inflammation), compared to control. However, if you look closely at the data, you see that was only because there was a significant worsening in the placebo group who had been given a couple of tablespoons of wheat bran a day instead of chia. So it’s not that the chia group got significantly better; the control group just got significantly worse
Whenever researchers appear to be exaggerating their results, that’s a red flag to check their funding source. In this case, they didn’t disclose any conflicts of interest. Five years later, however, the truth came out. The study was indeed funded by a chia company. Furthermore, the lead investigator had filed a patent to use chia seeds to treat diseases. Why wasn’t any of this disclosed when the study was originally published? Because the journal’s “conflict-of-interest policy did not specifically require the disclosure of such information.”
Regardless, the “patent has since been abandoned,” likely because subsequent studies found no significant benefits for weight loss, blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, or inflammation after eating a quarter cup of chia seeds a day for three months. The original study, however, did show a significant drop in blood pressure, which was replicated by other researchers.
More potent effects have been found with ground flaxseeds, though. The primary reason I prefer flaxseeds over chia seeds is their lignan content, which averages about 15 times more than other seeds, including sesame and chia. This is thought to explain the anti-cancer effects of flaxseeds for both prevention and survival.

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