With a healthy dose of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, both chia seeds and flax seeds are what some folks call "super foods." If you look around your natural foods market, you'll see them in the bulk aisle, sprinkled on top of baked goods, even suspended in smoothies and juices.
Chia is actually a member of the mint family and are much smaller than flax seeds (about one millimeter in diameter). When soaked in liquid, they form a gelatinous mass that makes them popular in puddings or as a thickening agent in baked goods or smoothies.
Flax is a little lower in calcium although higher in iron. But the main difference lies in the fact that you must grind flax seeds to release their nutrients, whereas chia seeds are good to go.
But I had to ask myself, nutritional studies aside, which is better texture-wise? Taste-wise? When it comes right down to it, the convenience of being able to use chia seeds right out of their package has me reaching for them much more frequently in everything from on top of my morning cereal to inside smoothies or salad dressings. Do I feel immediately more energetic? Not necessarily. But don't these things take a little time?
Related: Ingredient Spotlight: Chia Seeds
(Image: Megan Gordon)