Nutrition Face-Off: Basil Seeds vs. Chia Seeds Compared

The use of superfoods to enhance health has exploded in popularity over the last few years. Many of these nutrient-dense foods, including basil and chia seeds, have been used traditionally to address various health ailments and boost overall well-being. With chia seeds originating from Central America and basil seeds from Southeast Asia and Central Africa, these two small but mighty dietary additions possess many nutritional benefits. Choosing between them can be a little confusing, as they appear to be similar at first glance.

In this article, we’ll compare and contrast chia seeds vs. basil seeds, looking at their nutritional values, health benefits, and ways to use these powerful superfoods in your diet.

Basil seeds vs. chia seeds: the comparison table

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Many of us are always looking for ways to optimize our diets, adding superfoods like chia and basil seeds to improve our nutritional intake. The table below provides a comprehensive comparison of the dietary value of these impressive seeds.

Chia Basil
Other names and originMexican chia or Salba chia from Central AmericaSabja or tukmaria seeds from Southeast Asia and Central Africa
AppearanceBlack, gray, white, or brown and oval-shapedBlack and more elliptical-shaped
How to consumeCan be eaten milled or whole, raw or soaked in water, milk, or juiceMostly eaten whole without milling and must be soaked before eating
Ways to useSprinkled on salads, added to smoothies, used in baking cakes and puddingsUsed to make the famous falooda summer drink and added to porridge and puddings
Nutrition value per 3.5 oz (100 g)Calories — 486 kcal

Protein — 16.5 g

Omega-3 — 17.83 g

Fiber — 34.4 g
Values differ depending on location — these values are from Indian-grown basil seeds

Calories — 442 kcal

Protein — 14.8 g

Omega-3 — approx. 14 g

Fiber — 22.6
Health benefitsMay help aid weight loss, diabetes management, and support heart health; antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatoryMay help with weight loss and diabetes management; beneficial for heart, cholesterol, and gut health; antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory

Chia seeds are already fairly well-known in the health world as a functional superfood since they contain healthy fats, fiber, and protein. If you aren’t used to a fiber-rich diet, it’s recommended to start by eating half a tablespoon daily, gradually building up to two tablespoons as your body gets used to more fiber intake.

You can eat them raw by sprinkling them on your salads or adding them to smoothies. You can also soak them in water, milk, or juice, and they’ll become slightly gelatinous, making a delicious gooey texture that feels like a pudding in your mouth.

Unlike chia seeds, to unleash basil seed benefits, they must be soaked before you eat them. You shouldn’t sprinkle or add them to dishes without soaking them for at least 15 minutes first.

In general, it’s safe to eat up to 2 tablespoons per day, and it’s best to soak them in water with a squeeze of lemon juice or a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to help make them more easily digestible. The acid in the lemon juice and ACV breaks down some of the compounds held within the seeds, allowing your body to more easily access the valuable nutrients. After soaking, they can be added to drinks, soups, yogurt, or used in baking.

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Basil vs. chia in weight management

One of the main components in weight management is satiety, and the high fiber content in chia and basil seeds can help you feel fuller for longer, reducing appetite and helping to suppress food cravings. They share similarities in calorie content and are easy to factor into your daily caloric intake when on a weight management program.

From a metabolic perspective, research suggests that the consumption of chia and basil seeds may influence blood glucose control, helping prevent sharp spikes and crashes in blood sugar. When our blood sugar spikes and rapidly falls, our bodies try to regain balance quickly, and this is often expressed as a desire to eat more sugary food.

Eating high-sugar, energy-dense foods can lead to weight gain, cardiovascular issues, and excess fat storage. Incorporating basil and chia seeds as part of a weight management program may help you maintain a healthy body weight.

Digestive health of basil vs. chia seeds

Fiber is a crucial dietary element for digestive health and overall well-being. Getting enough fiber in our diets is beneficial to the maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome.

Although chia and basil seeds share similarities in their high fiber content, chia seeds notably contain almost 10 g more fiber per 100 g, making them superior if you are looking to significantly increase your intake.

Both seeds have an extraordinary capacity to absorb water and swell up when soaked, forming a gelatinous substance that expands in your digestive tract. This expansion goes a long way in helping you to feel fuller for longer.

Health considerations

Before you head to your local health store or online shop to buy either chia or basil seeds, it’s important to consider any potential adverse reactions that might arise when trying out these tiny nutritional powerhouses.

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Rapid fiber increase

Increasing your fiber intake can be highly beneficial, but you can go too far too fast and cause intestinal discomforts such as bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and gas. You are more at risk of these issues if you aren’t adequately hydrated, so make sure you are drinking plenty of water alongside raising your fiber intake.

Existing health conditions

If you suffer from other conditions such as Crohn's Disease or ulcerative colitis, fiber intake may have to be limited during flare-ups, and it’s best to consult with your primary care team before adding superfoods like chia and basil seeds into your diet.

Allergies

In severe cases, allergies can lead to anaphylactic shock, which is a life-threatening condition causing breathing difficulties and chest and throat tightness. Although rare, some people might be allergic to chia and/or basil seeds. If you’ve never eaten them before, your safest option is to try a very small amount and check for any negative reactions, which could include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Hives
  • Swelling

If you notice any of the above symptoms, stop eating the seeds and contact your healthcare provider for a professional assessment.

How to use these seeds?

For all you budding chefs out there, both chia and basil seeds can be used in various recipes like smoothies, puddings, and salads. If you are new to using these in your diet, take a look through some of these delicious recipe ideas for inspiration.

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Here are 4 of our favorite super simple recipes for chia seeds and basil seeds:

Chia pudding, 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 100 g chia seeds
  • 500 ml oat milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 apples, chopped into cubes
  • Handful of raisins
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Method:

  1. Combine chia seeds, oat milk, vanilla, and maple syrup in a bowl. Set aside in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. In the morning, divide the chia mix into 4 smaller bowls.
  3. Chop the apple and divide across the 4 bowls.
  4. Sprinkle the raisins and cinnamon on top.
  5. Eat and enjoy!

Strawberry chia smoothie, 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Method:

  1. Peel the banana.
  2. Add everything to your blender.
  3. Blend for approx 30 seconds or until smooth.
  4. Serve in a nice glass and enjoy!

Basil seed coconut water, 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp basil seeds, soaked for 20 minutes in a cup of water
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 2 small pieces coconut, dried (optional)

Method:

  1. Finely chop 3 of the mint leaves.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a glass and stir until well mixed.
  3. Add the two remaining mint leaves and dried coconut as garnish.
  4. Drink and enjoy!

Basil seed and blue spirulina pudding, 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp basil seeds
  • 1 tsp blue spirulina
  • 6 cups coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or other sweetener of choice
  • 2 scoops natural yogurt
  • Blueberries and blackberries to garnish

Method:

  1. Mix the basil seeds, coconut milk, spirulina, and maple syrup. Leave overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. The next day divide the mixture into two glasses.
  3. Spoon in some natural yogurt on top.
  4. Add the berries.
  5. Savor the flavor!

Final thoughts on chia seeds vs. basil seeds

In the title fight of chia seeds vs basil seeds, it seems like chia seeds take the crown. They have the nutritional edge and are also much more conveniently available in local, national, and online stores. That being said, if you can find basil seeds, then why not make the ultimate superfood and combine both seeds into one delicious fruity pudding or breakfast smoothie?

Both chia and basil seeds are valuable additions to any health-conscious diet and offer certain health benefits that include antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. Combined with their high mineral levels, healthy fat content in the form of omega-3, and high protein, these tiny but mighty seeds can help with blood glucose regulation, weight management, and even prevent cardiovascular issues.

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