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Basil Seeds Vs Chia Seeds 2023: Everything You Need To Know


Reviewed by Kimberly Langdon, MD
basil seeds vs chia seeds
Basil and chia seeds are both tiny seeds - can you spot the difference? Photo: Phuong Thanh

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Basil seeds can easily be confused with chia seeds based on their size alone – tiny, oval-ish-shaped seeds with similar numerous health benefits. Both seeds offer varying amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber, as well as a mix of vitamins and minerals. In fact, they are one of the best vegan foods for weight loss. If you’re curious about how to get more protein in your diet, check out the best low-calorie protein powder.

Though both chia and basil seeds are considered healthy, chia seeds contain lectins, and proteins that bind to carbohydrates, which can be problematic for certain individuals. Lectins are anti-nutrients or plant compounds that interfere with how food is absorbed (evolutionarily designed by plants to prevent bugs from eating them). If lectins bother you, you may wish to explore other lectin-free superfoods or try the plant-paradox diet.

Basil Seeds Vs. Chia Seeds: Key Differences

Basil seeds and chia seeds come from different plants. Basil seeds are slightly bigger than chia seeds and all black, whereas chia seeds are black, white, and gray. Both seeds have similar nutritional content, except that chia seeds have more omega-3 fats than basil seeds, and basil seeds have more fiber than chia seeds. Additionally, chia seeds contain lectins, whereas basil seeds do not.

Chia Seeds Vs Basil Seeds: Appearance

Many people take one look at basil seeds and assume they are black chia seeds. Similarly, people may mistake chia seeds for basil seeds. Why? Because they are almost identical in appearance, except for a few minor differences. Basil seeds are small and oval-shaped, but entirely black. Chia seeds are also oval-shaped, but they are smaller than basil seeds, and they come in three colors: Black, white, and gray. Both seeds become larger and form a gel-like consistency when they are soaked in liquid.  

Both Chia Vs Basil Seeds Are High In Nutrition

Omega-3 Fatty Acid

Seeds are great sources of healthy dietary fat,[1] such as omega-3 fatty acids. Chia and basil seeds are no exception. Omega-3 fats are necessary for various functions in the body and are needed to promote the optimal functioning of our hormones, brain, and heart.


Many people don’t get enough fiber in their diet or weight loss. An easy way to rectify this is by adding chia and basil seeds to your dishes, especially basil seeds. Fiber slows down sugar’s absorption into the bloodstream, keeping our blood sugar steady, and it helps us feel satiated. Additionally, fiber feeds the beneficial microbes that live in the gut (our microbiome), which play a powerful role in our immunity, heart health, mental health, skin health, and of course, digestive health.


Protein is the building block of our cells. In fact, there isn’t a cell in our body that doesn’t contain protein, so getting enough is crucial. One way to boost protein intake is to add chia and basil seeds into your diet on a regular basis. They can be ground or soaked chia seeds and sprinkled or mixed into salads, smoothies, soups, and baked goods.

Vitamins And Minerals

Both chia and basil seeds are high in vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin E, potassium, and iron. However, each seed contains a little more or less of certain vitamins. For example, basil seeds have more vitamins C, A, and K, while chia seeds have more thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin (various B vitamins).


Both chia and basil seeds contain important compounds called antioxidants.[2] They’re important because they help fight and prevent damage to our cells from free radicals. Some antioxidants include flavonoids, phenolic acids, tannins, vitamins C and E, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in chia and basil seeds. Antioxidants have long been studied for their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and their ability to enhance health and reduce disease risk.

Health Benefits Of Chia And Basil Seeds

Heart Health

Chia and basil seeds contain numerous compounds and nutrients that enhance heart health.[3] For starters, antioxidants, reduce inflammation. Additionally, the fiber in the seeds supports gut bacteria which protect the heart and reduce blood pressure. The omega-3 fats in the seeds have a positive effect on cholesterol as well.

Brain Health

The brain is made up of roughly 60% fat[4] and needs adequate dietary fat to keep it healthy. The omega-3 fatty acids from chia and basil seeds are essential for good brain function, including better focus, cognition, and memory.

Better Digestion

The fiber from chia and basil seeds not only feeds our friendly gut bacteria, which helps improve overall digestive health, but it helps to bulk up stool and keep us regular. Seeds, especially when grounded or soaked, can help improve the flow in the digestive tract while providing key nutrients for abortion.

Regulated Blood Sugar

Blood sugar stabilization is crucial for health. Stabilized blood sugar also means stabilized hormones, mood, digestion, sleep, and an overall reduction in inflammation and less risk of serious disease. The fiber from seeds, combined with protein and fat, work together to slow down how our body absorbs glucose. This means less glucose spikes, less insulin production, and less glucose in our bloodstream (high blood sugar). Together, this can help prevent and manage diabetes, insulin resistance, and weight gain.

Lower Inflammation

Chia and basil seeds have the power to lower inflammation – the fiber and antioxidants in the seeds, in particular. Antioxidants work to essentially repair damage and inflammation[5] in the body. The more stressed the body, whether from high cortisol, toxins, or processed foods, the more inflammation. So keep chia and basil seeds form on hand as part of an anti-inflammatory diet.

Hormone Balance

Our hormones are made from fat and protein (our sex hormones, specifically, are made from cholesterol). As such, our hormones require enough dietary fat and protein to keep them healthy and balanced. Chia seeds have more omega-3 fatty acids than basil seeds, yet they are both suitable for adding in more healthy fats. Both seeds have similar amounts of protein. Consider sprinkling grounded chia seeds into your oatmeal or smoothies for an extra boost to your hormone health.

How To Consume

Though similar looking, chia seeds and basil seeds need to be consumed in different ways.

Chia Seeds

basil seeds vs chia seeds
There are countless ways to enjoy chia seeds, from raw to ground to soaked. Photo: mchin/Shutterstock

Consuming chia seeds in several ways: Raw, soaked or grounded. Eating chia seeds raw may be slightly harder on digestion for some. And because chia seeds form and expand in liquid, they will expand in the body once they’re ingested, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids or drink chia seed water. 

Soaking chia seeds in either water or another liquid makes them soft and gelatinous, like a pudding. You can add this gel-like mixture to cereals smoothies or drinks or eat it as is, as a pudding or thick drink.

Grinding chia seeds into a powder is another way to eat them. In fact, it may be easier for some people to digest it this way, as well as easier to absorb the nutrients. Once chia seeds are ground, they will need to be eaten quickly, so be sure to grind them just before you plan to eat them. Add chia seeds to oatmeal, cereal, baked goods, smoothies, and vegetables

Basil Seeds

basil seeds vs chia seeds
Basil seeds need to be consumed slightly differently than chia seeds. Photo Makistock/Shutterstock

Unlike chia seeds, basil seeds should not be eaten raw. Instead, soak basil seeds before consumption. Once soaked, you may choose to add them to any dish of your choice – savory or sweet. You may also create a basil seed pudding from them by soaking them in milk, then adding in fruit and seasoning of your choice. 

Which One Is Better?

Both seeds have a lot to offer, aside from which, the benefits of the seeds will be valued differently depending on the person. It’s fair to say that incorporating basil seeds and chia seeds is relatively equal with regard to their nutritional value as a whole, but if fiber is most important to you, then stick with basil seeds. If omega-3 fatty acids are more important to you, then you should choose chia seeds. If you’re worried about lectins, try basil seeds instead of chia. But, overall, there’s no harm in reaping the benefits of both! Instead of choosing, try alternating chia and basil seeds in your daily life so you can get the best of both worlds. 


Chia seeds and basil seeds at first glance, look very similar. However, each seed comes from a different plant and offers a unique nutritional profile. Both seeds share certain vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and antioxidants, but depending on whether you’re looking for more fiber or fat, or a lectin-free seed, one seed may be more suitable for some than others. Your individual preferences and health goals will help you determine if basil seeds, chia seeds, or both are helpful to add to your diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which seed has more dietary fat? 

Chia seeds have significantly more dietary fat than basil seeds. However, basil seeds have more fiber.

How can I tell basil seeds apart from chia seeds?

It can be hard to distinguish at first, but if you look at chia seeds side by side with basil seeds, you’ll notice that basil seeds are slightly larger. Also, basil seeds are all black, whereas chia seeds are a mixture of black, white, gray (and sometimes brown).

Are basil seeds and chia seeds healthy for everyone?

Both chia seeds and basil seeds are considered generally healthy and safe, however, seeds can pose a choking hazard for those who may be at higher risk of choking. Also, not everyone tolerates seeds well, so this will depend on how your body responds to them. If lectins bother you, you should avoid chia seeds and try basil seeds instead.

+ 5 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Melo, D., Thelma and P.P, B. (2019). Chia seeds: an ancient grain trending in modern human diets. [online] 10(6), pp.3068–3089. doi:https://doi.org/10.1039/c9fo00239a.
  2. Bravo, H.R., Natalia Vera Céspedes, Zura-Bravo, L. and Muñoz, L.A. (2021). Basil Seeds as a Novel Food, Source of Nutrients and Functional Ingredients with Beneficial Properties: A Review. [online] 10(7), pp.1467–1467. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10071467.
  3. NCCIH. (2017). Antioxidant Supplements: What You Need To Know. [online] Available at: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidant-supplements-what-you-need-to-know.
  4. Chappus-McCendie, H., Chevalier, L., Roberge, C. and Plourde, M. (2019). Omega-3 PUFA metabolism and brain modifications during aging. [online] 94, pp.109662–109662. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pnpbp.2019.109662.
  5. Palanisamy Arulselvan, Masoumeh Tangestani Fard, Woan Sean Tan, Sivapragasam Gothai, Sharida Fakurazi, Mohd Esa Norhaizan and Kumar, S. (2016). Role of Antioxidants and Natural Products in Inflammation. [online] 2016, pp.1–15. doi:https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/5276130.


A Health Coach specializing in Integrative Nutrition, I approach wellness with a holistic and functional medicine perspective. As a writer, I simplify intricate topics such as nutrition, gut and hormone health, mental well-being, and spiritual health,… See More

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