Chia vs Flax vs. Hemp seeds dietitian compares super seeds image of chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds in spoons

Chia vs Flax vs Hemp: Dietitian Compares Super Seeds

If you’ve been scrolling social media lately, you may have noticed a lot of talk about the super seeds: chia, flax and hemp. And you may be wondering what the difference is between chia vs flax vs hemp seeds. 

In this blog, we’ll dive into the differences between these seeds, their nutritional benefits, and some easy ways to add them into a balanced diet.

Chia vs Flax vs. Hemp seeds dietitian compares super seeds image of chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds in spoons

These tiny seeds may be small in size, but they are loaded with benefits and would be a great addition to a healthy lifestyle. You’ve probably even been adding them to recipes like these Healthy Overnight Oats Recipe for Weight Loss (Easy) And they can be easily found at your local grocery stores. 

What Are Hemp Seeds?

image of hemp seeds super seeds

Hemp seeds are a popular superfood that have been consumed for centuries due to their numerous health benefits. They come from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). However, they do not contain the psychoactive component THC that’s found in marijuana.

Hemp seeds are loaded with protein, healthy fats, fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals. They have a nutty flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked, added to smoothies, salads, or baked goods, or pressed to extract oil.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the health benefits and various uses of hemp seeds, and how you can easily incorporate them into your diet. 

What’s the difference between hemp seeds and hemp hearts?

Hemp seeds and hemp hearts are both derived from the hemp plant, but they refer to different parts of the seed. Hemp seeds are the entire seed and come in a whole form, including the outer shell or hull, while hemp hearts are the inner part of the seed, without the shell.

They are a good source of dietary fiber and contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They can be used in a variety of ways, such as added to smoothies, baked into bread or muffins, or sprinkled on top of salads.

Hemp hearts, on the other hand, are a more concentrated source of nutrients than hemp seeds, as they contain more protein and essential fatty acids per serving. They are also more easily digestible than hemp seeds, since they do not contain the tough outer shell. 

Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds:

Hemp seeds are a nutritional powerhouse and offer many great benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the key health benefits of hemp seeds:

  1. Rich in Protein: Hemp seeds are a great source of plant-based protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. In fact, they have the highest protein out of all the seeds. This makes them a great option for vegetarians and vegans looking to find alternative protein sources and increase their protein intake in their daily diet. Two tablespoons of hemp seeds contains around 7 grams of protein.
  2. Healthy Fats: Hemp seeds are also high in healthy fats, specifically omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. These fats have been shown to improve heart health and reduce inflammation. 
  3. High in Fiber: Hemp seeds are a great source of dietary fiber, which can aid in digestion and promote feelings of fullness.
  4. Vitamins and Minerals: Hemp seeds are a good source of several essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
  5. Potential Health Benefits: Studies have suggested that hemp seeds may have potential health benefits, including reducing symptoms of PMS, improving heart health, and reducing inflammation.

Uses of Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds have incredible versatility and you can use them in many different ways. Here are some common uses for hemp seeds:

  1. Eating Raw: You can eat hemp seeds raw, right out of the bag. They have a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture, making them a great addition to salads, smoothies, or oatmeal.
  2. Making Milk: Blend hemp seeds with water to make a dairy-free milk alternative. This is a great option for those who are lactose intolerant or looking to reduce their dairy intake.
  3. Baking: You can use hemp seeds in baking to add nutrition and flavor to your favorite baked goods. They work well in muffins, bread, and even cookies.
  4. Sprinkling: Sprinkle hemp seeds on top of yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal to add a nutritional boost to your breakfast.
  5. Oil: Press hemp seeds to make hemp seed oil, which you can use in cooking or as a dressing for salads.

My favorite hemp seeds

hemp vs chia seeds

These are the hemp seeds I currently use and love. I have been using Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts for months now and I love their nutty, yet subtle, flavor. 

What are Chia Seeds? 

image of chia seeds in a bowl and scooper

Chia seeds are known as a superfood that have been used for centuries by the Aztecs and Mayans. These come from the chia plant and are tiny seeds that pack a nutritional punch, providing fiber, protein, healthy fats, and many other vitamins and minerals. These seeds are also incredibly versatile and can be incorporated into a variety of meals and snacks.

In recent years, chia seeds have gained popularity among health enthusiasts due to their numerous health benefits and you may have even tried the famous chia seed pudding.

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

  1. Promotes Digestive Health: The high fiber content in chia seeds promotes regular bowel movements and supports overall digestive health. (10 grams of fiber.1 tablespoon of chia seeds contains around 5.5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. 
  2. Boosts Energy Levels: Chia seeds are a great source of energy due to their high protein and healthy fat content. They also contain carbohydrates that are slowly absorbed, providing sustained energy throughout the day.
  3. Supports Heart Health: Chia seeds are loaded with heart-healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels, all of which can reduce the risk of heart disease. 
  4. Promotes Bone Health: Chia seeds are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, all of which are essential for maintaining strong bones.
  5. Helps Control Blood Sugars: Chia seeds can help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.
  6. Rich in omega-3s: Just 1 ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds far exceeds your daily recommended intake of omega-3 fatty acids, delivering a whopping 5,000 mg of omega-3! This is super important for vegans or vegetarians who may not be eating any fatty fish. Adding some of these seeds to your daily diet can help you reach your daily requirement of polyunsaturated fatty acids and Monounsaturated fatty acids. 

Uses of Chia Seeds

There are many different ways to enjoy chia seeds including as: 

  1. Topping: Chia seeds can be used as a great choice topping for cereals, yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothie bowls.
  2. Thickener: When soaked in liquid, chia seeds become gel-like and can be used as a natural thickener in recipes such as jams, puddings, and sauces.
  3. Vegan egg substitute: When mixed with water, chia seeds can be used as a vegan egg substitute in baking recipes and can replace egg whites or the entire egg.
  4. Binding agent: Chia seeds can also be used as a binding agent in recipes like burgers or meatballs.
  5. Ingredient in baked goods: Chia seeds can be added to baked goods such as bread, muffins, and cookies for added nutrition and texture.
  6. Pre-workout snack: Chia seeds can provide a sustained energy boost and are an excellent pre-workout snack.
  7. Chia pudding: In my opinion, this is the best way to enjoy chia seeds. It is so easy to make. All you need is 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1/2 cup milk and a tablespoon of your favorite sweetener. Store in the fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours and add your favorite toppings. Many people do not like the texture of chia seeds, but the good news is you an blend it for a more pudding-like texture. 

My Favorite Chia Seeds 

hemp seeds vs. chia seeds. You can see the difference in texture. My favorite chia seeds.

I have been a fan of Bob’s Red Mill chia seeds because the quality is superior. When you don’t buy high-quality chia seeds, they do not expand and gelatinize as they should.

What are Flax Seeds?

image of flax seeds in a bowl and scooper

Flax seeds, also known as linseeds, are small, brown, or golden-colored seeds that come from the flax plant. They are a rich source of fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can find them in various forms, such as whole flax seeds, ground, or oil.

Health Benefits of Flax Seeds

  1. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds are a great source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is heart healthy and improves brain function.
  2. High in fiber. Flax seeds are an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can help promote regular bowel movements, lower cholesterol levels, and improve overall gut health.
  3. May reduce the risk of certain cancers. Lignans are present in flax seeds, and research has shown that they possess anti-cancer properties, reducing the risk of colon, prostate, and breast cancer.
  4. Supports heart health. Flax seeds are rich in lignans, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are beneficial for heart health. Consuming flax seeds regularly may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
  5. May help with weight management. The fiber and healthy fats found in flax seeds can help you feel full for longer periods, which can aid in weight management.
  6. May improve skin health. The omega-3 fatty acids found in flax seeds may help improve skin hydration, reduce inflammation, and improve skin elasticity.

Uses of Flax Seeds

Here are some common ways you can use flax seeds, depending on your personal preference and the desired outcome:

  • Sprinkle them on food. Add flax seeds on top of salads, yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothie bowls to give a nutty flavor and increase nutrition.
  • Blend them into smoothies. Add flax seeds to smoothies to increase fiber and protein content. Furthermore, remember to grind the seeds before adding them to the smoothie to ensure proper digestion.
  • Use them as an egg substitute. Mix ground flax seeds with water to create a gel-like substance that can be used as a vegan substitute for eggs in baking.
  • Add them to baked goods. Increase fiber and omega-3 fatty acid content in muffins, bread, and other baked goods by adding flax seeds.
  • Make flaxseed oil. Extract oil from flax seeds by pressing them, and then use the oil for cooking, salad dressings, and other culinary purposes.

Remember that ground flax seeds are best for consumption to allow for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. We recommend storing flax seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to maintain freshness.

My Favorite Flax Seeds

chia and hemp seeds together. Hemp vs chia vs flax

Better Body Foods is a mix of all super seeds and the flaxseed is ground making it easier to digest. 

Similarities Between Hemp Seeds vs Chia Seeds vs Flax Seeds

Chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds may seem different, but they share many similarities in terms of their nutritional benefits.

  • Rich in fiber.
  • High in omega-3 fatty acids (alpha linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid).
  • Good source of plant-based protein.
  • Beneficial for heart health.
  • Can aid in healthy digestion.
  • Versatile and can be used in various dishes.

Differences Between Hemp Seeds, Chia Seeds and Flax Seeds

These superfoods may share many similarities, but they also have unique properties that set them apart. For example:

  • Hemp seeds have a nutty flavor and contain all essential amino acids, while chia and flax seeds have a more neutral taste and are lower in protein.
  • Chia seeds absorb liquid and create a gel-like texture, while flax seeds need to be ground to access their full nutritional benefits.
  • Flax seeds are the richest source of lignans, a type of plant compound with potential health benefits, while chia seeds are high in antioxidant properties.

Which is better Chia, hemp, or flax seeds?

Even though we have been talking about chia vs flax vs hemp seeds, I do want to make it clear that these types of seeds have unique nutritional benefits. It’s difficult to say which one is “better” than the other because they each have their own benefits.`

In terms of nutrition, hemp seeds are a complete protein, meaning they contain all essential amino acids. They are also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and are a good source of fiber. Additionally, hemp seeds have a nutty flavor that can add a delicious crunch to various dishes.

Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. They also absorb water and can help keep you feeling full, making them a popular choice for weight loss.

Flax seeds are high in fiber, lignans, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid. They also have potential anti-inflammatory effects and may help reduce the risk of certain cancers.

The best seed for you will depend on your individual nutritional needs and preferences. For example, if you’re looking to boost your protein intake, hemp seeds might be a great option for you. If you’re looking to improve your digestion, chia seeds could be the better option. Ultimately, all three of these seeds are healthy choices and can be easily incorporated into your diet for maximum health benefits. My favorite way to incorporate these into my diet is by adding a tablespoon of this seed mix to my morning smoothies or sprinkled on top of my yogurt bowls. 

Benefits of Eating Super Seeds

image of three spoons with hemp, flax, and chia seeds

Super seeds, such as chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds, are packed with nutrients that offer numerous health benefits, including:

  • Brain health: Super seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain health and can help improve cognitive function.
  • Systolic blood pressure: Several studies have found that consuming super seeds may help lower systolic blood pressure, which is the top number in a blood pressure reading and an important risk factor for heart disease.
  • Cardiovascular health: Super seeds are rich in fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants, all of which can help improve cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation, improving blood vessel function, and lower cholesterol levels.
  • Weight management: Super seeds are a great addition to a weight loss or weight management plan, as they are low in calories but high in fiber and protein. This combination helps you feel full and satisfied after eating, which can help reduce overall calorie intake.
  • Bone health: Super seeds are a good source of several minerals that are important for bone health, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. These minerals help keep bones strong and healthy, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions.
  • Skin health: Super seeds are high in antioxidants, which help protect the skin against damage from free radicals and other environmental stressors. This can help reduce the signs of aging and keep skin looking healthy and youthful.
  • Immune system support: Super seeds are rich in several nutrients that are important for a healthy immune system, including vitamin E, zinc, and selenium. These nutrients help support the body’s natural defenses and can help prevent infections and other illnesses.

Potential Downsides of Eating Super Seeds

While super seeds like hemp, chia, and flax offer a range of health benefits, there are also potential downsides to consider. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • All three seeds are high in fiber, which can be beneficial for the digestive tract. However, they can also cause digestive discomfort if consumed in excess. It’s important to gradually increase your intake of these seeds to allow your body to adjust.
  • Chia seeds, which are particularly high in insoluble fiber, can absorb water and swell in your stomach, potentially causing digestive issues or even choking if consumed dry. Be sure to drink plenty of water when eating chia seeds, and consider soaking them before consuming to avoid any issues.
  • Flax seeds contain a compound called cyanogenic glycosides, which can be toxic in large amounts. To avoid this, it’s recommended to limit your daily intake of flax seeds to 1-2 tablespoons and to consume them ground rather than whole.

Overall, incorporating super seeds into your diet can be a great way to boost your overall health and wellness. However, as with any food, it’s important to consume them in moderation and pay attention to any potential side effects or allergic reactions.

Can Chia Seeds, Hemp Seeds and Flaxseed Be Eaten Together?

Chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flaxseeds can be eaten together. In fact, combining these super seeds is a good idea as they provide a diverse range of nutrients and health benefits.

Mixing these edible seeds can be as simple as sprinkling them over a salad, oatmeal, or yogurt, or adding them to a smoothie or baked goods. They can also be used together to make a seed-based spread, such as a nut-free pesto or hummus.

When combining these seeds, it’s important to keep in mind that these could result in a high fiber intake. While these nutrients are beneficial, consuming too much at once can lead to digestive discomfort. Give your body time to adjust to the increased fiber. It’s recommended to start with small portions and gradually increase as tolerated.

Can Hemp Seeds and Chia Seeds Be Substituted For Each Other?

To compare and contrast hemp seeds and chia seeds, both can be substituted for each other in many recipes due to their similar size, texture, and nutritional profile. For instance, if a recipe calls for chia seeds but you don’t have any on hand, the best option is to substitute an equal amount of hemp seeds instead. Similarly, if a recipe calls for hemp seeds, you can use chia seeds in their place.

Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that hemp seeds and chia seeds have some differences in taste and texture.

Hemp seeds have a slightly nutty flavor, while chia seeds are relatively neutral in taste. Furthermore, chia seeds tend to absorb liquid more readily than hemp seeds, which can impact the recipe’s texture.

In conclusion, while hemp seeds and chia seeds are fairly interchangeable, it’s essential to keep in mind their slight differences in taste and texture and adjust as needed to achieve the desired result.

Nutritional Profiles of Chia vs Flax vs Hemp 

NutrientFlax Seeds (1 oz / 28 g)Hemp Seeds (1 oz / 28 g)Chia Seeds (1 oz / 28 g)
Total Fat12 g14 g9 g
Saturated Fat1 g1.5 g1 g
Omega-3 Fatty Acids6.5 g7.5 g4.9 g
Omega-6 Fatty Acids1.7 g2.5 g1.6 g
Protein5 g10 g5 g
Carbohydrates8 g1 g12 g
Dietary Fiber8 g1 g10 g
Calcium7% of Daily Value (DV)2% of DV18% of DV
Iron13% of DV20% of DV12% of DV
Magnesium27% of DV50% of DV30% of DV
Phosphorus19% of DV60% of DV27% of DV
Potassium4% of DV5% of DV3% of DV
Zinc10% of DV25% of DV3% of DV

Note: Values may vary slightly depending on the source of the seeds.

This chart shows that all three seeds are good sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, protein, and dietary fiber. However, chia seeds have the highest amount of dietary fiber and calcium, while hemp seeds have the highest amount of protein and minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus. Flax seeds have the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids and are a good source of iron.

Other healthy seeds you should eat

Although the purpose of this post is to discuss chia vs flax vs hemp seeds, I wanted to briefly mention a few other noteworthy seeds.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are a rich source of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E. They contain healthy unsaturated fats and lignans which can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. Due to the presence of calcium, sesame seeds can also aid in supporting bone health. Additionally, they are a versatile ingredient that you can easily incorporate into a variety of dishes.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds can promote heart health, reduce inflammation, and support blood sugar management, making them a great food choice for reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Furthermore, a tablespoon of whole sunflower seeds provides lots of nutrients such as protein, healthy fats, dietary fiber, and several vitamins like vitamin B.

Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds are a nutritious and delicious food that offer a range of health benefits. These tiny seeds are a good source of several important nutrients, including dietary fiber, protein, and minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium. They also contain healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help to lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Additionally, poppy seeds are a good source of antioxidants, which can help to protect the body against damage from harmful free radicals. 

Easy Recipes to Try 

image of four different recipes linked below
  1. Healthy Rice Cake Ideas: Toppings for Weight Loss
  2. The Best High Protein Oatmeal Recipe Without Protein Powder
  3. High Fiber Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss (Dietitian Approved)
  4. Healthy Overnight Oats Recipe for Weight Loss (Easy)

The bottom line

Hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds are all nutrient-dense superfoods that offer numerous health benefits.

As much as they each have their own distinguishing characteristics, they do have similar nutrition profiles in terms of fiber content, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants.

Consequently, by incorporating these super seeds into your diet, you can improve your heart health, boost brain function, and promote overall wellness.

Whether you prefer to sprinkle them on top of your yogurt, blend them into your smoothies, or bake them into your favorite recipes, there are endless ways to enjoy these super seeds.

So now that we’ve discussed what the difference is between chia vs flax vs hemp, let me know in the comments which one you’ll be adding into your diet.

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