Hemp Seeds Vs Chia Seeds. Their Nutritional Differences, Benefits, and How To Include Them In Your Diet. Veg Out With Maria.

Hemp seeds vs chia seeds. Two small but mighty seeds, both offering a beneficial contribution to a plant-based diet, yet each has its own distinct advantages.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the nutritional differences between hemp seeds and chia seeds, exploring their benefits, and how you can integrate them into your daily routine for maximum health benefits.

What Are Hemp Seeds?

“I have no idea what hemp seeds are,” says my husband. I’m sure he’s not alone. Hemp seeds come from the hemp plant or Cannabis Sativa plant.

Even though hemp is related to the same cannabis family that marijuana comes from, hemp does not get you high! Hemp has actually been around for thousands of years, originating in central Asia, and was used to make textiles, rope, netting, and other products.

It’s only been fairly recently that we started enjoying the nutritional benefits of hemp. You will often hear hemp seeds referred to as hemp hearts. Hemp seeds are not commonly eaten due to their tough crunchy shell. Instead, the seeds are usually hulled, revealing their soft interior – the hemp heart.

A picture of hemp seeds on the left and hemp hearts on the right, both in a white bowl on a white-washed table.
Hemp Seeds (pictured left), and Hemp Hearts (on the right)

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have also been around for thousands of years! This time, originating from Mexico and Guatemala. Chia seeds come from a desert flowering plant called Salvia Hispanica, a member of the mint family.

Traditionally, chia seeds were used by the Aztecs and Mayans for food, oil, and cosmetics, as well as used in religious rituals1. Now, these little seeds have become quite popular and known for their nutritional and health benefits.

Chia seeds do not have to be ground and are often added to food in their whole form. New research suggests, however, that the omega-3 (ALA) content is better absorbed when ground. Also, if you add whole chia seeds to a liquid and let it soak (like in chia pudding) this can increase the absorption of omega-3s as well2.

chia seeds in a glass bowl on top of a turquoise wooden table top.

Nutrition Comparison

Despite differences in their physical appearance, chia and hemp seeds offer similar nutritional benefits. They both offer omega-3 fatty acids, plant-based protein, fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, iron, copper, and other minerals, making them a versatile and valuable addition to any diet.

But, each seed has its own unique attributes that make them stand out as a superseed.

Hemp Seed Nutrition

Hemp seeds or hemp hearts are known for their protein content. They are actually little protein powerhouses with just 3 Tbsp (30g) containing 10g of protein – and, yes, with all of the essential amino acids. They are also rich in minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese.

Although slightly lower in plant-based omega-3s than chia and flaxseeds, hemp seeds still contribute a good amount at 2.6g per 30g (3 Tbsp). That easily surpasses your recommended daily intake for ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which is 1.1g for women and 1.6g for men.

Hemp seeds offer a nice balance of essential fatty acids, providing a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3s which is considered the optimal range. In fact, hemp seeds are a rich source of the omega-6 gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA has been shown to reduce symptoms of PMS and is also thought to be beneficial for improving menopausal symptoms3,4.

Chia Seed Nutrition

Chia seeds are known for their fiber content. These little power seeds pack a punch with 10g of fiber per 30g (3 Tbsp)! When placed in water or a liquid, chia seeds swell and form a gelatinous texture similar to tapioca pearls. Chia seeds can actually absorb as much as 12 times their weight in water. This makes them a great egg substitute and can add moisture to baked goods.

While chia seeds don’t have as much protein as hemp seeds, they still provide 5g per 30g (3 Tbsp). Chia seeds also dominate with their high ALA omega-3 content, providing 5g of ALA per 30g serving.

Also, an excellent source of plant-based calcium, chia seeds give you 190mg of calcium in just 3 Tbsp. This is a bonus for menopausal bone health!

Chia seeds are also a great source of selenium which is important for thyroid health, immune function, and cognitive health5,6. Dietary selenium is associated with bone mineral density and a decreased risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women7.

Hemp Seeds Vs Chia Seeds

Below are a few key highlights of the nutritional advantages of both seeds:

Hemp Seeds Vs Chia Seeds. A nutrition comparison. Veg Out With Maria

Health Benefits

Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds offer a range of health benefits due to their rich nutritional profile.

Heart Health

Hemp seeds are abundant in healthy fats, particularly omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats play crucial roles in heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation in the body.

As previously mentioned, the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) found in hemp seeds has not only been shown to reduce symptoms of PMS and potentially menopausal symptoms but also has been linked to reduced inflammation, which can decrease your risk of diseases including heart disease8.

Hemp seeds are also rich in the amino acid arginine which produces nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a powerful chemical that helps your blood vessels relax, improving blood circulation which is crucial for a healthy cardiovascular system9,10.

Bone Health

Hemp seeds contain a high amount of magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. All of these minerals are important for bone health. Just a 1 oz serving of hemp seeds provides almost 100% of your daily needs for manganese. This trace mineral is important not only for healthy bones, but for reproduction, immunity, to create energy and for brain health11.

Brain Health

Omega-3s can protect nerves and the brain from damage and promote healthy brain function. This becomes more important as we start aging to prevent age-related problems such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Hemp seeds are also rich in polyphenols and other antioxidants that are neuroprotective12.

Anti-Inflammatory

The anti-inflammatory properties of hemp seeds can be attributed to the omega-3 fatty acid content, omega-6 gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), manganese, and other antioxidant properties.

Omega-3s are well known for their anti-inflammatory effects but less known is the body’s ability to use manganese to produce an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD is a powerful weapon against cell damage caused by free radicals. SOD decreases inflammation in your body, and can potentially reduce the pain of joint inflammation13.

Overall, incorporating hemp seeds into your diet can provide a wide array of health benefits, ranging from supporting heart, bone, brain, and immune health.

Benefits of Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are renowned for their numerous health benefits, thanks to their impressive nutritional composition.

Digestive Health

Chia seeds are an exceptional source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber supports digestive health by promoting regular bowel movements and the removal of toxins from the GI tract. Soluble fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria in your colon which is essential for maintaining good gut health.

Heart & Brain Health

Despite being tiny seeds, chia seeds pack a powerful punch of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA). These essential fatty acids are crucial for heart health, reducing inflammation, and supporting brain function.

Due to the omega-3 and fiber content, chia seeds can improve HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Chia seeds also contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can reduce your risk of developing several health conditions, including heart disease14.

Chia seeds are also a good source of selenium, which as previously mentioned, is not only good for cognitive health but also thyroid and immune health.

Blood Sugar Regulation

The soluble fiber content of chia seeds can help slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which may help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent spikes and crashes. This makes chia seeds particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition.

Antioxidant Properties

Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants, including flavonoids, polyphenols, quercetin, and caffeic acid. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and premature aging.

Weight Management

Chia seeds are often touted as a superfood for weight loss due to their ability to absorb large amounts of water and expand in the stomach, promoting feelings of fullness and reducing appetite. Incorporating chia seeds into meals or snacks can help control calorie intake and support weight management efforts.

Bone Health

Chia seeds are a good source of several minerals essential for bone health, including calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. These minerals play vital roles in maintaining strong and healthy bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Move over dairy. Just 30g (3 Tbsp) of chia seeds provides 190mg of calcium, making them an excellent plant-based source of calcium in the diet.

Hydration

When soaked in water or other liquids, chia seeds form a gel-like substance due to their high soluble fiber content. This gel can help retain moisture and prolong hydration, making chia seeds a popular choice among athletes and individuals with active lifestyles.

Overall, chia seeds offer numerous health benefits, including improved digestion, hydration, heart health, brain health, blood sugar regulation, weight management, antioxidant protection, and bone strength.

How To Add Them To Your Diet

OK, by now you may be sold on the benefits of these little superseeds but how can you incorporate them into your diet? Thankfully, there are so many easy and fun ways to add both hemp and chia seeds to your meals. Below are just a few ideas.

hemp seeds in oatmeal and berries

Hemp Seeds:

  1. Smoothies: Blend hemp seeds into your favorite smoothie recipes for an added boost of protein, healthy fats, and nutrients. They blend seamlessly and add a subtle nutty flavor.
  2. Salads: Sprinkle hemp seeds over salads to add a crunchy texture and nutty flavor. They complement both leafy greens and fruit salads, enhancing both taste and nutrition.
  3. Yogurt or Oatmeal Toppings: Stir hemp seeds into plant-based yogurt or sprinkle them over oatmeal along with fresh fruits, nuts, or maple syrup for a nutritious and satisfying breakfast or snack.
  4. Homemade Granola: Mix hemp seeds into homemade granola along with oats, nuts, dried fruit, and maple syrup. Bake until golden brown for a nutritious and delicious breakfast cereal or snack.
  5. Baking: Incorporate hemp seeds into baked goods such as muffins, bread, cookies, or energy bars for added texture, flavor, and nutritional value. They can be mixed into the batter or used as a topping before baking.

I found these vegan gluten-free bagels (O’Doughs) which I love toasting, adding peanut butter and sprinkling hemp seeds and a sprinkle of maple syrup on top. So good!

Chia Seeds:

chia pudding with berries a sprig of mint in a glass jar
  1. Chia Pudding: My number one recommendation! I eat this pretty much every morning. Make chia pudding by combining 1/4 cup chia seeds with 8 oz of your choice of milk (e.g., almond milk, soy milk), your favorite plant-based protein powder, and then add in some fruit. Some of my favorite fruit options are chopped-up mango or mashed raspberries. Stir and let it sit in the fridge overnight to thicken into a creamy pudding-like consistency. A fiber and protein bomb!
  2. Smoothie Bowls: Sprinkle chia seeds on top of smoothie bowls along with other toppings like granola, sliced fruit, coconut flakes, or nuts for added texture and nutritional benefits.
  3. Egg Replacement: Mix 1 Tbsp chia seeds with 3 Tbsp water and let stand for at least 5 minutes to create a gel-like consistency, similar to an egg. This can be used as an egg replacement in baking recipes.
  4. Salad Dressings: Blend chia seeds into homemade salad dressings for added thickness and nutritional value. They help emulsify the ingredients and provide extra fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
  5. Chia Water: A simple way to add chia seeds to your diet is to just add them to water. To make chia water soak 1/4 cup (40 grams) of chia seeds in 4 cups (1 liter) of water for 20–30 minutes. You can add some flavor by adding chopped fruit or squeezing in some citrus fruit like orange, lemon, or lime.

I also like adding chia seeds to overnight oats. One of my favorite recipes is pumpkin protein overnight oats.

These versatile seeds can easily be incorporated into your daily meals and snacks, providing a nutritious boost to your diet. Experiment with different recipes and enjoy the health benefits they offer!

Hemp Seeds Vs Chia Seeds Summary


The debate between hemp seeds vs chia seeds reveals two nutritional powerhouses, each offering unique benefits to enhance your health and well-being. Hemp seeds stand out for their high complete protein profile, optimal omega fatty acid ratio, and magnesium, zinc, and manganese content. On the other hand, chia seeds boast high fiber content, abundant omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium and selenium content.

Whether you’re seeking to boost your protein intake, support heart health, regulate blood sugar levels, or promote digestive wellness, both hemp and chia seeds have something valuable to offer. Incorporating these seeds into your diet can be as simple as sprinkling them over salads, blending them into smoothies, or using them as a substitute in baking recipes.

Ultimately, the choice between hemp seeds and chia seeds comes down to personal preference and dietary needs. Experimenting with both can provide a diverse range of flavors and textures while maximizing the nutritional benefits of these superfoods. So why not embrace the versatility of hemp and chia seeds and elevate your meals with these nutrient-rich additions? Your body will thank you for it!

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