Hemp Seeds Vs. Chia Seeds: Differences & Health Benefits
Edible seeds of many kinds are incredibly healthy choices to add to your diet, and for many reasons. These can include sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and more.
However, certain seeds have garnered a lot more attention in the health world than others. It’s all thanks to their health benefits and impressive nutrients, along with the scientific studies and research that have discovered more and more about them.
Two of the healthiest known seeds in this arena are chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) and hemp seeds (Cannabis sativa). What’s interesting about them is they are very similar…but they also have notable differences.
What are the differences and health benefits of hemp seeds vs. chia seeds? Read on to learn more and find out.
Hemp Seeds Vs. Chia Seeds: The Differences
In a nutshell, the main differences between chia seeds and hemp seeds are that:
- Have more calories.
- Contain more carbohydrates.
- Are higher in calcium and phosphorus.
- Contain more fat.
- Contain more protein.
- Contain a greater variety of trace minerals.
Both hemp seeds and chia seeds are very good for health. The biggest similarity between these two foods is that they are both are rich in healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats. Both also provide complete plant proteins, a long list of amino acids, and antioxidants galore.
Nutrition Information Of Hemp Seeds Vs. Chia Seeds
The main difference between hemp seeds vs. chia seeds is the nutritional content. That said, what is the full list of nutritional values between hemp seeds vs. chia seeds?
Chia seed nutrients (general nutritional content)
Dietary soluble fiber
Whole plant proteins. Many amino acids, including:
- Aspartic acid
- Glutamic acid
B Vitamins, including:
Omega-3 fatty acids, including
- A-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Caffeic acid
- Gallic acid
- …and more
Hemp seed nutrients (general nutritional content)
Dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble)
- B vitamins
- Vitamin E
Whole plant proteins, including
- Amino acids, including:
- Glutamic acid
Polyunsaturated fats, including:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Health Benefits Of Hemp Seeds Vs. Chia Seeds
There are some notable differences between hemp seeds and chia seeds in terms of their health benefits. There are also some overlaps.
Studies show chia seeds are good for supporting heart health, regulating blood sugars, reducing risk of diabetes (and diabetes symptoms), and preventing obesity. Due to their high antioxidant content, they can also reduce chronic inflammation, reduce cancer risk, and may support certain inflammatory diseases (including digestive inflammatory disease). Because they’re higher in calories they can also help you put on weight.
Hemp seeds, on the other hand, are shown to also support heart health, reduce inflammation, reduce cancer risk, and promote healthier digestion. They may also have additional possible health benefits such as supporting women’s hormonal health, skin health, and more.
Since hemp seeds are very high in protein they may help some people build muscle and lose weight. It can also have a subtle secondary effect of promoting or supporting relaxation and soothing feelings of stress or anxiety, due to small amounts of naturally-occurring CBD.
How To Use Hemp Seeds And Chia Seeds
Compared to chia seeds, hemp seeds require more work and processing before they’re ready to consume. Seeds need to be “hulled” or shelled so that what you have left are the tender edible centers of the seeds or the “hemp hearts.” Doing this also helps get rid of a great deal of hemp’s acrid flavor, which can put some people off.
Once you have these, hemp hearts can be used in food in many ways. They can be sprinkled on top of many different types of dishes: salads, cereal, granola, yogurt, and even baked quick bread or yeast breads for both beauty and nutrition. Bon Appetit recommends incorporating them into breadcrumb coating mixes for an extra nutrient boost.
Chia seeds don’t require any preparation to eat or enjoy. They can be sprinkled freely atop many types of foods or dishes in the very same way as hemp seeds and are big favorites for salads, cereals, or smoothies. People tend to have little issue with their flavor because it is so subtle.
However, many people may choose to soak chia seeds so they take on their “bulked up” form, which gives the seeds a softer texture more like tapioca or psyllium husk. In this form people make chia seeds into pudding but also add them to smoothies, marinades, sauces, and more to both thicken and add more nutrition.
Soaking only takes a few minutes. You can soak your chia seeds in water or milk. They are ready to use once they have visibly “swelled” or bulked up.
Possible Side Effects Of Eating Hemp Seeds And Chia Seeds
Both hemp seeds and chia seeds are absolutely safe to eat. For some people and certain situations, however, there may be some uncomfortable side effects to be mindful of.
If you eat too many of either type of seed you do run the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort. This can be severe constipation (or a severe laxative effect), diarrhea, bloating, nausea, vomiting, gas, and abdominal pain.
Always test out a food for possible allergies if you are planning on consuming it in substantial qualities or regularly for health purposes. This can be done using a skin patch test. If you have a food allergy to hempseed or chia seeds, this may manifest as the above symptoms plus inflammation, itchy skin, headaches, and more.
Talk to your doctor if you experience any strange symptoms while consuming chia seeds or hempseed.
Hemp seeds and chia seeds are both very good for you— but in different ways. They contain a lot of the same nutrition and have some similar health benefits.
They also have wellness properties all their own and unique to each of them. Hemp seed can support anxiety and nervousness, for example, while chia seeds may have stronger digestive supporting benefits. Hemp seeds also have higher of some nutrients than chia seeds, and the inverse is true of chia seeds, too.
You can include both in your diet for the most optimal health and nutrition possible. Or, depending on your health or even weight loss goals, you can choose hemp seeds vs. chia seeds one over the other— it all depends on you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Neither is healthier than the other. But you might want to use each for different health benefits (though they both have a lot of health benefit overlaps). For more healthy plant fats and gaining weight, you’ll want to eat more chia seeds. If you’d like to lose more weight and get more plant proteins in your diet go with hemp seeds.
Most report that chia seeds are way more palatable than hemp seeds. Hemp seeds that still have their hulls can have a strong bitter, pungent, or acrid flavor that can be difficult for some people to enjoy. That said, you can buy hulled or shelled hemp seeds—also called hemp hearts— which are white in color rather than dark brown, black, or grey. These will have less of this flavor.
Both are equally nutritious but contain varying sets of nutrients. Hemp seeds and chia seeds both contain antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and plant proteins. Hemp seed contains more plant proteins and amino acids. Chia seeds contain more polyunsaturated fats and are higher in fiber.
Many will say chia seeds are easier to use than hemp seeds. But that depends. If you want to use soaked chia seeds this requires an extra step that hemp seeds don’t require. If you want to get rid of some of hemp seed’s acrid flavor, on the other hand, this also requires removing the shells or hulls first. This can be more time-consuming than soaking chia seeds. That said, you can purchase pre-hulled hemp seeds from stores which will save you the work. If that’s the case, hemp seeds are less work to process and use than chia seeds.
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