As the health-conscious demographic gains more and more online presence, the world accepts the importance of a healthy diet. One of the healthy additions in our daily diets that have been catching up fast is super seeds. Nowadays, you’ll find hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds in almost every supermarket or online pantry.
In this article, we will be comparing these super seeds against each other to see which one supersedes (pun intended) them all. We will discuss flax vs chia vs hemp and try to reach a definite conclusion about their health benefits and, moreover, the real difference between them. Without further ado, let’s take a look at these super seeds one by one.
Hemp seeds essentially refer to the seeds of the hemp plant known as Cannabis sativa. If it sounds closer to the recreational drug marijuana, that’s because it is. Hemp seeds originate from cannabis; both are from the same species but are just a different variety.
But they do contain negligible traces of THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive compound found in marijuana. Unbeknownst to many, hemp seeds are extremely rich in proteins, healthy fats, and minerals, making them an exceptionally nutritious addition to your diet.
Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are rich in protein; every 30 grams of hemp seeds contain 9.46 grams of protein. They provide all 9 amino acids essential to the body. Since our body cannot produce all 9 amino acids by itself, they need to be absorbed through the diet.
This makes hemp seeds a great choice for every demographic, including the vegan community. This is probably why hemp protein powder is considered one of the best protein sources in vegan fitness enthusiasts.
Hemp seeds are also a source of essential fatty acids, namely alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which happens to be an omega-3. Hemp seeds are low in saturated fats and include no trans fat. Try purchasing hemp seeds with the hull intact since most of the fiber content of hemp seeds lies in the outer shell.
But if you cannot get your hands on that exact kind, you’ll still absorb 1.2 grams of fiber from every 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds. As for minerals and vitamins, hemp seeds are rich in vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. They also provide valuable iron, zinc, and vitamin B.
This makes hemp seeds one of the most popular choices among vegan food sources of zinc and iron. Hemp seeds are also known to keep your brain healthy, reduce the chances of cardiovascular diseases and inflammation, improve skin ailments, and provide relief against rheumatoid arthritis.
Just like hemp seeds, chia seeds are yet another extremely valuable kind of super seed. These edible seeds originate from the desert plant, Salvia hispanica, which is grown in Mexico.
The interesting part is that chia seeds and their extraction from these dessert plants date back to the Mayan and Aztec cultures. The word “chia” means strength, and going by ancient folklore, these cultures consumed chia seeds as an energy booster.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
One ounce of chia seeds contains 138 calories, 4.7 grams of protein, 8.7 grams of fat, 5 grams of Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), 11.9 grams of carbs, 9.8 grams of fiber, 14% calcium of the daily value (DV), 12% iron of the DV, 23% magnesium of the DV, 20% phosphorous of the DV, 12% zinc of the DV, 15% vitamin B1 of the DV, AND 16% vitamin B3 of the DV.
With 10 grams of dietary fiber every one ounce, chia seeds are a great healthy alternative.
They are packed with antioxidants and have been proven effective against heart conditions. Rich in phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, chia seeds is great for bone health. If you want to get rid of diabetes, these super seeds can provide much-needed assurance.
Available in 2 basic varieties- brown and yellow/golden- flax seeds are also exceptional additions to a nutritional diet. They are available all year and are usually slightly larger than sesame seeds. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, flax seeds have a smooth and hard shell.
Needless to mention, vegans are predisposed to variety of nutrient deficiencies including omega-3. This makes flax seeds an attractive staple in a plant based diet.
The earthy, warm, and subtly nutty flavor of flax seeds makes it a delicious yet healthy breakfast option. It fills and digests easily. Throw it in your morning smoothie or make a pudding out of it. Flax seeds will gel almost instantaneously with anything.
Health Benefits of Flax Seeds
One tablespoon of flax seeds contains 37 calories, 2 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, 1.3 grams of protein, 10% thiamine of the daily value (DV), 9% copper of the DV, 8% manganese of the DV, 7% magnesium of the DV, 4% phosphorous of the DV, 3% selenium of the DV, 3% zinc of the DV, 2% vitamin B6 of the DV, 2% iron of the DV, and 2% folate of the DV.
Flax seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower the chances of stroke. For postmenopausal women, flax seeds can help reduce the risks of breast cancer. Flax seeds have both soluble and insoluble fibers, which promote good gut health and bowel regularity.
4 tablespoons of flax seeds a day can reduce the chances of LDL cholesterol by 15%. These super seeds have also been considered effective against high blood pressure. They maintain a healthy blood sugar level and, most importantly, promote your weight loss journey.
Hemp Seeds vs Chia Seeds vs Flax Seeds: The Real Difference
While there are obvious differences between chia seeds vs flax seeds vs hemp seeds, the good news is that they are all extremely nutritional and healthy. So, if you can get your hands on any one of them, you have made a significant start towards a healthy lifestyle. As for the prime differences, take a look:
Hemp seeds originated in Central Asia. Its cultivation for fiber was first recorded in China as far back as 2800 BCE. It was practiced in the Mediterranean countries of Europe back in the Christian era, later spreading through the rest of Europe sometime during the Middle Ages. They are the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.
Chia seeds originate from the desert plant, Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico. The chia seeds and their subsequent extraction from these desert plants can be traced back to the Mayan and Aztec cultures.
Flax seeds come from flax plants (Linum usitatissimum). Flax plants are known to grow to be about 2 feet tall. As for their origin, flax seeds were likely first grown in Egypt, but gradually the practice of growing them caught up with the rest of the world.
2. Taste and Texture
You know the fine line between pine nuts and sunflower seeds? That’s what hemp seeds taste like. They have a considerably nutty, earthy taste and can be thrown into smoothies, puddings, breakfast cereal, shakes, juices, oatmeals, and more. They have a hard shell which makes their exterior crunchy, much like sunflower seeds, and nutty and soft inside.
Chia seeds do not have much taste of their own. They take on the taste of whatever food they are mixed in. When thrown in with any fluid, they plump up, forming a gelatinous coating, which is easy to digest.
Add them to smoothies, juices, puddings, cereals, or anything similar, and you will have a hearty meal. Their texture is mostly dense and crunchy. But when added to liquid, they come soft like tapioca balls.
Flaxseed is flat and oval-shaped. They are a little larger than sesame seeds, with a chewy and crisp texture. They have a nutty flavor which makes them a treat to have. They are brown or yellow in color. The earthy flavor goes well with breakfast cereals, juices, smoothies, and such.
As for the nutritional value of hemp seeds vs chia seeds vs flax seeds, they are all highly nutritious and can be had as a healthy weight loss alternative. Here’s what you need to know about their comparable nutritional values:
|Nutritional Information||Hemp Seeds (100 grams)||Chia Seeds (100 grams)||Flax Seeds (100 grams)|
4. Protein Content
The protein content in super seeds is essential for our well-being, so it’s important that you know the protein content in the foods you are consuming. Let’s take a look at the amino acid profiles of hemp seeds vs. chia seeds vs. flax seeds:
|Hemp Seeds||Chia seeds||flax seeds|
|Histidine: 0.69g||Histidine: 0.53g||Histidine: 1.89g|
|Isoleucine: 0.57g||Isoleucine: 0.80g||Isoleucine: 2.68g|
|Leucine: 2.13g||Leucine: 1.37g||Leucine: 6.15g|
|Lysine: 1.24g||Lysine: 0.97g||Lysine: 3.90g|
|Methionine: 0.31g||Methionine: 0.59g||Methionine: 2.13g|
|Phenylalanine: 0.86g||Phenylalanine: 1.02g||Phenylalanine: 4.31g|
|Threonine: 1.71g||Threonine: 0.71g||Threonine: 3.66g|
|Tryptophan: 0.20g||Tryptophan: 0.44g||Tryptophan: 0.80g|
|Valine: 1.10g||Valine: 0.95g||Valine: 3.48g|
|Alanine: 3.49g||Alanine: 1.04g||Alanine: 5.58g|
|Arginine: 3.11g||Arginine: 2.14g||Arginine: 9.57g|
|Aspartic acid: 1.55g||Aspartic acid: 1.69g||Aspartic acid: 9.09g|
|Cystine: 0.41g||Glutamic acid: 3.50g||Cystine: 0.83g|
|Glutamic acid: 7.73g||Glycine: 0.94g||Glutamic acid: 24.14g|
|Glycine: 0.38g||Proline: 0.78g|
|Praline: 0.51g||Serine: 1.05g|
|Serine: 0.33g||Tyrosine: 0.56g|
Which is Better for you: Hemp Seeds vs Chia Seeds vs Flax Seeds
While each of these 3 super seeds serves varied purposes for the human body, they are all exceptionally good for health and are often recommended by health experts worldwide.
Hemp seeds have the highest protein and zinc content when juxtaposed with flax and chia seeds. Flax seeds, on the other hand, boast the highest ALA and omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
Lastly, chia seeds have the most calcium and fiber out of the three. So, choose one based on your needs. If your body is short on calcium, chia seeds it is. Similarly, choose the others based on your body’s requirements. In general, all three are great healthy options for your meals.