Hemp seeds vs chia vs flax

In the world of superfoods, seeds always rank highly. Each seed has its own properties and nutritional benefits. But when it's hemp seeds vs chia seeds vs flax seeds, which will win?

Chia seeds have been big news for a while. Flax seeds are famously healthy and have been used for centuries. But hemp seeds are relative newcomers and proving popular. They are used in drinks, baking and can be added to meals and salads.

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Hemp, chia and flax – what do they have in common?

All these seeds come from plants so they are suitable for vegetarians and vegans, with organic versions available. In terms of nutrition they can each claim to be:

  • Complete proteins providing all the essential amino acids
  • A source of polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and 6)
  • Sources of plant-based protein and fibre
  • Full of vitamins and minerals
  • Gluten-free

Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds – or hearts as they are also known – have the highest protein per serving. This may surprise the chia fans who love the little black beauties for their protein content. Hemp seeds lose out to chia seeds for fibre though. Powdered hemp seeds are also available and added to protein drinks or smoothies.

Hemp seeds contain three times the amount of omega 6 to omega 3. These fatty acids are known to support healthy heart function by balancing cholesterol levels. Lastly, hemp seeds contain iron and zinc, both vital for optimum health.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds come out top for the highest fibre content. They’re easy to digest and don’t need to be ground like flax seeds. This is also the type of soluble fibre that helps lower cholesterol levels.

The fibre adds bulk to meals, helping us feel full for longer and improving digestion. This has the effect of controlling blood sugars as well.

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In addition, chia seeds contain 27% of your daily phosphorus requirements, the highest of the three seeds. They also provide 18% of your recommended daily calcium intake.

Flax seeds

Flax seeds are the cheapest of the three and one of the original superfoods. They have long been a health food staple. However, they must be ground before eating or they will just pass through the system without releasing any goodness.

Flax is a rich source of lignans, which block the enzymes involved with hormone metabolism. In turn, these can fight the growth of tumour cells. Flax has other antioxidant properties too, so may inhibit oxidation and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

It comes top for omega 3 fatty acid content which contributes to healthy heart and brain function.

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Everyone's a winner

A good range of super seeds like hemp, chia and flax in a predominantly plant-based diet boost nutritional health. So they are all winners in this contest.

Hemp seeds win on protein but lose on fibre. Chia wins on fibre and ranks with flax on protein. Whereas flax, the old-timer, wins on price and omega 3 levels.

Whatever your diet or nutrition goals, it’s not just a case of hemp seed vs chia seeds vs flax seeds. Combine all three to achieve the maximum health benefits.

Claire McKenna

Claire McKenna is a content writer and editor with a background in consumer, medical and lifestyle publishing. Away from work she ushers at a theatre, does yoga challenges and loves a good podcast.

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