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Hemp Seeds vs Chia Seeds

hemp seeds vs. chia seeds

I try hard to make my kids active in their nutrition. We have a constant dialogue about food choices so that I don’t feel like the dictator of what goes into their mouth.

One way I like to allow them to be active in their health is by creating opportunities for them to self-select healthy options. I have organized my pantry in such a way that they can build their own morning oatmeal, trail mixes, and grab healthy snacks that are focused at their eye level. As they open the pantry, mason jars are filled with healthy nuts and seeds to give them the freedom to make healthy choices.

Seeds have been enjoyed for a long time. Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are all very popular seeds that have likely been a part of your diet. But a few seeds are gaining popularity and are merging as the lead stars: chia seed and hemp seeds. I am sure you have heard of them, and you’ve probably seen both of them at your local grocery store.

These seeds actually have been consumed for hundreds of years, but now they are quickly growing in popularity and for good reason. Let’s take a look at these two super seeds. We will dive into what they are, why they are “super” and how you can add them to your daily diet.  

What are these super seeds?

First off…what are seeds? By definition, they are a plant’s unit of reproduction. They come in many different shapes and sizes. Seeds can be eaten in many different ways including raw or toasted. Seeds can also be pressed to extract the oil. It is important to note that many seeds are sensitive to heat and should be kept in the refrigerator to prevent going rancid and help extend their shelf life. When not kept cold it is best to keep them out of the sunlight. Keep them contained in covered glass containers or well-sealed bags.

Chia seeds

For many of you, the first thing you may think when you see the word chia are chia pets. Remember those cute clay pets you covered in seeds and they grew to be green plants? Yep, those are the same seeds. However, instead of just watching them grow on a clay animal, many people are now adding them to their diet. They are very tiny little seeds and should be black or white in color.  

Chia seeds were originally grown in Central America, and they’re actually a member of the mint family.  Aztec warriors ate chia seeds to give them energy and endurance. The warriors simply added chia seeds to water or ate them plain to help keep them full for long periods of time. Chia seeds are rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamin, and minerals. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 6 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbohydrates and 7 grams of “good” for you fat. They also contain a whopping 10 grams of filling fiber which can help keep the hunger away. In addition, they contain calcium, potassium, iron, and much more.   

Benefits

Chia seeds have been known to have a long list of health benefits. Due to their high level of antioxidants, they can help reduce signs of aging and keep your skin looking great. They have two times the number of antioxidants as blueberries! The fiber helps keep your digestive tract in check and keeps your heart healthy. Packed with calcium, chia seeds will keep your bones strong, and the plant-based protein will help build muscles. Plant-based protein is protein sourced from non-animal products. The omega-3 fatty acids help raise “good” HDL cholesterol which protects against heart disease and stroke.

Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are another nutritional powerhouse. Now, hemp seeds aren’t quite as popular as chia seeds, but are quickly catching up. Let’s go ahead and clear up any curiosity out of the gate — hemp seeds do not have any psychotropic effects. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant, however, it contains such a slight level of THC that it will not get you high.  

These little seeds deliver a lot of nutritional benefits and are a great addition to your diet. Most hemp that we consume in the United States is grown in Canada. The great thing about the hemp plant is that it requires almost no pesticides or herbicides so it is considered a sustainable product which means it is good for the earth (and less junk for you).   

Benefits

Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, are just what they say they are…the seeds of the hemp plant.  Hemp plants grow popcorn kernel sized hard seeds. Inside these seeds lie the white or green inner kernels know as hemp seeds. You cannot get any nutrition from the hard outer shells so what you are purchasing are those inner kernels filled with lots of nutritional goodness.

They have great nutrition stats with 2 tablespoons coming in at a little over 6 grams of protein, about 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 10 grams fats containing both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats have been linked to helping those with skin conditions such as eczema. Not to mention, both soluble and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber dissolves in water and gets absorbed by your body. However, insoluble fiber cannot be dissolved and passes through the body intact. This type of fiber helps gently clean out your digestive tract.

There are many other benefits to consuming hemp seeds including containing minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Due to their high levels of amino acids they may reduce the risk of heart disease. They have also been shown to lower symptoms of PMS and menopause.

Hemp seeds vs. chia seeds, which one do I eat?

Both hemp seeds and chia seeds are gluten free and vegan for those following specific diet guidelines and both seeds contain about 6 grams of plant-based protein per two tablespoons. As mentioned earlier, plant-based protein is a protein that comes from non-animal sources and is popular for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.  

The protein they contain is considered a complete protein. There are 20 different amino acids that can form a protein and nine of them cannot be produced by the body which are called essential amino acids.

To be considered a complete protein the food must contain all nine of these amino acids in relatively even amounts. Since both chia seeds and hemp seeds contain complete protein, they are an excellent plant-based source.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are very versatile and can be consumed in many different ways. The nice thing about chia seeds is they really don’t have much flavor. They won’t impact the taste of what you add them to.  You can grind them into a powder or consume them whole. Some even just add them to water and drink up. You can sprinkle them onto whatever you are eating for a nutritional boost.  

Another really interesting thing about chia seeds is they absorb liquid and can hold almost 10 times their weight in fluids. If you put them in liquid they will form a gel-like substance. Many vegan baked goods replace eggs with chia seeds soaked in water called a chia egg. That absorption acts like a binder similar to how eggs act.

You can also make chia seed pudding which is very popular. This is made by adding chia seeds to a liquid, usually cow or plant-based milk, and letting it sit overnight. The result in the morning is a pudding-like consistency packed with nutrition.

Being real honest…my husband loves the texture of chia puddings, but me, not so much.  That same absorption rate makes chia seeds a great thickener for oatmeal, smoothies or even salad dressings. Here are a few recipes ideas if you want to try out chia seeds.

Chia Seed Recipes

Chocolate Chip Chia Seed Granola Bars

Chia Pudding

Five Minute Raspberry Chia Seed Jam

Chia Seed Pizza Crust

Lemon Chia Seed Dressing

Hemp Seeds

Ok so now you have chia seeds down it is time to move on to how you enjoy hemp seeds. Hemp seeds have more flavor than chia seeds. They have been described as having a slightly nutty or grassy flavor and many say they taste like a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut.

Hemp seeds can be pressed to make hemp seed oil, leaving behind a powdery byproduct that can be used as a hemp-based protein powder. The oil is very delicate and is best used as a finishing oil rather than for cooking. So it would be great to drizzle over pasta or used in salad dressings.

Hemp seeds can also be blended with water to make hemp milk which is a great plant-based non-dairy beverage option.

However, the more common way to consume hemp seeds is as the whole seed or hemp hearts as they are commonly referred to as. They can be eaten raw or dry-toasted to bring out even more of the nutty taste. Hemp seeds are a great addition to sprinkle on foods like yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, and even salads.  They easily blend into your favorite smoothie recipe.

For those with who want to avoid gluten-containing breadcrumbs, they can be used as a breadcrumb substitute to coat chicken or fish.

Here are a few recipes to get you started with adding hemp seeds to your diet.

Hemp Seed Recipes

Hemp Seed Pesto

Low Carb Cauliflower Breadsticks With Garlic Butter and Hemp Seeds

Chocolate Hemp Overnight Oatmeal Smoothie

DIY Hemp Milk

Hemp Seed Crusted Baked Cod

Are you looking for a super seed double whammy? Check out these recipes that combine both chia seeds and hemp seeds for maximum nutrition!

Chia Seed & Hemp Seed Recipes

Feel Good Superfood Grain Bowl

Grain Free Hemp Seed Breakfast Cookies

Clean Eating No-Bake Raw Hemp and Chia Seed Bars

Super Healthy Broccoli Salad

Chocolate Superfood Energy Balls

Ultimate Superfood Breakfast Bars

Hemp and chia seeds are becoming nutritional superstars for good reason. Take a step outside of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to experiment and add these into your diet.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy hemp or chia seeds?

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

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