How do flax, chia and hemp seeds compare?

photo via The Sweet Beet

By now many of you have likely tried flax seeds to add a healthy dose of omega-3s (an essential fatty acid important for its anti-inflammatory effects) and fiber to your diet.  Other seeds that deserve consideration are chia and hemp seeds.  Here's a quick look at how they compare.  

*They all have roughly the same amount of calories 150/oz (3 Tbsp).

*Flax and Chia have about the same amount of protein (4-5 grams/oz) while hemp seeds have roughly 10g/oz.  Try adding hemp when looking for a protein boost!

*Flax and Chia are high in Omega-3s (roughly 4 grams/oz) while hemp has very little.  There is no RDA for Omega 3s, but the ideal is 2 grams or more daily and most people don't get that.
Note: Omega 3s from animal sources are more readily used by the body than from plant sources.

*Chia seeds have very little taste, but they do absorb water and take on a gelatinous consistency when wet which makes them great for preventing blood sugar spikes when added to other carbohydrate foods (aka lowers the glycemic response of foods).  The texture is different.  It may take some getting used to, especially for texture sensitive kids.

* Flax seeds should be ground for the most bioavailability while hemp and chia don't require that extra step.

* According to Nutrition Data hemp seeds are a good source of iron, chia of calcium and flax a little of both.   All are high in fiber and plenty of other vitamins and minerals.

So each little seed has plenty of positives and really no negatives.  My suggestion is to use them all, together or separately, in soups, smoothies, salads etc.  The one benefit of chia over flax in my book is that you don't have to grind less step! 

Here's a fun chia recipe for spring/summer!

PS, when researching for this article, I came across The Sweet Beet, a blog about knowing your food and eating better but less while being more satisfied.  Check it out and be inspired by her food philosophy!

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