Hemp seeds and chia seeds are two edible seeds known for their numerous health benefits.
Both have a mild, nutty taste and are rich in a variety of nutrients, including heart-healthy fats, protein, iron, and niacin (
However, while there are several similarities between these two seeds, there are many differences as well.
This article will compare and contrast the nutritional profiles, potential benefits, and downsides of hemp seeds and chia seeds, along with tips for adding each to your diet.
Though hemp seeds and chia seeds provide similar numbers of calories per serving, hemp seeds are higher in protein and fat, as well as several other nutrients, including manganese, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus.
On the other hand, chia seeds are lower in calories but contain more carbohydrates, fiber, and calcium in each serving.
Here is a closer look at the nutrients found in one serving each of hemp seeds and chia seeds (
Most of the fat found in both hemp and chia seeds is unsaturated, and both are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids in particular.
Both also contain a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation, improve heart health, and support brain function (
Chia seeds are lower in calories but higher in carbs, fiber, and calcium. Meanwhile, hemp seeds contain more fat, protein, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Both are rich in polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
Both chia seeds and hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and can be used interchangeably in many different dishes.
For instance, both make great additions to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurts, or salads to bump up the flavor, as well as the fat and fiber content.
However, unlike hemp seeds, chia seeds can absorb up to 15 times their dry weight in water, forming a soft, gel-like texture (
For this reason, chia seeds are often used to thicken puddings, soups, spreads, jams, and sauces. They can also be used as a binder in place of eggs to make vegan baked goods, including cookies or quick breads.
Conversely, hemp seeds retain their crisp texture when combined with liquid and can be used to add an extra crunch to brownies, muffins, or veggie burgers.
Hemp seed oil is also widely available and is often applied topically, used in place of other cooking oils, or mixed into drinks or salad dressings.
Chia seeds absorb liquid and swell up easily, making them useful for naturally thickening dishes or binding ingredients, while hemp seeds can add a crunchy texture to many foods. Hemp seed oil is also available and is applied topically, swapped in for other cooking oils, or mixed into drinks and salad dressings.
Chia seeds and hemp seeds have both been associated with several health benefits, thanks to the stellar nutrient profiles of each.
In fact, both are rich in antioxidants, which are beneficial compounds that can reduce inflammation and protect against chronic disease (
Both seeds are also great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-healthy fats with powerful anti-inflammatory effects (
Furthermore, both seeds provide hearty doses of protein in each serving. Protein is necessary for immune function, tissue repair, and muscle growth (
However, while both are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, hemp seeds contain a higher amount in each serving (
Additionally, though both seeds contain fiber, chia seeds contain approximately 10 times as much as hemp seeds (
Fiber moves slowly through the body, helping you feel fuller for longer (
Increasing your intake of fiber from nutrient-dense foods like chia seeds may also help support blood sugar management, lower cholesterol levels, digestive health, and bowel regularity (
Hemp and chia seeds are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. Both contain omega-3 fatty acids and protein, though hemp seeds provide a higher amount. Chia seeds contain more fiber, which can support regularity, blood sugar management, heart health, and satiety.
Chia seeds are high in fiber, packing about 10 grams into each ounce (28 grams) (
Increasing your intake of fiber very quickly can increase the risk of digestive issues, such as bloating, gas, and stomach pain (
Furthermore, because chia seeds can absorb large amounts of liquid and expand in size, they could increase the risk of choking in people who have difficulty swallowing (14).
For this reason, it’s a good idea to let chia seeds soak in liquid for 5-10 minutes before consuming them to reduce the risk of choking.
You can learn more about the potential side effects of eating too many chia seeds here.
Additionally, both types of seeds may trigger allergic reactions in some people (
If you experience any negative side effects after eating hemp seeds or chia seeds, or if you have any questions or concerns about adding them to your diet, discontinue use immediately and talk with a medical professional.
Chia seeds are high in fiber and could cause digestive issues if consumed in large amounts. They may also increase the risk of choking for people with swallowing difficulties. Additionally, both chia seeds and hemp seeds could trigger allergic reactions in some people.
Compared with chia seeds, hemp seeds contain higher amounts of heart-healthy fats, protein, and several micronutrients, such as manganese, magnesium, and copper.
Therefore, if you’re looking to increase your calorie consumption, bump up your fat intake, or add more plant-based protein to your diet, hemp seeds can be a great option.
On the other hand, chia seeds are lower in calories yet higher in fiber and calcium.
This may make chia seeds a better choice if you’re trying to increase your fiber intake, lose weight, or improve your digestive health.
However, both hemp seeds and chia seeds can be nutritious additions to a healthy, well-rounded diet.
Therefore, you may want to consider your health goals and how you plan to use hemp or chia seeds to determine which is best, as each may be better suited for different types of recipes.
Hemp seeds can help increase your intake of calories, fat, and plant-based protein. On the other hand, chia seeds can boost your intake of fiber, which can support weight loss and digestive health.
Hemp seeds and chia seeds are both highly nutritious and rich in antioxidants, plant-based protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats.
Chia seeds can be used as a natural thickener and binder, while hemp seeds are great for adding texture to recipes. Both can also be added to smoothies, spreads, yogurts, and oatmeal dishes.
Though hemp seeds and chia seeds differ slightly in terms of their potential uses and nutritional profile, both can be excellent additions to a healthy, balanced diet.