Chia seeds and hemp seeds are often listed alongside flax seeds as superfoods. If you are trying to choose between them, you will need to consider what each has to offer. Our chia seeds vs. hemp seeds SPICEography Showdown will show you how the two seeds compare to each other. Let’s break things down.
How are chia seeds and hemp seeds different?
The obvious difference between chia and hemp seeds is the fact that they come from two unrelated plants. They have different appearances and are used differently. Hemp seeds are larger, golden brown, and have an oval shape while chia seeds are small and speckled but mostly black. You also use them differently. To get the most from chia seeds, you will need to soak them. Chia seeds are mucilaginous, which means that they contain a soluble fiber that becomes gelatinous when it comes into contact with water. Mucilage is great for improving the speed at which food passes through the bowels as well as for reducing cholesterol in the blood. Chia seeds are rich in several minerals including calcium and phosphorus.
Hemp seeds contain more than twice the amount of chia seeds’ protein in the same serving size; however, you will not get as much fiber. Hemp seeds are not mucilaginous. They also have iron, which you won’t find in chia seeds but they lack the chia seeds’ calcium. Both seeds provide zinc, but hemp seeds provide much more of it.
Both types of seeds are good sources of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, but chia seeds contain a lot more of the omega 3 acids while hemp seeds contain more of the omega 6 fatty acids.
Chia seeds have a mildly nutty flavor that is similar to the extremely mild flavor of poppy seeds. When used in small amounts, the flavor is almost undetectable; however, they are dense with an intense crunch like poppy seeds. Note that the crunch only lasts as long as it takes for the seeds to absorb water. When they are placed in contact with water, they quickly become soft. Hemp seeds have a nutty taste with earthy notes that makes their taste similar to that of sunflower seeds.
Can you use chia seeds as substitutes for hemp seeds and vice versa?
From a nutritional standpoint, both seeds are good for you even though they each have their own distinct nutritional profile. The fact that they differ in terms of size, appearance and texture means that may not work well in all the same dishes. For example, chia seeds are often used as vegan egg substitutes. They are soaked in water so that they release their mucilage. They can then be added to any baked goods that require a binder. Because hemp seeds are not mucilaginous, they cannot replace chia seeds in vegan recipes since they will not help to bind ingredients.
Hemp seeds are often added to dishes to provide a crunchy texture. They can be sprinkled over oatmeal or salads like sunflower seeds or pine nuts. While chia seeds can be used in salads, they should be consumed quickly as they will soften as soon as they absorb moisture. That ability to soak up moisture and to get soft makes them unsuitable for providing a crunchy texture to wet foods like oatmeal.
When should you use chia seeds and when should you use hemp seeds?
Use chia seeds if you need to replace eggs in baked goods or if you need a poppy seed substitute. You can use them to top bread and other baked goods as you would use poppy seeds. Use hemp seeds in the same way that you would use sunflower seeds or pine nuts. Sprinkle them over vegetables or use them to top casseroles.