Hemp seeds are widely considered to be a superfood with immense nutritional value. They are also versatile enough to be added to your diet in numerous ways; however, they are not always the easiest food to find in brick and mortar grocery stores. If you cannot source these seeds and need them in a hurry, try one of the hemp seed substitutes below.
Your best bet: Flax seeds
Flax seeds come from another ancient plant that (like hemp) was once best known for its fibers. That is just one of the similarities between flax and hemp seed. The protein it provides is another important similarity in that while flax seeds contain less protein than hemp, they provide all of the nine essential amino acids and are considered a complete protein source as a result. Hemp seeds also contain all nine essential amino acids.
Along with being nutritionally similar, flax seeds can also make a good hemp seed substitute in terms of their flavor and texture. Flax seeds bring the flavor of toasted nuts along with a mild crunch that can work in many of the same applications for which hemp seeds would be used. Flax seeds actually provide more than twice the amount of fiber that you would get from hemp seeds.
Use flax seeds as a 1:1 substitute for hemp seeds.
A decent second choice: Chia seeds
The chia plant from which chia seeds come is a member of the mint family. The plant is believed to be native to South America and its seeds were staples of the Aztec diet. More recently, chia seeds have gained popularity as a source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Like hemp seeds, they also provide significant amounts of fiber and a variety of essential minerals including magnesium and zinc. Research suggests that they can be beneficial for supporting heart health by lowering cholesterol.
While the size and appearance of chia seeds do differ from those of hemp seeds, they can serve the same role in many dishes and can be consumed in many of the same ways. Your options include sprinkling them into smoothies or over salads. You can add them to oatmeal and other cereals as well. In salads and similar applications, chia seeds can give you a satisfying crunch with a very mild nuttiness.
Because chia seeds are smaller in size, you will need to use more of them when using them to replace hemp seeds. Use roughly twice the amount of chia seeds as your recipe’s requirement for hemp seeds.
In a pinch: Sunflower seeds
The seeds of the Helianthus annuus plant are well known as a tasty snack with a nutty flavor. Their flavor and texture are just a couple of things that sunflower seeds have in common with hemp seeds as they are also rich in some of the same nutrients. Like hemp seeds, sunflower seeds are a rich source of folate and other B vitamins. Both also contain vitamin E with sunflower seeds being a far better source of it than hemp seeds.
You can use sunflower seeds in many of the same ways that you would use hemp seeds, including as a breading on chicken or fish and as a crunchy addition to your salads. The main factor that makes sunflower seeds a great substitute for hemp seeds is convenience as sunflower seeds are much easier to find and thus less expensive when compared to hemp seeds.
Use sunflower seeds as a 1:1 substitute for hemp seeds.
Pine nuts are often recommended as a substitute for hemp seeds in terms of flavor and texture. While they do not have as much protein or omega 3 fatty acids, they are actually a better source of omega 6 fatty acids.