“Super-seeds” compared: What is the healthiest seed – hemp, flax or chia?
Nutritional value is the ultimate desire of any one that wants to live a good healthy lifestyle. There are amazing health benefits associated with three common seeds that one can easily incorporate into their daily lives. These seeds are hemp seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds and they are particularly sought after for their nutritional content, especially valuable essential fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6. All three provide great health benefits, however, each one of them has varied nutritional content and value. Let’s take a closer look at these three super-seeds:
These seeds are great when added to any vegetarian diet, as they are a complete plant based protein making it an excellent alternative to meat, fish and eggs. In fact that is what hemp seeds are most known for – they are one among a rare group of plant-based foods that contain the essential protein required for the human body. Their protein is easily digested (better digestibility then soy or whey protein) into the human digestive system and contains all the 20 vital amino acids. Hemp seeds also contain enormous amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and the precisely essential omega-6 fatty acid (GLA) which is non-existence in any other food. Furthermore, in hemp seeds the ratio of omega 3 to 6 is optimal for the human body at 1:3, compared to flax for example which although contains more omega-3 in ratio to omega-6, is ultimately not ideal in balance for human consumption at 4:1.
Hemp seeds are very effective in assisting in long-term weight loss. This is largely due to hemp seed’s ability to prevent spikes in insulin/blood sugar, which in turn helps in regulating the glycemic levels and keeping them at lower levels. In addition they keep you feeling fuller for longer due to their wonderful fiber and rich protein content.
Hemp has much higher protein content than both chia and flax seeds. Hemp seeds have high fiber content as well and are very rich in minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, manganese and magnesium. They also have rare anti-inflammatory qualities that make them unique compared to other seeds and nuts. Best of all, to reap the rewards from hemp seeds you will not be required to grind or mill them like with the case of flax seeds. They are easy to incorporate into many recipes, sprinkle them over any food or even just eat them on their own, because guess what – they taste great!
These seeds are found in wide range foods nowadays. They’ve been on in the food industry for quite some time and have had much exposure. Making them easy to obtain and easy to find in many prepared food products. However, to benefit from the seed the most you will exhaustively be required to grind the seed. Just like hemp seeds, flax seeds have lignans, a component that contains enzymes and antioxidants that have significant benefits to human health. The flax seed as well as hemp seeds have the capability to maintain cholesterol levels because of their highly soluble nature. Flax seeds also contain many vital minerals and are also known to contain considerable amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, although unfortunately not the perfect balance of omega-3 to omega-6 like in hemp.
As previously mention, you need to break the shell of the flax seed to get the nutritious content out since your digestive system cannot break through the tough outer layer on its own. Luckily, for this reason, these days flax seeds are available in a pre-ground form and people do not necessarily have to grind the seeds themselves, as was the case years ago, to get the maximum benefits from the flax seed. Like hemp seeds, flax seeds are very easy to consume. Flax seed oil can be used as a dressing by replace oil in vinaigrettes for salads. Ground flax seeds can be added to cereals, baked foods, oatmeal and even smoothies.
These seeds contain enormous amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which just like those found in hemp and flax, are highly essential for a healthy heart and maintaining cholesterol levels. In addition to being a great source of soluble fiber, they also contain a decent amount of antioxidants. They can be a great substitute in recipes where a thickening agent is required – if immersed in the water to form a gel that is free from calories. Chia is also highly effective in balancing the human blood sugar levels just like hemp seeds and is hence popular among anyone looking to maintain their health and weight.
Chia is excellent in smoothies and oatmeal as it helps create a nice thick consistency in foods due to its outer layer’s ability to create a gel like substance when hydrated. Chia seeds are also unique in that they contain both soluble as well as insoluble fiber, much like hemp seeds and flax seeds. Another quite good characteristics is that chia seeds can be preserved for days and months at room temperature or above and withstand rancidity due to their lower fat content.
As you can see, all three of these amazing seeds are highly beneficial to human health; however, hemp seeds health benefits and characteristics are incomparable because of their unmatched protein content and perfect balance of omega fatty acids which as in addition to all the same benefits the other seeds also provide. Hemp, flax and chia seeds are however unique and unmatched with any other seeds, nuts or other plant-based foods because of their diverse and all encompassing high nutritional profiles.