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Health Benefits of Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds and Hemp Seeds

The next big thing in nutrition might be these tiny seeds.

Health nuts are getting serious about seeds. The blogosphere is going crazy for chia seeds (yes, like the “pets”) and hemp seed sales grew 156 percent between 2008 and 2010. It’s no wonder: seeds deliver as much protein as nuts (and in some cases more) and all three of these seeds deliver heart-healthy alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fat, also found in walnuts.

-Amy Levin-Epstein, “Super Seeds”
September/October 2011

Healthy Chia Seeds

Chia seeds may have celebrity status as the newest superfood fad, but they’ve been around for centuries (they were prized by the Aztecs). The seeds absorb liquid easily, gelling and making a creamy addition to oats and pancakes. That property also makes them easy on sensitive stomachs, says David C. Nieman, M.P.H., Dr.P.H., of Appalachian State University. “Some other seeds, like flax, are harder to digest because they have more lignan, a tough fiber,” says Nieman.

Nutritional boons of chia (per tbsp.): 2 g protein, 4 g fiber, 1.75 g omega-3s

Healthy Flax Seeds

Flax delivers more ALA?than any other plant food. Grind seeds in your (cleaned) coffee grinder or food processor before adding to baked goods or sprinkling over cereal (your body can’t digest the seeds whole). Or mix flaxseed oil into salad dressings or smoothies.

Nutritional boons of flax seeds (per tbsp.): 1 g protein, 2 g fiber, 2 g omega-3s.

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Healthy Hemp Seeds

Hemp plants (aka Cannabis sativa) may be illegal to grow in the U.S. because of their association with the mood-altering cultivars of the plant, but eating hemp seeds is increasingly popular. As versatile as, and similar in taste to, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds can be eaten raw, toasted, sprinkled on yogurt or salads or ground into seed butter.

Nutritional boons of hemp seeds (per tbsp.): 4 g protein, 16% dv phosphorus, 16% dv magnesium, 1 g omega-3s.

Health Benefits of Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds and Hemp Seeds

Flax Seed Vs Hemp Seed

Flax Seed Vs Hemp Seed

You have probably heard of these names making their way into the wellbeing world. Flax seed and Hemp seed are two of the most powerful plant foods now available, but they have been around for quite a while. Flax seeds have been grown since the beginning of civilisation, used as a traditional remedy in Mediterranean culture and hailed for its health properties. And Hemp dates back to the Neolithic Age archeologically.

They are more than today’s newest buzzword or touted ‘superfood’. Even Charles the Great knew that flaxseed would be beneficial to his subjects, as he ordered them to eat this wondrous seed for their health! Both flaxseed and hemp have a whole host of properties and benefits as rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Find out which ones unique benefits would be most suited to you and your own individual health needs:

Flax Seed Benefits

– Ri ch in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant substances called lignans. These promote hormonal balance.

– Li gnans are antioxidants that fight against free radical damage, making flaxseed a great anti-ager and hormone balancer. However, it’s important to note that lignans are only available in the ground flaxseed form, and not in the oil. The process of making the oil removes them.

– A ric h source of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids nourish and promote healthy hair and skin. These include calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron and protein.

– E vidence suggests that flaxseed lowers cholesterol, and a low cholesterol is important for a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Ant iviral and antibacterial lignans help to prevent the onset of colds and flus.

– P olyphenols in flaxseed may help detox candida and yeast in the body by supporting the growth of probiotics in the gut.

– S upports healthy digestion and can provide relief for those suffering with digestive problems, such as Crohn’s disease. Flaxseed is a rich source of fibre that provides friendly bacteria in the colon so that your system can cleanse waste. Flaxseed is also commonly consumed for constipation.

– The Journal of Nutrition published a study stating that flaxseeds may support weight loss and help to combat obesity. The healthy fats and fibre found in flaxseed can possibly stop you from feeling hungry.

Hemp Seed Benefits

– S upports heart health by providing nutrients that are essential for a healthy heart, including fibre, healthy fats, and plant-based protein. Research suggests that hemp can improve cardiovascular health and high blood pressure.

– Pr omotes healthy skin, hair and nails when taken internally or applied topically. Hemp seed oil penetrates the inner layers of the skin for deep nourishment and healthy cell growth.

– Re searchers found that consuming hempseed oil could possibly lower the survival rate of MH7A rheumatoid arthritis synovial cells, concluding that hemp seed can help manage arthritis symptoms. They stated that it can even promote cell death at the right doses. You can find this study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

– He mp seeds high content of insoluble and soluble fibre promotes healthy digestive health by keeping the gastrointestinal system regular and provides relief from constipation.

– Th e fibre in hempseeds can keep you fuller for longer to reduce eating excessive calories. It has been recommended by nutritionists that by adding hempseeds to your breakfast, you can keep yourself fuller for longer, and curb hunger pangs throughout the day. This can help promote weight loss.

– As a rich source of the omega-6 fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), hemp seed has been known to support hormone health and manage symptoms of PMS.

– He mp seeds are nature’s best source of energy with four tablespoons containing 15g essential fats, 15g protein, 2.4g fibre, 4.5g carbohydrates and no cholesterol. If you’re feeling fatigued, try adding hemp seeds to your breakfast instead of grabbing a sugary energy bar, which might have the opposite effect with a sugar crash.

– He mp seeds have the perfect balance of omega-6 and omega-3 ratio, which is 4:1. Why is consuming this particular balance important? Today, most Western diets involve omega-6 fatty acids in excess and not enough omega-3 fatty acids, and this can promote an increased risk of inflammatory and immune diseases, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Are Flax Seed and Hemp Seed the Same?

As both are a complete protein, this means that both contain all 9 of the essential amino acids that the body can’t make on its own. However, hemp seed is a higher plant source of essential fatty acid.

Hemp seed has double the amount of protein as flax seed. Flax seed contains 5.7 grams in a 3 tablespoon serving. But Hemp seed contains 10 grams of protein in a 3 tablespoon serving.

Flax seed contains more fibre. It’s important to note that the fibre of flax is primarily beneficial in using ground flax, not the oil. The oil is more useful for inflammation, and cell membranes. Hemp seed contains 3 grams of fibre in a 3 tablespoon serving, whereas flax seed provides 8.4 grams. This means if getting more fibre is important to you, perhaps to support digestion or to feel fuller for longer, then ground flax seed might be the option to choose.

To sum this all up, both flax and hemp seed are incredible powerhouses of nutrition. You might even want to incorporate both wonder seeds in to your diet, as both offer excellent health benefits and have the power to make you feel vibrant and energised!

Each individual has a different diet, therefore is in need of varying levels of nutrients. For a diet which will be nourished by a higher protein intake containing all of the essential amino acids, Hemp seed would be a wise addition to a diet, especially if you are a vegan or vegetarian. Alternatively, for a diet which would benefit from a higher omega 3 content, Flax seed is a rich source of Alpha Linoleic Acid which is an essential component of cell membranes and precursor for anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.

Have you decided which one is most suitable for you? Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Find out all the benefits of flax seed and hemp seed, and which one will suit your individual health needs.