Chia vs. Hemp Seeds: What’s the Difference?

by Charlie
Chia seeds

Chia and hemp are highly popular and widely consumed ingredients in the food industry today. These seeds are tiny yet they pack a lot of nutrition. And you don’t need to use much to reap the benefits. Both chia seeds and hemp seeds provide a good amount of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and other minerals.

These energy-giving super seeds are also versatile; you can add them to your baked products, concocted drinks, pasta, and other dishes you serve at home. Most health experts agree to a healthy consumption of up to 3 tablespoons of these seeds including nuts.

What’s the difference between chia and hemp seeds? The main difference between chia and hemp seeds is in their nutritional profile. For instance, chia seeds give you loads of fiber while hemp seeds give you a lot of protein. Chia gives you 34% and hemp gives you 4% fiber per 100 grams. On the other hand, chia gives you 14.5% protein while hemp gives you 31.6% protein per 100 grams.

What are Other Differences Between Chia and Hemp Seeds?

There are more differences between chia and hemp seeds. One difference lies in their flavor. Chia is neutral in taste but hemp seeds are quite nutty in flavor.

Another difference is found in their texture. Chia seeds give your drink, pastry, or dish a slight crunch but hemp seeds are soft and blend nicely into your drinks. We should also mention that adding chia seeds to liquid forms a gelatinous texture thereby thickening your drink.

One primary difference between chia and hemp is in their taxonomy. Chia is an annual herb that comes from the Family Lamiaceae, Species S. hispanica and Genus Salvia. Chia means oily and the plant can grow over 5 feet tall. You can identify it by its purple or white flowers which appear in clusters at the end of the stems.

Chia seeds are small and oval. These are multi-colored in assortments of brown, black, gray, and white. The seeds can absorb a lot of liquid, even up to 12 times their weight. Chia is native to Mexico and Guatemala. It also grows in Australia and the United States.

As for hemp seeds, it’s interesting to know that it comes from the Family Cannabaceae, Species Cannabis sativa L., and Genus Cannabis L. Among other variants of Cannabis plants, hemp seed comes from Cannabis sativa plants which are low THC (a psychoactive compound in cannabis). Hemp is also an annual herb and the plants are stout with slender stalks. Hemp plants produce small, greenish-yellow flowers. Hemp is native to central Asia.

Today, China is the leading producer of hemp, supplying 70% of global production. France takes second place, providing 25% of worldwide production. In the United States, growing hemp was legalized in 46 states by October 2019.

Can You Substitute Chia Seeds for Hemp Seeds?

Yes, you can substitute chia seeds for hemp seeds in recipes. Just remember that you will lose the nutty taste when using chia instead of hemp. So consider adding nut powder if you need to preserve the nutty flavor. Likewise, use hemp instead of chia if you don’t mind infusing a nutty flavor into your recipe.

Chia seeds and powdered hemp seeds both make great toppings to salads. So sprinkle some and add that pleasant crunch to your dish anytime.

When Should You Use Chia Seeds?

While you can mostly use chia and hemp seeds interchangeably, consider using chia seeds if you want thick shakes, smoothies, yogurt, and pudding or custardy desserts. You may also like chia seeds on your morning cereal or bread. Energy bars also use chia seeds.

Because of its gelling effect, some use chia to replace eggs in baking.

Chia pudding is so easy to make. Try it using the easy-to-follow recipe below:

  1. Prepare your choice of milk (full cream, soy milk, almond milk, etc.).
  2. Scoop out 2 to 3 tablespoons of chia seeds
  3. Prepare your choice of sweetener (honey, agave, etc.). Use as much as you prefer.
  4. Prepare your choice of fruits (strawberries, berries, apples, etc.)
  5. Get an airtight jar and mix in all of the above ingredients (except the fruits). Place your pudding jar in the fridge for at least an hour. (Follow the ratio of 3 tbs. chia for every 1 cup of liquid. Add more chia seeds if your pudding doesn’t thicken by the 30-minute mark.)
  6. Top your pudding with fruits and enjoy!

Consume your pudding within 3 to 5 days for the best taste.

When Should You Use Hemp Seeds?

Hemp seeds contain 30% oil and you can buy them bottled for use in cooking or as a salad dressing and dip. Hemp seeds, also called hemp hearts, are great on salads and smoothies. You can also try hemp seed milk in place of dairy milk.

Hemp seed dips are easy to make. Try making it using the recipe below:

Pulse the following in a processor: 1 cup of hemp seeds, ½ cup of water, some olive oil, lemon juice from 1 small lemon, garlic (if desired), salt, and pepper. Then add some herbs last and pulse for a short time. Add more water or oil if you want to thin the dip out. Serve chilled.

How Do You Store Chia and Hemp Seeds?

Store opened chia and hemp seed packs in airtight containers or mason jars. Keep them in your fridge for a longer shelf life. For the best taste, keep your chia drink or pudding in a cooler bag when having them on the go.

Final Thoughts

  • Chia seeds are high in fiber while hemp seeds are high in protein.
  • Hemp seeds have a nutty flavor while chia seeds are neutral in taste.
  • Chia seeds form a gelatinous texture in drinks while hemp seeds blend in smoothly.
  • Chia comes from the Family Lamiaceae, Species S. hispanica, and Genus Salvia.
  • Hemp comes from the Family Cannabaceae, Species Cannabis sativa L., and Genus Cannabis L.
  • Chia is native to Mexico and Guatemala.
  • Hemp is native to Central Asia and is largely produced in China.

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