Friday, September 27, 2013

Seed Showdown: Comparing Flax, Chia and Hemp

It's Food Fun Friday and what's more fun than talking about seeds? I can't think of anything. It started with flaxseeds, and now that hemp and chia seeds are prominent players in the health food market I think it's time to compare and contrast the benefits of these superfoods. It's time for a Seed Showdown.



Here's a Venn diagram...

aaaaaand a table.




and now for some words...

Chia

Remember the "Ch-ch-ch-chia Pet"? Well these seeds are the same thing only you aren’t going to grow them into a cute hedgehog, you’re going to eat them. Chia, Salvia hispanica is a plant, which belongs to the mint family. It was so highly recognized by the Aztecs that it was often used as currency. It contains high levels of antioxidants, calcium, magnesium and iron. Studies show that chia has enormous potential to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes. It can lower blood sugar (glucose) after a meal, reduce inflammation and blood pressure, help maintain hydration and is a natural blood thinner.

http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/eating-chia-seeds/story?id=18296119

My tip: fill a liter bottle with juice, tea, flavored water or lemonade and add 3 tablespoons. Shake every 5 minutes and enjoy throughout the day.

Flax

Flax or Linum usitatissimum is in the Linaceae familyHippocrates wrote about using flax for the relief of abdominal pains, and the French Emperor Charlemagne favored flax seed so much that he passed laws requiring its consumption. Flax contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), dietary fiber, and lignans.

http://positively-healthy.com/a-beginners-guide-to-flaxseed/
My tip: Add 2 tablespoons to a glass of almond milk and drink within 30 minutes (or the milk will start to thicken). Flax is also well suited for baking, add 1 tablespoon to any recipe when you add flour.

Hemp

HempCannabis sativa L. and other non-drug varieties of Cannabis, commonly known as hemp were not previously commonly cultivated, but are becoming more popular. Technically hemp seeds are the nut of the plant. A diet rich with hemp has been shown to lead to increased energy, improved metabolism and immunity, reduced food cravings, and it can help lower blood pressure. Hemp also contain plant sterols that have been shown to reduce cholesterol.

**Interesting plant nerd side note** Two of Boulder's favorite pass times find there origin in the Cannabaceae family: hops and hemp. #TheMoreYouKnow #DoHashtagsWorkHere?

http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2013/05/26/raw-tabouli-salad-with-hemp-seeds/#i.1cj27pxv9fjy

My tip: Add 1 tablespoon to smoothies, 1 tablespoons to oatmeal, 1 tablespoon to everything you eat, ever.

Definitions

Lignans - antioxidant compounds found in plants that seem to provide extra protection against many types of cancer, are anti-inflammatory, and may also help lower cholesterol levels.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - anti-inflammatory. Read more about the importance of balancing omega-3s and omega-6s 

Soluble and Insoluble Fiber - Put simply soluble fibers (those found in chia and flax) absorb water, helping to slow the absorption of sugar and cholesterol from foods, while insoluble fibers (those found in hemp) do not. Read more here.


I hope that clears up some of the confusion if there was any. My conclusion: all of these seeds can be beneficial additions to your diet and can be used in so many ways so, if the budget allows, having them all on hand is a good idea. If you have to choose just one, the price for flax can't be beat, hemp is probably the most well-rounded health option and chia is a very fun alternative to try.


Did I miss anything? What is your favorite way to eat these healthy seeds?