Flaxseed vs Hemp Seed: In-Depth Nutrition & Health Comparison


Flax and hemp seeds (aka hemp hearts) both make a great addition to a variety of meals like salads, oatmeal, and baked goods.

And while they share many nutritional similarities, there are some big differences as well.

We’ll be looking at those differences in this side-by-side comparison of hemp seeds and flax seeds per 100 grams using nutritional data from the USDA’s food database.

Nutritional Value Comparison of Flaxseed and Hemp Seeds

Looking at the macronutrient profiles of these seeds, both are high in fat and calories, but have some differences:

  Flaxseed Hemp seeds
Energy (kcal) 534.0 553.3
Protein (g) 18.3 31.6
Total Lipid (g) 42.1 48.7
Carbohydrate (g) 28.9 8.7
Fiber (g) 27.2 4.0
Sugars (g) 1.6 1.5

Note that:

  • Hemp seeds are significantly higher in protein
  • Flaxseed has much more fiber

Some people need extra protein in their diet, while others need fiber, so the best choice comes down to your specific needs.

Omega 3 and 6 Fat Ratios of Flaxseed and Hemp Seeds

seeds variety

The importance of omega fats and their role in inflammation and general health is one of the most important aspects of diet to focus on.

Having a good omega 6 to 3 fat ratio (generally 4 or below) is a very desirable property for a food to have.

  Flaxseed Hemp Seeds
Omega 3 Fats 22.8 10
Omega 6 Fats 5.9 27.5
Omega 6:3 Ratio 0.26 2.75

Both flax and hemp have great omega fat ratios, although flaxseed is obviously better.

If you’re trying to balance out a high amount of omega 6 fats from foods like nuts, it may make sense to prioritize flax.

If you’re curious about how they stack up to other seeds, see my page with a summary of the omega fat ratios of seeds.

Vitamins and Minerals of Flaxseed and Hemp Seeds

I’ve included a column for the recommended daily amount (RDA) for a general adult on the table below. Your actual number may vary based on your age and gender.

Remember that this data is per 100 grams of each seed. In reality a serving is closer to 30 to 40 grams on average, so don’t be alarmed if the amount exceeds the RDA.

  RDA Flaxseed Hemp seeds
Manganese (mg) 2.3 2.5 7.6
Phosphorus (mg) 700 640.8 1650.0
Magnesium (mg) 400 393.2 700.0
Thiamin (mg) 1.2 1.6 1.3
Zinc (mg) 11 4.3 9.9
Potassium (mg) 2000 810.7 1200.0
Niacin (mg) 16 3.1 9.2
Selenium (µg) 55 25.2 0.0
Vitamin B-6 (mg) 1.3 0.5 0.6
Iron (mg) 18 5.7 7.9
Folate (µg) 400 87.4 110.0
Riboflavin (mg) 1.3 0.2 0.3
Calcium (mg) 1200 257.3 70.0
Choline (mg) 550 78.6 0.0
Vitamin K (µg) 75 4.4 0.0
Vitamin E (mg) 15 0.3 0.8

I’ve highlighted the biggest differences in these micronutrient profiles:

  • Flax has much more selenium, calcium, and choline
  • Hemp seeds have much more manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and niacin

Flaxseed vs Hemp Seeds: Which is Healthier?

Both are very healthy foods, but one may be considered healthier than the other if someone needs more of a particular nutrient in their diet.

Flax seeds have a better omega fat ratio, more fiber, and more of certain minerals like selenium and calcium.

Hemp seeds have more protein, and more minerals like zinc, magnesium, and potassium.

Whether flaxseed or hemp seeds are healthier depends on someone’s specific situation. In most situations, a combination of both in your diet is healthiest.

Research on Flaxseed

Most scientific research shows that consuming 20 to 40 grams of flaxseed a day reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease and hormone-dependent cancers (source).

However, there could be negative side effects from consuming more than that on a regular basis. The lignans (phytoestrogen precursors) found in flaxseed could cause adverse health effects in certain populations like pregnant women and younger men. More evidence is needed on this subject.  

Research on Hemp Seeds

The latest evidence on the health benefits of hemp seeds show that the bioactive peptides that they contain have a strong antioxidant effect (source).

This effect can lead to a reduction in inflammation, showing positive effects for those with joint pain and arthritis.

In addition, the high amount of both insoluble and soluble fiber makes it a good food choice to keep the gastrointestinal system regular.

Should You Eat Flax and Hemp Seeds Together?

Eating flax and hemp seeds together is a great way to improve the taste of a meal while getting extra nutrition. The mixture will give you the strengths of both seeds: protein, fiber, omega 3 fats, and several nutrients.

FAQs about Hemp and Flax Seeds

Can hemp or flax seeds make you sick?

Consuming too much of either hemp or flax can have adverse effects, both in the short and long term. Short term, overconsumption can lead to constipation and other stomach issues if your body can not handle the high fiber load.

Can you be allergic to hemp or flax seeds?

While seed allergies are less common than say nut allergies, it is possible to be allergic to either flax or hemp seeds (source). Common side effects include:

  • Skin reactions: Itching, hives, or rash.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.
  • Respiratory symptoms: Sneezing, runny nose, congestion, wheezing, or difficulty breathing.

If you experience any of these after eating seeds, consult your doctor.

Are flax seeds and hemp seeds good for all diets?

Both flax and hemp seeds are good to include on many diets, especially vegan and keto diets.

They contain a high amount of fats and protein, an essential combination for ketogenic diets. Vegans often lack protein, making them a nice addition as well.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.