Seeds High in Protein: Which Have The Most? [DATA]


If you’re looking for plant-based protein, seeds are a great way to add a bit more to your diet.

However, they are high in calories and are tough to eat in large amounts, so they usually only play a small role.

We’ll be looking at the amount of protein in a variety of common seeds so you can prioritize some over others.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

If you haven’t considered it yet, find out how much protein you need.

Most people (athletes or not) think they need more than they actually do.

For the most part:

  • Sedentary people need at least 1.2 g/kg (or 0.55g/lb) of protein
  • Experienced weight lifters need about 1.8 g/kg

Consider a person who is 60kg (132 lb); they only need about 72-110 grams of protein per day depending on activity, which really isn’t that much.

Seeds High in Protein

Let’s look at the data, which is per 100 grams of each seed.

I’ve included the amount of protein per 100 calories as well in case you’re trying to hit specific macro targets.

  Energy (kcal) Protein (g) Protein per 100 kcal
Hemp seeds 553.0 31.6 5.7
Pumpkin Seeds 559.0 30.2 5.4
Sunflower Seeds 584.0 20.8 3.6
Flaxseed 534.0 18.3 3.4
Sesame Seeds 573.0 17.7 3.1
Chia seeds 486.7 16.5 3.4

While the calories of seeds are relatively similar, there’s nearly a 2x difference in protein between the highest and lowest seeds.

Which Seeds Are Highest in Protein?

Hemp seeds are the highest in protein of all common seed varieties. They have 31.6 grams of protein per 100 gram serving, and also 5.7 grams of protein per 100 calories.

Pumpkin seeds are not far behind, with 30.2 grams of protein per serving, and 5.4 grams of protein per 100 calories.

There’s quite a large gap between those two seeds and the rest, which all clump together with around 20 grams of protein per serving.

Which Seeds Are Lowest in Protein?

If you look at the amount of protein per 100 gram serving, chia seeds are the lowest with 16.5 grams.

However, sesame seeds (17.7 g), flaxseed (18.3 g), and sunflower seeds (20.8 g) don’t have much more.

In addition, chia seeds are lower in calories than other seeds, so if you look at the amount of protein per 100 calories, chia seeds rank above sesame seeds.

Are Seeds a Good Protein Source Compared to Alternatives?

Seeds are a pretty good plant-based source of protein, but also come with a lot of calories.

Consider a standard diet with 2,000 calories. If someone ate nothing but hemp seeds, they would get 114 grams of protein. That’s not amazing, but it’s certainly pretty good.

The other best sources of plant-based protein include beans and nuts. Vegetables actually have a great amount of protein per calorie, but it’s hard to eat enough vegetables to get a lot of protein.

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.