Substitutes For Hemp Seeds – 4 Tasty Alternative Seeds

Hemp seeds are small, brown seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant. To put an end to common confusion, note that hemp and marijuana belong to the Cannabis plants family. The difference between them is that hemp contains 0.3 percent or less THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) content by dry weight. They do not produce mind-altering effects like marijuana.

It is worth including this seed in your diet for its high nutritional value and several health benefits. It’s often used to bolster the nutrients in almond meals. It contains all the essential amino acids that form a complete protein.

Substitute For Hemp Seeds

You may want to them in salad dressing, or drizzle them over grilled veggies, pasta, or popcorn. Or you love their crunchiness in soups and smoothies.

Unfortunately, they are costly and not always available in local grocery stores. If you cannot immediately procure them and need them, baldy, for your recipe, here are some of the best replacements for hemp seeds that you can confidently use.

1. Flax seeds


Flax, also known as linseed, is a flowering plant, Linum usitatissimum, in the family Linaceae. When you think of nutritional goodness, they are full of it. They are best known for their fibers and Omega 3 amino acids; also they’re a good protein source.

Similarities between hemp and flax seeds are many with similar health benefits. Both of them have similar nutritional value as they both provide all of the nine essential amino acids. Perhaps, the only significant difference is that hemp contains 75% more total protein than flax and chia seeds. Unlike hemp seeds, flax has almost double the amount of fiber.

Definitely, flaxseed is the closest alternative to hemp seeds not only for the nutritional similarity but also for texture and flavor.

Seed from flax can very well fit into any recipe that calls for hemp. Also, it renders your dishes the same crunchiness, flavor, and appearance.

You can use them interchangeably in the measure-for-measure ratio. In an emergency, even one of the alternatives for flax seeds may save your recipe.

2. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are the edible seeds of Salvia hispanica, a flowering plant in the sage family. have exploded in popularity in recent years because many studies in the past decade have overwhelmingly praised their rich nutrients. This seed is said to be a superior source of scarcely found omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Both of them contain a significant amount of fiber, minerals like zinc and magnesium, and a good bit of protein.

Just like hemp seeds, they help in improving heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol and may reduce blood sugar levels.

As for their discordance, the seeds of chia are smaller than the seed of hemp and their textures do not match either. Despite these differences, they are a perfect swap for the healthful seed of hemp from a nutritional point of view. Also, see the best alternatives to chia seeds that may suit your recipe.

As these seeds are smaller in size, thus use them in a little more quantity while using chia instead of hemp.

By the way, using chia seeds for weight loss is the latest trend.

3. Sunflower seeds

The sunflower seed is the fruit of the sunflower (Helianthus annuus plant), which has three distinct varieties such as linoleic, high oleic, and sunflower oil seeds. These seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and a firm but tender texture. These seeds are rich in a good amount of protein.

Sunflower seeds look larger but are similar to seeds of hemp in texture and flavor, and also they have similar nutritional content. Both of them contain a full range of B vitamins including folate.

You can use sunflower seeds in place of hemp seeds in almost all recipes that call for hemp seeds and use them in the same manner. This seed works great in salads, soups, sauces, dips, and vegetable dishes.

To your advantage, seeds of sunflowers are easy to source and comparatively cost less as well.

While replacing, add sunflower seeds to your recipes in the same quantity of hemp required for the same.

4. Pine nuts

We can best describe the flavor of hemp seeds as a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut. The texture of pine nuts is also a great match for hemp seeds.

On the other hand, pine nut does not have the nutritional equivalence of hemp seed. It lacks omega 3 fatty acids but it contains more omega 6 fatty acids than hemp seeds.

Think of using pine nuts as a replacement for hemp seeds when you are left with no other better substitute options.

Pine nuts may go well with all the recipes that call for hemp seeds. This nut works best in desserts like tarts, cookies, and brittles as well as savory dishes.

Hemp Seeds And Leaves

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute hemp seed for flaxseed?

Hemp seed is an excellent alternative to flaxseed and it does not have hard outer shells like the latter. They are not only high in omega-3 fatty acids like the flax seeds but also contain certain essential nutrients. Note that hemp seeds do not work well as a thickening agent. Use hemp seeds as a 1:1 substitute for flax seeds.

Is hemp seed and flaxseed the same thing?

No, they are different. However, both hemp and flax seeds contain hearty doses of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber. Hemp seeds are small, brown seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant while Flax seeds (linseed) come from the flowering plant Linum usitatissimum, in the family Linaceae.

Can you use chia seeds instead of hemp?

Chia is similar to hemp seeds and is rich in several nutrients, especially healthy fats. Chia has a higher amount of omega-3 but hemp seeds have more omega-6. Hemp is richer in protein but chia has more fiber. Overall, both are equally beneficial for health and can be used interchangeably though they differ in taste.

Can I substitute sesame seeds for hemp seeds?

White sesame seeds and the shelled seeds of hemp are similar in appearance and size and provide a similar flavor when toasted. In fact, sesame is a common substitute for both hemp and poppy seeds. All of them have similar flavors and textures and can be used in cooking in similar ways.

Is hemp or chia seeds better?

Hemp seeds have more calories and protein than chia. Comparatively, the seeds of chia are lighter in protein and fat. The protein in hemp contains all essential amino acids which are quite unusual in plant foods. Chia has more dietary fiber and carbohydrates than hemp seeds. Despite the slight variations, both these are equally beneficial to the body for they contain similar nutrients for most parts.

Is Hemp Seed the same as Marijuana?

Hemp seeds and Marijuana are very different in their psychoactive component: tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This seed has only 0.3% or less of it, which means that hemp does not have enough tetrahydrocannabinol to create the “high” which is usually produced by marijuana. Prominent Cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol found in marijuana are hardly traceable in hemp.

What are hemp hearts and what do they do?

Hemp hearts are simply the soft inner part of hemp seeds after unshelling and are a source of protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids. They can be eaten raw, cooked, or ground into a powder.


The best substitutes for hemp seeds are flax, chia, or sunflower seeds for they all have similar nutrients, also pine nuts have the same flavor as hemp but are less nutritious. Nutrition-wise, even pumpkin seeds are also great as a substitute.

For further reading, have a look at the best substitutes for poppy seeds and easy substitutes for caraway seeds that you can use in your cooking.