Are Chia & Hemp Seeds Really All They’re Cracked Up to Be? And, Are They Paleo?
“I generally stay away from all nuts (as I know they are pretty high in omega-6 fatty acids) and I was wondering what your thoughts on chia and hemp seeds were? I love snacking on hemp seeds as they have a much better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 than any nut and even avocados or olives. Also chia seeds have an even better ratio of omega-3’s. Please let me know if its okay to liberally include hemp seeds and chia seeds. I am an athlete and in need to a concentrated amount of calories when working out and they seeds are perfect so it seems.”
This question came in recently from a reader and I know it’s a hot topic, given how much we see ads all over the place suggesting we all need to eat our chia and hemp.
Seems like everyone goes nuts over hemp and chia seeds; along with other foods touted as being ‘super’, it’s easy to see why one might get the idea that eating a lot of any of these foods is a good idea, if even a little is apparently linked with health benefits.
The issue with all seeds, hemp and chia included, is that, just like all nuts, they have high levels of inflammatory Omega 6s and low to no detectable levels of healthy Omega 3s, which are anti inflammatory.
While chia seeds are noted for their high concentration of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and some B vitamins, they, like all seeds and nuts, also contain a high concentration of anti nutrients (phytates). Just like the anti nutrients we find in all grains and legumes, the phytates also prevent us from properly absorbing all the vitamins and minerals in the rest of our healthy Paleo meals, as well as contribute to leaky gut.
Hemp seeds, popular in particular in the vegan diet (I know from following it myself for two years!) as a ‘high protein seed containing all nine of the essential amino acids’ may be an anomaly as some studies point to the idea that the don’t contain phytic acid.
However, using them as a protein source is still not ideal as we simply cannot absorb plant protein as easily as that which comes from animal sources.
Bottom line- all nuts and seeds should be seen as a garnish and used once in a while in moderation, rather than as a go-to fat source.