The Difference Between Hemp and Flax Seed - Hemp New Zealand

Flax Seed Oil or Hemp Seed Oil - What's The Difference?

You may have heard that Omega 3s are “good” and Omega 6s are “bad,” which explains why flax seed oil (which contains very little Omega 6 but is one of the greatest sources of Omega 3), has become so popular. However, it isn’t quite that simple. The ratio between 6:3 is more important than the actual quantity consumed, and hemp seed oil naturally provides the perfect ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 of 3:1.

Hemp seed oil has been dubbed, “Nature’s most perfectly balanced oil”

Hemp seed oil has been dubbed, “Nature’s most perfectly balanced oil”, since it contains the perfectly balanced 3:1 ratio of both the required essential fatty acids (EFAs) for long term human consumption. Omega 6 -Linoleic Acid (LA) : Omega 3 – Linolenic Acid (LNA). Hemp seed oil is also an excellent source of the LA derivative super-polyunsaturated Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) at 2.5-3% of volume.

Only Hemp seed oil contains 75-80% polyunsaturated fatty acids – highest in the plant kingdom and unique among seed oils. Though flax seed oil is high in Omega 3, the perfect balance of hemp’s EFAs allows your body to best digest the excellent properties in hemp oil.

Flax seed oil is pressed from the seeds of Linum usitatissimum, the source of linen fibre, and the oil is often referred to as linseed oil. The Latin name of the flax plant literally translates as “very useful”. Flax was originally used in the manufacture of textiles, and people soon found a use for its seeds in the production of oil and as a base for oil paints.

Let's discover the differences

Hemp Seed Oil

  • Is considered one of the world’s healthiest oils.
  • Is naturally rich in omega-3 (including omega-3 SDA, which is a more potent form of the fatty acid).
  • Has one of the lowest amounts of saturated fat and the highest contents of polyunsaturated fat amongst all the culinary oils.
  • Contains omega-6 GLA which my help to reduce inflammation and nerve pain, balance hormones, and improve rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Contains an ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 (a balance of omegas is important to maintain optimum health)
  • Has a low-medium smoke point, which means you can use it for low-heat baking, sauteing and for sauces.

Flaxseed Oil

  • Contains a higher level of omega-3 than hemp oil but does not have an ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.
  • The omega-3 in flax seed oil is exclusively ALA (the short-chain fatty acids) and does not contain any SDA, the more potent form of omega-3 found in hemp seed oil.
  • Should not be heated or used in cooking at all.

Nutritional Comparison​ Between Hemp Seed Oil & Flax Seed Oil

Nutritional value per 100g Hemp Seed Oil Flaxseed Oil
Saturated fat 9.2g 9.4g
Polyunsaturated fat 78.0g 66.0g
Omega-3 18.7g 53.3g
Omega-3 SDA 1.6g 0g
Omega-6 56.6g 12.7g
Omega-6 GLA 3.3g 0g
Omega-6 / Omega-3 ratio
(ideal between 2:1 – 4:1)
3:1 0.2:1

Both Flax Seed and Hemp Seed are complete proteins, meaning they contain all 9 of the essential amino acids that the body can make on its own. However, hemp seed is a higher plant source of essential fatty acid.

Hemp seed has double the amount of protein as flaxseed. Flaxseed contains 5.7 grams in a 3 tablespoon serving while hemp seed contains 10 grams of protein in a 3 tablespoon serving.

Ground flax seed contains more fibre than dehulled hemp seed. Hulled hemp seed contains 3 grams of fibre in a 3 tablespoon serving, whereas flax seed provides 8.4 grams. So if getting more fibre is important to you, perhaps to support digestion or to feel fuller for longer, then ground flax seed may be your best option.

To sum up, both flax and hemp seed are incredible powerhouses of nutrition. Flax seeds and hemp hearts provide about the same number of calories. They contain the same amount of fat, but flax seeds contain more fibre, while hemp hearts contain more protein.

 You might even want to incorporate both into your diet, as they each have something to offer nutritionally. Use them topped on cereal, yogurt, and salads, or add into baked goods and smoothies!

Flax vs Hemp Seed - Comparison

More seed comparisons

Educational Posts

Misconceptions about Hemp & Flax Oils

Hemp oil and flax oil both contain omega-3 & omega-6 essential fatty acids, though in significantly different proportions. They also differ in their molecular stability, or shelf life, and in the ways to best consume them.

Fatty Acid Content

Hemp oil contains more essential fatty acids than flax oil as well as two polyunsaturated fats called gamma-linolenic acid and stearidonic acid that flax oil does not contain.

In addition, hemp seeds are a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a polyunsaturated fatty acid that may also have anti-inflammatory effects.

Read more about the health benefits here

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