What are the healthiest seeds for smoothies?

Smoothies are a great way to pack nutrients into an easy, on-the-go meal. Adding seeds to smoothies is an excellent method to boost the nutritional content even more. Seeds provide healthy fats, protein, fiber and a wide array of vitamins and minerals. But with so many options available, which seeds are the healthiest to use in smoothies?

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are nutritionally dense and one of the most popular superfood seeds. A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving contains:

  • Fiber: 11 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are omega-3s)
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 13% of the RDI

Chia seeds are 40% fiber by weight, making them one of the best sources of fiber. They also contain a variety of antioxidants that battle inflammation and help protect your cells.

Adding just 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 grams) of chia seeds to a smoothie is enough to provide a nutritional boost. Given their mild flavor, chia seeds are easy to integrate into just about any combination.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are an excellent source of plant-based protein, providing 9 grams per a 3-tablespoon (30-gram) serving. They also offer up:

  • Fat: 9 grams (including omega-3s and omega-6s in a ratio believed to be optimal for health)
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Iron: 15% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 20% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 45% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 30% of the RDI

Research shows that the protein quality of hemp seeds is excellent. They provide significant amounts of the essential fatty acids linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).

The fiber and omega fatty acids in hemp seeds have been shown to help reduce risk factors for heart disease. Hemp seeds are also high in vitamin E and minerals, including zinc, iron and magnesium.


Flaxseeds have sky-high nutrient levels:

  • Fiber: 8 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 12 grams (including omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid)
  • Vitamin B1: 31% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 70% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 19% of the RDI

Flaxseeds contain the highest concentration of omega-3 fats out of almost any food. They provide an impressive amount of fiber, in addition to being packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamin B1, magnesium and manganese.

Try adding 1 tablespoon (8 grams) of ground flaxseeds to smoothies to increase the fiber and antioxidant content without too much added texture.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds provide an extensive array of nutrients in just a small amount:

  • Fiber: 1.5 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Iron: 15% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 15% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 37% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 33% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 14% of the RDI

Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral involved in over 300 processes in the human body. Many people do not meet the RDI for magnesium, so pumpkin seeds can help fill in this gap.

Adding 2–3 tablespoons (16–24 grams) of pumpkin seeds to a smoothie will provide a nutritious crunch along with a boost of fiber, iron, zinc and magnesium.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds offer monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, protein, fiber and an array of vitamins and minerals. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving contains:

  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 14 grams
  • Vitamin E: 47% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 76% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 28% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 33% of the RDI
  • Selenium: 28% of the RDI

Sunflower seeds are extremely high in vitamin E, an important antioxidant that plays a role in brain health and blood vessel function. They’re also rich in magnesium, phosphorus and selenium.

Sunflower seeds have a light, nutty taste and crunchy texture that makes a nice addition to smoothies. Use 2–3 tablespoons (14–21 grams) per smoothie.

Sesame Seeds

Tiny but mighty, sesame seeds offer an impressive array of vitamins and minerals:

  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 14 grams
  • Copper: 57% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 34% of the RDI
  • Calcium: 14% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 25% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 34% of the RDI
  • Iron: 20% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 12% of the RDI

Sesame seeds offer the greatest amount of calcium per gram of all commonly-consumed seeds. They also rank high in copper, manganese, magnesium and other minerals.

Adding just 1–2 tablespoons (9–18 grams) of sesame seeds to a smoothie provides ample nutrients and a hint of nuttiness.

Which Seeds Are Best for Adding Protein?

Here is the protein content for 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of various seeds:

Seeds Protein (grams)
Hemp seeds 9
Pumpkin seeds 8
Flaxseeds 7
Chia seeds 5
Sesame seeds 5
Sunflower seeds 5

Hemp seeds have the most protein by weight, providing 9 grams per 3-tablespoon (30-gram) serving.

Which Seeds Provide the Most Omega-3s?

Here are the amounts of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in 1 ounce (28 grams) of seeds:

Seeds Omega-3 ALA (grams)
Flaxseeds 6.5
Chia seeds 5
Hemp seeds 3
Pumpkin seeds 0.3
Sunflower seeds 0
Sesame seeds 0

Flaxseeds contain the highest amount of omega-3s per ounce (28 grams), followed by chia seeds.

Which Seeds Provide the Most Fiber?

Here is the fiber content of 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of various seeds:

Seeds Fiber (grams)
Chia seeds 10
Flaxseeds 8
Hemp seeds 6
Sesame seeds 4
Pumpkin seeds 3
Sunflower seeds 3

Chia seeds provide the most fiber per serving, containing 10 grams per 3 tablespoons (30 grams).

Most Nutrient-Dense Option

While all of these seeds offer benefits, chia seeds are arguably the most nutrient-dense option to add to smoothies and provide:

  • Protein
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Fiber
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Antioxidants

Aim for 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 grams) of chia seeds per smoothie to provide a big nutritional boost.

Other Smart Seed Options

Other healthy seeds to consider blending into smoothies include:

  • Ground flaxseeds: Add 1 tablespoon (8 grams) to provide omega-3s and fiber.
  • Pumpkin seeds: Add 2–3 tablespoons (16–24 grams) for minerals like iron, zinc and magnesium.
  • Hemp seeds: Add 1–2 tablespoons (9–18 grams) to increase plant-based protein.
  • Sesame seeds: Choose unhulled for more nutrients. Use 1 tablespoon (9 grams) for extra calcium, iron and zinc.

Mix and match your favorites to add valuable nutrition into your smoothies.

Are There Any Seeds to Avoid?

Most seeds make an excellent addition to smoothies. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Watch your consumption of flaxseeds and sesame seeds if you take blood thinners, as they’re high in vitamin K.
  • Sunflower seed shells can be hard and sharp. Stick to shelled sunflower seeds.
  • Some seeds like poppy, cottonseed and bitter almonds contain toxins and should be avoided.
  • Limit high-fat seeds like sunflower seeds and cashews if watching your weight.

In moderation, seeds are a healthy smoothie addition for most people.

How to Add Seeds to Smoothies

Here are some tips for using seeds in smoothies:

  • Grind them: Use a coffee grinder or food processor to grind chia seeds and flaxseeds to optimize nutrient absorption.
  • Soak them: Soaking chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds or pumpkin seeds in water for 15–30 minutes softens their texture.
  • Blend them: Add most seeds to your blender and process as part of your smoothie.
  • Sprinkle them: Top off your finished smoothie with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or sesame seeds.

Recommended Smoothie Recipes

Here are some tasty seed-filled smoothie recipes to try:

Chocolate Chia Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup (245 grams) full-fat coconut milk
  • 1–2 tablespoons (8–16 grams) cacao powder
  • 1–2 tablespoons (10–20 grams) chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sweeten to taste with honey or another sweetener

Pumpkin Power Smoothie

  • 1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup (122 grams) pumpkin puree
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon (8 grams) almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons (16 grams) pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Ice cubes

Green Tropical Smoothie

  • 1 cup (30 grams) spinach
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) pineapple juice
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) hemp seeds
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/4 cup ice

The Bottom Line

Adding nutritious seeds to smoothies is an easy way to increase the nutrient content. Chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are excellent options.

Aim for 1–3 tablespoons (8–24 grams) of your favorite seeds per smoothie. Soak or grind them first for the best texture.

Mix up your seed selections to take advantage of their wide range of nutrients. Seeds provide healthy fats, fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will give your smoothies a major health boost.

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