Hemp Hearts Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman
Hemp hearts are the soft inner part of hemp seeds after the outer shell has been removed. The tiny cream and green-colored seeds are sometimes referred to as shelled or hulled hemp seeds.
Hemp hearts come from the from Cannabis sativa L. plant. But unlike some other species of the cannabis plant, hemp hearts have nonmedicinal levels (less than 0.3%) of the psychoactive compound THC.
The plant originates from Central Asia and the hemp fibers and seeds have been used and enjoyed by humans for thousands of years. Today, hemp hearts can be found worldwide. They’re loved for their versatility, nutty flavor, and nutritious benefits.
Hemp Heart Nutrition Facts
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 3 tablespoons (30g) of hulled, hemp seed.
- Calories: 166
- Fat: 14.6g
- Sodium: 1.5mg
- Carbohydrates: 2.6g
- Fiber: 1.2g
- Sugars: 0.5g
- Protein: 9.5g
A single serving of hemp hearts is relatively high in calories but low in carbohydrates. A serving of hemp heart (3 tablespoons) has 166 calories but just 2.6 grams of carbohydrates. Nearly half of the carbs (about 1.2 grams) come from fiber. Only a half gram of carbs come from sugar and the rest comes from starch.
Hemp hearts are a low glycemic food with the glycemic load of a single 3-tablespoon serving estimated to be 0.
Hemp hearts are filled with healthy fats. A serving of 3 tablespoons has almost 15 grams of fat, of which 1.4 grams are saturated, 1.6 grams are monounsaturated, and 11.4 grams are polyunsaturated (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids). That’s more of the good fats than you’ll find in a similar serving of chia or flax seeds. Since hemp hearts are plant-based, they are also cholesterol-free.
These little seeds pack a huge plant-based protein punch. A serving of 3 tablespoons has nearly 10 grams of protein, about double what you’ll find in a similar serving of flax seeds or chia seeds (about 5 grams each).
Hemp seeds also contain all nine essential amino acids, and they are well digested, especially for a plant-based protein.
In general, animal sources such as eggs, milk, and whey have a protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAA) of 1.00, which means they’re well digested. Plant protein sources typically fall below this. Soy leads the plant category with a score close to 1.00, followed by beans, pulses, and legumes (score of 0.6 to 0.7), and grains and nuts (0.4 to 0.5). Hemp hearts have a PDCAA score of 0.63 to 0.66.
Vitamins and Minerals
Not only are hemp hearts loaded with healthy fats and proteins, but they’re also packed with nutrients.
Hemp is an excellent source of magnesium, providing about 210mg or about 50% of your daily needs. A serving of seeds also has 13% of the daily iron requirements for adults (2.4mg). Hemp hearts are also a good source of zinc, providing about 3mg per serving or about 20% of your daily needs.
By including hemp seeds in your diet, you may take advantage of certain health benefits. Many research studies investigating hemp benefits have been performed on animals. More research in humans is needed.
Improved Heart Health
Like other seeds (and nuts), hemp seeds are heart-healthy. Studies have shown that they are high in both omega-3 fatty and omega-6 fatty acids. A healthy omega-3 to omega-6 intake is crucial for the prevention or reduction of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease.
Authors of one research review concluded that there is enough evidence to support the hypothesis that hemp seeds have the potential to beneficially influence heart disease, but they added that more research is needed.
Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
You’ll get a healthy dose of magnesium when consuming hemp seeds. Magnesium is needed by the body for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium helps the body break down sugars and might help reduce the risk of insulin resistance—a condition that can lead to diabetes.
Magnesium also helps your body to build stronger bones. The NIH reports that people with higher intakes of magnesium have a higher bone mineral density, which is important in reducing the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. And studies have shown that a proper level of magnesium in the body is important for maintaining healthy bones.
Hemp seeds may provide some relief to those with constipation due to the fiber they provide. Researchers have found that increasing your fiber intake helps to increase stool frequency in patients with constipation.
Preliminary research has also found that hemp seeds may help with constipation. One animal study found that consuming hemp seed soft capsules helped relieve constipation compared to the control group. However, more research needs to be conducted to understand the full benefit in humans.
Improved Cognitive Function
Another recent, preliminary animal study was conducted on the potential benefit hemp seeds might have on issues with memory and neuroinflammation. Researchers found that the hemp seed extract prevented the learning and spatial memory damage from inflammation and improved damage from the induced inflammation in the hippocampus.
More studies need to be conducted to see if this benefit extends to humans.
Allergic reactions to Cannabis sativa have been reported, although many studies investigate the part of the plant used for marijuana use (not hemp seeds). There have been reports of sore throat, nasal congestion, rhinitis, pharyngitis, wheezing, and other problems including anaphylactic responses. There have also been reports of hemp workers involved in processing hemp fibers at a textile mill showing a significantly higher prevalence of chronic respiratory symptoms.
Recent reports of allergy to hemp seed are lacking. But at least one older study was published indicating that the condition is possible.
When consumed as a food, hemp seed is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. Many people wonder if they will get high from consuming hemp seeds. But that is not likely to happen. While marijuana and hemp seeds are related (they come from the same cannabis plant family), they are very different.
Hemp seeds don’t naturally contain significant levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component. In fact, food-grade strains of hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC by weight. But studies have noted that they may not be free of this compound entirely.
A study conducted in Canada found variations in THC levels in hemp seed products, with some evaluated brands containing higher amounts than the legal threshold. Researchers suggested that the higher levels may be due to contamination during processing.
If you are taking certain medications, including estrogen, ACE inhibitors, or antihypertensive drugs, speak to your healthcare providers before consuming hemp seeds.
Hemp seeds are naturally gluten-free but can be subject to cross-contamination if they are processed in a facility that also processes gluten-containing grains. So if you adhere to a gluten-free diet, look for brands that are certified gluten free.
The common varieties of hemp hearts are organic and non-organic, but you’ll often find other derivatives of the hemp seed including, protein powder, soft gel capsules, oil, and hemp meal.
Many people wonder how hemp seeds compare to other common seeds like flax and chia. All of these seeds—chia, flax, and hemp—are great sources of plant protein and fiber. They do vary when it comes to their nutritional offerings. Hemp hearts have 10 grams of protein per serving, while chia and flax have only 5 grams per serving.
Additionally, hemp hearts have more omega fatty acids—with 12 grams per serving—than flax and chia seeds with 9 and 7 grams respectively. Hemp seeds are also unique in that they contain something called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is an anti-inflammatory omega fatty acid; flax and chia seeds do not.
When It’s Best
Hemp seeds are available year-round in many natural food stores. But hemp is often harvested in the fall.
Storage and Food Safety
Hemp seeds can spoil fairly easily. But when stored properly, a package of hemp hearts can last for a year. Packages of shelled hemp seeds should be stored in a cool, dry place or at cooler temperatures. The best way to prevent spoilage is to store hemp seeds in a sealed container in the refrigerator. When stored in a pantry, they will only last 3 to 4 months.
You can also store seeds in freezer-safe bags and store them in the freezer. You’ll know that hemp hearts have gone bad when they have a rancid smell.
How to Prepare
You can use hemp hearts to make many kitchen staples. For example, you can make hemp milk by blending hemp hearts with water, then straining them. Ground seeds can be used to make flour. Or you can use the ground seeds to make vegan protein powder. Some people extract hemp oil from the seeds and used for dressings and sauces.
Hemp hearts are versatile, so they can be used in a range of dishes, from sweet to savory. They help provide texture, a little crunch, and a subtle, nutty flavor. They’re a great protein-packed addition that can be sprinkled atop many dishes or included in a recipe as an ingredient.
Consider these simple ways to use hemp seeds, hemp milk, or hemp oil:
Hemp hearts—also called hulled hemp seeds—are a good source of protein and healthy fat. A 3-tablespoon serving provides 166 calories, 15 grams of healthy fat, and over 9 grams of protein.
7 Incredible Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds and Why You Should Start Using Them Today
Hemp hearts are the seeds of the hemp plant, but even so, they contain only trace amounts of cannabinoids like THC and CBD (cannabidiol). Hemp oil can be extracted from the hemp seeds, but is not the same as CBD oil, which is cannabinoid-rich oil extracted from the flower of the plant.
As for hemp hearts, you can use them to make delicious homemade hemp milk, sprinkle them on your breakfast cereal, add them to smoothies, or eat them as a snack. You can also use hemp seeds in cooking if you want to enrich the nutritional value of your meals.
Hemp hearts contain a high amount of protein which is hard to find in plant-based foods. They also contain all 9 essential amino acids – another rare occurrence in plant food.
Excited to learn all about the incredible health benefits of hemp seeds? Keep reading to find out why they’re good for you and how to implement them in your diet and lifestyle.
1. Rich Source of Essential Nutrients
Hemp hearts are a rich source of essential nutrients such as fatty acids, dietary fiber, protein, antioxidants, magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamin E. Each of these nutrients plays a vital role in your body and cellular health, aiding with digestion, functioning of the brain and nerves, and inflammation.
Hemp seeds contain high amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that can improve heart health, support cognitive development and brain health, fight inflammation, and improve joint and bone health.
2. May Help With Skin Problems
If you’re suffering from dry, dull skin or have problems with eczema, irritation, redness, or acne, hemp seeds and their fatty acids can help you find relief. You can consume hemp seeds internally or use pure hemp seed oil to apply topically on the skin.
Because of its incredible anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamins, hemp seed oil is one of the leading ingredients in many beauty, skin, and hair products.
3. Rich Source of Plant-Based Protein
The protein in hemp hearts is a complete protein, which means it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Few plant foods have complete protein – hemp seeds and soybeans are the exception. This is because only the protein in animal products and dairy is considered a complete protein.
In fact, 3 tablespoons of raw hulled hemp seeds contain a whopping 10 grams of protein. This extraordinary nutritional profile makes hemp seeds a superfood.
4. May Improve Heart Health
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Because hemp seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they can help keep your heart and arteries healthy and strong. Hemp seeds may also help lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
5. May Help With Digestion
Hemp hearts are rich in dietary fiber that helps with digestion and the feeling of fullness. 100 grams of raw hemp seeds contain 4 grams of fiber, making hemp seeds the perfect addition to your breakfast muesli, sandwich, or superfood smoothie. The fiber also helps keep your gut flora healthy and helps boost your immune system.
6. May Reduce Inflammation in the Body
The fatty acids in hemp seeds can help reduce inflammation in the body. Hemp seeds also contain high amounts of GLA (gamma-linoleic fatty acid) that helps with conditions like nerve damage, high blood pressure, arthritis, autoimmune diseases and other inflammatory issues.
7. May Help With Healthy Weight Loss
Hemp hearts are rich in dietary fiber and complete protein, both of which can help regulate and improve digestion and keep you fuller longer. This means you won’t be tempted to munch on snacks or simple carbs if you add hemp hearts to a well-balanced, nutrient-rich meal.
Start Reaping The Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds Today!
Whether you have them with your breakfast smoothie or cereal or add them in meals, hemp hearts are a nutritional powerhouse of amino acids, protein, and dietary fiber.
Hemp seeds won’t make you high, but they will give you enough energy and brainpower to keep you healthy, full, and focused.
Have you tried hemp hearts before? Connect with us on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook and let us know!
Frosina A. Ivanovic is a content marketing specialist and writer. She’s passionate about quality coffee, travel, wellness, and digital marketing. You can connect with Frosina on LinkedIn or her website, Zhillmatic.
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Hemp hearts are the seeds of the hemp plant, but even so, they contain only trace amounts of cannabinoids like THC and CBD (cannabidiol). Hemp oil can be extracted from the hemp seeds, but is not the same as CBD oil, which is cannabinoid-rich oil extracted from the flower of the plant. As for hemp hearts, you can use