What are the benefits of hemp seeds?
Ministry of Hemp’s complete guide to eating hemp seeds
Ministry of Hemp
Feb 25, 2020 · 6 min read
Hemp seeds are produced from the hemp plant, also called Cannabis Sativa. This simple seed offers incredible nutritional benefits and it’s tasty too!
This plant is still best known for its psychoactive uses (in a form often called “marijuana”) or for CBD, the popular nutritional supplement. However, hemp is an amazing multi-purpose plant. Hemp seeds, in particular, are very healthy as a food.
After struggling under decades of sti g ma, today consumers prize hemp for its health benefits. No other single plant source can compare with the nutritional value of hemp seeds. In its small seed, hemp packs a good source of amino acids, protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids. Hemp is also considered to be more allergy-free than some plant proteins.
Today, you can commonly find hemp hearts (hulled hemp seeds) in almost any grocery store, along with numerous hemp protein powders and similar products. However, at the end of this article, we’ve linked to some of our favorite brands available on Amazon, for ease of ordering. While we recommend that you never buy CBD oil on Amazon, it’s safe to order hemp food products on Amazon just as you would any other ingredient.
Benefits of hemp seed
These seeds have several benefits that make them a superior source of daily nutrients:
Hemp seeds are nutritionally superior to flax & chia
Hemp contains both GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). GLA is a fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. CLA is a building block of cell membranes. It also offers more protein than Flax & Chia.
Balanced ratio of essential fatty acids
Hemp offers a naturally balanced 1:3 ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). EFAs are responsible for strengthening your immune system.
Hemp seeds offer all 10 essential amino acids
There are 8 amino acids that the human body cannot make and 2 more the body cannot make in sufficient quantity. Hemp offers all these essential amino acids in its seed.
Great source of dietary fiber
Hemp seeds offer 17g of fiber per serving, while a serving of hemp protein also contains 8–11g of fiber. Hemp is a great way to add fiber to your daily diet.
Source of key vitamins and minerals
Hemp seeds are a great source of vitamin E and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
25% of calories are high quality protein
65% of the protein in hemp seed is edestin, a protein that helps your immune system to properly function. 35% of the protein is albumin, which helps the protein get easily assimilated into the body. Hemp offers a great alternative protein if you are allergic to dairy.
Fights bad cholesterol and skin clots
Studies have suggested that hemp seed and hemp seed oil can help break down cholesterol as well as fight blood clots, which are typically caused by high cholesterol levels.
Helps improve skin conditions
Clinical trials have shown that the Omega-3 and Omega-6 found in hemp oil help dry skin and are beneficial for the treatment of conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
While eating healthy can be great for your skin, hemp oil and hemp-based products may be even more beneficial when used directly in skin care.
Ways to eat hemp seeds
Hemp seeds can be eaten in so many different ways. It just really depends on your creativity.
Here are just a few common ways to eat them:
- Eat raw as a snack.
- Mix into your smoothie.
- Sprinkle on top of cereal, salads, yogurt, or even oatmeal.
- Substitute hemp hearts for breadcrumbs to coat chicken or fish.
- Blend with water to make hemp seed milk.
- Ground hemp seed to use it as a condiment.
- Toasted hemp seeds can be eaten like popcorn.
Recipes for hemp hearts
Today, you can find hemp heart recipes on many food websites. We’ve collected a few of our favorite hemp recipes that we’ve published over the last few years below:
Things to consider when buying hemp seeds
With hemp food products so widely available, it’s pretty easy to buy hemp hearts or hemp protein. Still, here’s a few tips:
What kind of hemp seed?
Hulled hemp, often called hemp hearts, is the entire seed with the crunchy outer shell removed.
Hulling the seeds, rather than eating as a whole, makes it easier to eat. Removing the shell also makes the hemp hearts more nutritious, as it increases the overall percentage of protein and essential fatty acids. You can eat hemp hearts in numerous ways, such as mixing in shakes, cereal, or sprinkling some on your salad.
Toasted hemp seeds are whole seeds that are roasted in high temperatures for a varied length of time. This results in a popcorn like snack. Toasted hemp is a popular snack in many countries around the world, especially in the Middle East.
In addition to hulled & toasted hemp seeds, producers add hemp as an ingredient to their products, as hemp is such a healthy supplement. Be on the lookout to see if you run into any energy bars or spreads that have hemp in them! Most grocery stores also stock hemp protein powders that are perfect for adding to smoothies and shakes.
Where is it grown?
Hemp is grown in most industrialized countries, including the United States.
Most hemp grown in the U.S. is grown for CBD, a popular nutritional supplement with many benefits. Slowly, U.S. farmers are producing more acres of hemp in the U.S. for other uses, including food. Many other countries typically grow hemp for industrial use (construction, textiles, etc.) and for food.
Outside of the United States, Canada has the best quality hemp grown for food. This is not only because of the taste of the hemp strain that Canadian farmers use, but also because of the strict regulations that the Canadian government enforces.
Canadian farmers can only plant hemp seed varieties listed under Health Canada’s List of Approved Cultivars. Canadian farmers also don’t plant GMO seeds or use pesticides when farming hemp.
In general, you should avoid hemp grown in China or most other countries when selecting hemp foods. China doesn’t regulate hemp producers as strictly as Canadian farmers. An easy way to tell the difference between Canadian hemp and others is by taste.
Make sure to check labels to ensure the hemp is from Canada or the U.S.!
Hemp seeds have a pleasant nutty taste. Many people compare them to unflavored sunflower seeds, but with a much softer texture. We think you’ll find them delicious once you try them.
Most hemp hearts are unflavored, though there are some flavored hemp hearts available. When it comes to toasted hemp seeds, you’ll find a variety of flavors out there, much like peanuts or corn nuts.
It’s relatively easy to find hemp at your local grocery store. However, there’s also a lot of boutique U.S. brands that offer great hemp seed products through honest ingredients and fair prices.
Check out our full unbiased reviews below to find which brand offers the best quality hemp seeds and where you can buy them.
Hemp seeds are produced from the hemp plant, also called Cannabis Sativa. This simple seed offers incredible nutritional benefits and it’s tasty too! This plant is still best known for its…
The Health Benefits of Hemp Hearts
Just like chia and flax seeds, hemp hearts pack a punch of nutrition in just a few tablespoons. Here’s the low-down.
Over the last decade, chia and flax seeds have gone from hipster products hidden in the back of a Whole Foods to beloved pantry staples, all thanks to their portable size, versatility in flavor combos, and nutritional values. And it’s about time hemp hearts got the same kudos.
Derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, hemp hearts are actually just hulled or unshelled hemp seeds, and no, they don’t naturally contain CBD — the compound that can potentially ease anxiety and treat other health concerns — or THC — the chemical responsible for cannabis’ mind-altering effects, per the Food and Drug Administration. While hemp hearts do have an ever-so-slightly nutty taste and creamy texture, that’s not their main draw. “Just like chia seeds or flax seeds, you don’t recommend hemp hearts for the taste — you recommend them for the added nutrition,” says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N, a dietitian and Shape Brain Trust member. That’s not to say hemp hearts taste bad (some people may enjoy that added bit of nuttiness!), it’s just that their nutritional qualities are probably the primary reason you’ll want to add them to your diet.
In fact, the health benefits of hemp hearts run aplenty. They offer everything from nutrients that support bone and heart health and essential minerals for plant-based eaters, to muscle-building macronutrients. And luckily, there’s an abundance of creative ways to add them to your diet too. “Any way you’d use chia seeds or flax seeds, you can use hemp hearts,” says Gans. “Add them to your smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, or salads.” You can even incorporate them into homemade cookies, muffins, bread, granola, and energy balls for a punch of nutrients.
If this quick rundown didn’t quite convince you to swap your chia seeds for hemp hearts, read up on all the benefits of these little seeds below.
They’re loaded with protein.
Hemp hearts may be small, but they sure are mighty. Three tablespoons of the hearts contain a whopping 9.5 grams of protein — three grams more than a single egg and nearly double that of chia seeds, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. In case you forgot everything from high school health class, protein helps support your immune cells, hair, skin, and importantly, muscles. Following a round of exercise, your body uses protein to repair damaged muscle fibers, which helps them become even stronger. Unsurprisingly, if you don’t get enough of it through your diet, you could suffer from muscle loss, weak hair and nails, or immune issues.
For the average woman following a 2,000 calorie diet, the USDA recommends scoring 46 grams of protein a day. Do a little math wizardry, and that means one serving of hemp hearts offers nearly 20 percent of your daily need. Admittedly, a three-tablespoon serving is a lot, so you might eat only half a serving — and thus get half the protein — in one sitting. But every little bit adds up, so add as many as you’d like to your post-workout smoothie, and you’ll be on your way to achieving those #gains.
They boast omega-3 fatty acids.
While fresh fish and seafood are typically the go-to sources for omega-3 fatty acids, hemp hearts deserve to be on the favorites list, as well. In just three tablespoons of hemp hearts, you’ll get more than double the daily recommended amount of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 that your body can’t produce on its own — meaning they need to be obtained from your diet, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce levels of triglycerides (a type of fat linked with increased risk of heart disease), curb the buildup of plaque in your arteries (which can ultimately lead to a heart attack or stroke), and slightly lower blood pressure, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Related: Vegetarian Foods That Offer a Healthy Dose of Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
They support good bone health.
Though it’s not the most glamorous benefit of hemp hearts, it is one of the biggest. Just three tablespoons of hemp hearts provide 210 milligrams of magnesium and 495 milligrams of phosphorus, which breaks down to a whopping 68 percent and 70 percent of your recommended daily allowances, respectively, for each of those nutrients.
ICYDK, “magnesium can help in the whole bone equation,” says Gans. “We always talk about calcium and vitamin D, but magnesium also plays a role in keeping our bones strong.” In fact, research has found that people who consume more magnesium have higher bone mineral density, which is essential in reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis (a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle.)
Likewise, the primary function of phosphorus in the body is to help build and maintain your bones and teeth, according to the NLM. Along with calcium, this essential nutrient forms the tiny crystals that give bones their rigidity, and when dietary intakes of phosphorous are lacking for a prolonged period, bones can actually weaken, per the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
They supplement nutrients for plant-based eaters.
Listen up, vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, and any other all or mostly all plant-based eaters. Three tablespoons of hemp hearts contain 13 percent of the recommended daily allowance for iron, a mineral that’s used to make proteins in red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs throughout the body and to muscles. Without enough of it, less oxygen is moved throughout the body, which can cause gastrointestinal upset, weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating, per the NIH. Not exactly a pleasant situation to be in.
Along with pregnant women and young children, plant-based eaters are at a greater risk than most humans for iron deficiency, says Gans. That’s because the iron in food comes in two forms, heme iron (found only in meats and seafood) and non-heme iron (found in plant foods, iron-fortified products, meats, and seafood). Since the body doesn’t absorb non-heme iron as well as heme iron, plant-based eaters need to consume nearly twice as much iron to get their fill, per the NIH. And luckily, these crunchy hemp hearts can help herbivores easily amp up their iron intake, says Gans.
They help your body convert food to energy.
You can thank the tiny seed’s thiamine and manganese content for this hemp heart benefit. Also known as vitamin B1, thiamine helps your body break down carbohydrates so they can be used as energy, explains Gans. It’s also essential for the growth, development, and function of the cells in your body, according to the NIH. Without enough of the nutrient, you can start to experience weight loss, reduced appetite, confusion, memory problems, muscle weakness, and heart problems, reports the NIH. But not to worry, you can snag 35 percent of your recommended daily allowance in just three tablespoons of hemp hearts. (Related: Why B Vitamins Are the Secret to More Energy)
What’s more, a three-tablespoon serving of hemp hearts boasts nearly 130 percent (!)) of the recommended daily allowance of manganese, a mineral that helps break down the starches and sugar you eat and process cholesterol, carbohydrates, and protein, per the NLM. The nutrient also helps support strong bones, blood clotting, and a healthy immune system. It’s the bundle of nutrients you never knew you needed.
Wondering exactly what hemp hearts are? Here, the answer to what are hemp hearts, plus all the hemp hearts benefits and hemp heart nutrition facts.