Despite their miniature size, hemp seeds are a nutrient goldmine. Each serving gives you a hefty dose of protein and good fats, plus several minerals and B vitamins. When eaten regularly, the seeds can improve the condition of your joints, arteries, heart, and skin. They also reduce stress and muscle tension.
Hemp seeds have a delightful taste and texture, enhancing both sweet and savory dishes. Still, the word “hemp” makes some people wary of food safety. This article speaks to any concerns you may have. Here’s what you need to know about eating and buying hemp seeds.
1. Hemp foods don’t make you high
Consuming hemp seeds won’t leave you spacey or stoned. Marijuana and hemp do share the same species, Cannabis sativa L. However, they’re two different plants. The psychoactive substance in C. sativa is tetrahydrocannabinol or “THC”. Hemp seeds have trace THC, less than 0.3 percent. Conversely, the THC in marijuana ranges from five to 30 percent.
Moreover, a 2001 study confirmed that eating hemp foods won’t make you fail drug tests, such as those given by employers.
Note that THC exists only in the seed coat or “hull”. So, removing the shell eliminates THC! The nugget inside is known by various names — hemp nut, shelled hemp, hulled hemp, and hemp heart.
Shelled hemp seeds have a higher concentration of protein and healthy fats than whole seeds. Plus, they’re easier to chew and digest. Accordingly, we recommend buying hemp hearts, the focus of this article.
2. Hemp hearts are the king of seeds
Unlike most seeds, hemp nuts are a “complete protein”, having all the amino acids we must get from food. Two tablespoons of hemp hearts contain the following:
- Calories – 90
- Protein – 5 grams
- Fiber – 2 grams
- Fat – 6 grams
- Vitamin A – 15 percent of your daily need
- Iron – 25 percent of your daily need
Additionally, shelled hemp is a fantastic source of zinc, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, B vitamins, and Vitamin E.
3. Hemp nuts have many health benefits
Hemp hearts are rich in arginine. This amino acid expands arteries, lowering blood pressure and lightening the heart’s workload.
Cholesterol is a waxy fat that sticks to artery walls. Too much cholesterol can block arteries, evoking heart attacks and strokes. Remarkably, the plant sterols in hemp seeds hinder cholesterol buildup. Plus, their Vitamin E averts damage to the heart and vascular system.
CAUTION – Do you take blood-thinning medication? If so, we suggest a one-tablespoon serving size, rather than two or three tablespoons. This is because the good fats in hemp seeds prevent blood clots. Therefore, be prudent with eating hemp nuts to avoid a bleeding problem.
Cellular inflammation underlies many chronic conditions. Among them are diabetes, osteoarthritis, vascular disease, and cancer. Inflammation also gives rise to autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Amazingly, hemp nuts relieve cellular irritation through the action of two healthy fats — GLA and ALA. Moreover, they help prevent tissue and joint inflammation.
GLA also calms skin inflammation and speeds cell regeneration. On these two counts, hemp hearts can alleviate skin conditions, such as acne and eczema. Their fatty acids can ease psoriasis by normalizing immune responses.
Frequently, when we’re anxious, our muscles tighten. Additionally, our nervous system releases stress hormones. These chemicals, such as cortisol, equip us to battle threats. However, repetitive surges of cortisol can make us frazzled.
One way to melt tension is by eating foods rich in magnesium. This mineral helps our muscles relax. Meanwhile, B vitamins tamp down cortisol levels. Additionally, high-quality protein ushers mental stability.
Three tablespoons of hemp nuts supply 47 percent of your daily need for magnesium. The seeds also confer several B vitamins. Of the eight types of B vitamins, hemp hearts possess five!
Hemp protein further lowers cortisol, fostering calm. Plus, the fatty acids in hemp nuts fortify your immunity.
A magnesium shortfall can worsen premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Among the grueling symptoms are leg swelling, muscle aches, cravings, anxiety, bloating, depression, and insomnia.
Are you a man reading this? Even so, if you’re close to someone who struggles with PMS, you can share the following finding.
A four-month 2010 study showed that magnesium lessens PMS severity. Pairing this mineral with Vitamin B6 brings even more relief. Hemp hearts bestow both these nutrients.
Some PMS symptoms are triggered by hormone imbalances. Research shows that the beneficial fats in hemp nuts moderate female hormones.
4. Hemp nuts have countless culinary uses
Hemp hearts taste like pine nuts. Their texture resembles cashews — first crunchy, then creamy. Below are ideal ways to enjoy hemp seeds:
- breakfast foods – mixed into yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, and pancake batter
- salads – sprinkled on greens or fruit
- sauces – stirred into pesto and pasta sauce
- baked goods – tucked into cookies, muffins, and breads
- snacks – featured in spreads, hummus, guacamole, and salsa
- hemp milk – make your own and use in tea, coffee, oatmeal, smoothies, baked goods, or as a beverage. You can also swap hemp milk for dairy when making soup, yielding a thicker texture. If you’d like to make hemp milk at home, see the latter part of this article.
Note that subjecting hemp nuts to heat destroys their vitamins and good fats. Therefore, in recipes that involve cooking, when possible, add the seeds once the foods are cool to taste.
However, when not feasible, you’ll still gain the benefits of the protein, Vitamin B3, and all the minerals in hemp hearts, except for potassium.
5. Canada excels in producing hemp nuts
Hemp seeds are cultivated worldwide. However, we advise against buying hemp that comes from Romania, France, or China. Unlike Canada, these countries don’t use the same stringent practices to grow and process hemp.
If you buy Canadian hemp seeds, you can bank on high quality for three reasons:
- The Canadian government requires farmers to use non-GMO seeds.
- Farmers can only grow government-approved hemp varieties.
- Canadian farmers don’t use pesticides on hemp.
Another reliable source of organic hemp seeds is the US, made possible by recent legislation. Up until 2018, the US government outlawed hemp farming, classifying all Cannabis varieties as marijuana. Thankfully, the 2018 Farm Bill lifted the ban on growing, processing, and marketing hemp in America.
6. Quality hemp seeds are easy to find
Many US supermarkets carry hemp seeds for sale. Currently, you can buy them from Walmart, Whole Foods, Safeway, Publix, and Kroger. You’ll also find them at GNC, Target, and Costco, the warehouse club. Or, try your local health food store. Amazon.com offers the widest product availability.
In large grocery stores, you may find hemp hearts in the aisles for dried fruit, nuts, or cereal. If absent, look among the snacks or baking ingredients. A grocer with a natural foods section may keep them there, likely among the cereal or nuts.
7. If you have a food allergy, scrutinize product labels
Hemp seeds are hypoallergenic and gluten-free. However, many retailers use the same equipment to handle both hemp seeds and allergenic foods, such as soy, nuts, and glutinous grains. This practice renders “cross-contamination”, leaving allergenic residues on hemp seeds. Consequently, eating them can launch the symptoms of a food allergy.
So, read product labels carefully. Choose hemp seeds that are free of potential allergens, as specified on packaging. If a label lacks such a statement, eating the food is risky for people with food allergies.
We combed the Web for hemp producers with allergen-free facilities. We found only one — Gerbs. Their hemp is grown in Canada and processed in Rhode Island, USA. It’s also kosher. All Gerbs products are free of common food allergens, including peanuts, soy, tree nuts, wheat, gluten, eggs, milk, mustard, sesame seeds, and fish.
If you just want to avoid gluten, look for hemp labeled “Certified Gluten-Free” or “Tested and Confirmed Gluten-Free”.
8. We’ve done some shopping legwork for you
Based on our Internet research, below are top-shelf brands of hemp hearts, as of this writing. The links take you to trusted retailers. We’ve asterisked Canadian sources. Bob’s Red Mill brand is tested and confirmed gluten-free.
- Gerbs Raw Hemp Seed Kernels*
- Bob’s Red Mill Hulled Hemp Seed
- Just Hemp Foods Hulled Hemp Seeds*
- Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Hearts*
- Nutiva Organic Shelled Hemp Seed*
- Swanson Certified Organic Hemp Seed*
* Produced in Canada
9. Hemp seeds store best in your fridge or freezer
When shopping for hemp hearts, choose those with a long-range “Best By” date. Upon opening a package, transfer the food to an airtight container. Then, store the seeds in your fridge, and use them within three months. Or, to extend their freshness, place the seeds in zipper-lock bags and store them in your freezer. This way, they’ll keep for roughly one year.
Still, before eating hemp hearts, sniff them closely. If they smell like paint or look dark, discard them. These two signs indicate oil spoilage or “rancidity”. Eating rancid oil can irritate your digestive system, inducing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Hemp Seeds – Big Nutrition
Here’s a recap of the key points above.
Hemp hearts can’t get you high. Instead, they foster equanimity through their magnesium, B vitamins, and quality protein. Meanwhile, their fatty acids bolster your immunity.
The arginine in hemp widens arteries, reducing blood pressure. Plant sterols inhibit cholesterol buildup on artery walls, improving blood circulation. Vitamin E helps to shield the heart and blood vessels from injury.
Cellular inflammation prompts a host of medical conditions. Remarkably, the healthy fats in hemp nuts soothe tissue irritation. In particular, they calm flares of eczema, acne, and psoriasis. In women with PMS, research shows that hemp hearts can ease the symptoms.
The best sources of hemp seeds are the US and Canada. These countries follow strict laws for non-GMO and organic hemp production.
Hemp seeds are hypoallergenic and gluten-free. However, cross-contact may occur at facilities that also process allergenic foods. Therefore, if you have a food allergy, scrutinize package labels.
Only consider a product that displays an allergen-free statement. The usual spot is the back of food packages, near the bottom. Here’s where you’ll also find proof of gluten-free certification and laboratory testing.
You’ll find hemp seeds for sale at most of the larger grocery retailers. In the store, check the nuts, cereals, or dried fruit aisles. However, if you prefer online shopping, Amazon offers a wide variety of hemp hearts.
Hemp hearts taste like pine nuts, and their texture resembles cashews. Add them to yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, salads, sauces, baked goods, spreads, and dips. You can also blend them into hemp milk.
There’s so much to love about hemp nuts!
NOTE – This content is informational and does not constitute professional healthcare advice. Therefore, it cannot replace the wisdom of medical professionals. Always adhere to any instructions you receive from qualified clinicians.