When it comes to the best nuts and seeds, hemp hearts are like the straight-A student. It’s becoming popular due to its incredible nutritional content, and it’s even considered a superfood. Hemp hearts are considered a complete nutritional source of a serious amount of essential nutrients. It contains essential amino acids, healthy fats, vitamins, fiber, and minerals. It’s a valuable source of nutrition your body needs every day.
What is Hemp Hearts?
Hemp plants grow brown, hard seeds the size of a popcorn kernel. Inside these seeds contain soft, white, and light green inner kernels packed with essential amino acids, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can’t derive lots of nutrients from unhulled seeds, so when you see a bag of “hemp seeds” snack at the grocery store, you’re actually buying the soft inner kernels called hemp hearts.
These hemp hearts are pressed to make hemp seed oil, and it leaves behind a by-product that can be made into hemp protein powder. Hemp seeds have a mild and nutty flavor that can be eaten whole for the crunch or shelled to expose the soft hemp heart.
Will Eating Hemp Hearts Make You High?
Though hemp and marijuana are members of the same species, Cannabis sativa, it’s in effect completely different plants. There are a dozen varieties of hemp plants grown for food. Still, most of them only contain 0.001 to 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical compound responsible for the mind-altering effect found in marijuana. This amount is negligible, so it means you can eat as much hemp hearts as you want, and you won’t need to worry about getting high or failing a drug test. In marijuana, the THC concentration is around 7.5% or higher. This is why cannabis is psychoactive, and hemp isn’t. Hemp hearts are not narcotic.
Health Benefits of Hemp Hearts
Hemp hearts are shelled hemp seeds. It retains much of the nutritional value of hemp seeds, except for the fiber content. These are the nutritional benefits you can acquire from hemp hearts:
Hemp seeds and hearts are rich in protein – in fact, it’s one of the most nutritional plant proteins that are easily digestible. Whole hemp seeds come with 60 to 80% protein. One of the proteins contained in hemp seeds includes globulin edestin, while albumin constitutes the rest. It has the highest percent of globulin in any plant at 65%.
Edestin is a globular protein, meaning it’s biologically active. It’s used to produce enzymes, antibodies, hormones, and hemoglobin. Meanwhile, albumin is an abundant blood protein in mammals that is designed to stabilize the circulation of extracellular proteins. When a person has albumin deficiency, it causes edema.
2. Amino acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and it’s one of the three macronutrients we consume each day. It’s vital to gain protein from the right dietary sources. Red meat may contain protein, but it’s often linked to cardiovascular diseases and colon cancer. Instead, it’s better to get essential amino acids from healthier foods, including hemp seeds. Hemp contains all the 20 amino acids, including the nine essential ones that our body can’t make on its own.
3. Fatty acids
Hemp seeds and hearts contain the good fat that our body needs. It contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids lower triglyceride levels in the blood to reduce the risk of heart disease. It decreases joint pain and stiffness in people living with arthritis. It can ward off Alzheimer’s disease and fight ADHD and depression.
Along with omega 3 and 6, they also contain polyunsaturated fatty acids like gamma-linolenic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. These fatty acids help maintain a healthy metabolism rate, keeps the brain and skeletons healthier, and stimulate hair growth. These also help control the triglyceride level in the blood.
Fiber is important for digestive health, decreasing the risk for colon cancer. It has been linked to lower cholesterol levels and improved blood sugar levels.
5. Vitamin E
This is an antioxidant that protects the cells from the negative effects of free radicals.
6. Vitamin C
This is an essential vitamin useful for warding off viruses while it strengthens immune function. It’s also necessary for forming collagens.
7. Vitamin A
Vitamin A supports vision, immune function, and reproduction, as well as formation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and organs.
Also known as vitamin B2, riboflavin works with other B vitamins for red blood cell production.
9. Beta carotene
Beta carotene, the orange-red pigment found in fruits and plants, is a natural precursor to vitamin A.
Also known as vitamin B1, this vitamin can boost the immune system and improve digestive problems.
Niacin or vitamin B3 is used to treat heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
12. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 performs different functions in the body, such as regulating over 100 enzyme reactions, calming the mood, regulating the natural body clock, and fighting morning sickness in pregnant women.
This trace element is needed by the body’s immune system to function properly. It’s also required for growth during childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy.
Potassium in hemp can help nerves and muscles to move nutrients in and out of the cells. It’s also linked to improving bone health and preventing high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Calcium is one of the most abundant mineral found in the human body. It’s known for improving bones and teeth, and for preventing osteoporosis.
Phosphorus is present in every cell in the body. It builds strong bones and teeth, and it helps regulate filtering of waste in the kidneys. It also helps manage the use and storage of energy in the body.
Magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for preventing heart disease and diabetes. It’s also used to treat osteoporosis, as well as migraine headaches.
Trace amounts of selenium can be found in hemp seeds, and it’s known for its antioxidant properties.
Manganese plays a vital role in forming bones and tissues, regulating blood sugar, and keeping metabolism in the right functioning.
If there’s too little iron in the body, it can cause anemia. Iron can help the body to move, store, and use oxygen.
How to Eat Hemp Hearts
Hemp seeds can be eaten as it is, giving you a crunchy and nutritious snack. But if you want to eat it soft, it’s available as hemp hearts with no shells. Hemp hearts can be added to all sorts of food to boost their nutritional value. You can easily sprinkle them on top of your cereal, salads, yogurt, and smoothies. You may eat it as it is if you want a nutty snack. The seeds can also be used as a substitute for breadcrumbs in coating chicken or fish. You may also grind it on your food processor or blender and mix with water to make hemp seed milk, as an alternative to dairy milk. Because it has a nutty flavor, it can be a healthy substitute for people with nut allergies. Dry toast the hemp hearts over low heat to even enhance that nuttiness.
Storage and Buying Tips
Hemp seeds and hearts are rich in omega fatty acids that are prone to spoilage and break down. What you want to look for when buying a bag of hemp seeds is an opaque package – you must not see the actual seeds inside, because a window means the contents of the bag are exposed to light. If these seeds are exposed to light, it’s likelier that the fatty acids will spoil quicker.
Once the package is opened, put the contents in an airtight container. Store it in the fridge or freezer to extend shelf life. After opening, you can expect a bag of hemp seeds to last for a year when stored in the fridge or freezer. If you keep it in your pantry at room temperature, it will last only around 3 to 4 months. If your bag of seeds smell rancid, toss them out.
Best Hemp Hearts and Seeds
If you’re looking for the best hemp hearts and seeds, here are some of the well-reviewed products.
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts is a versatile hemp seed that adds 10 grams protein, 12 grams omega-3 and omega-6, and a rich nutty taste to any meal. It has more protein and fewer carbs than chia or flax seeds, while tasting similar to pine nuts and sunflower seeds. It’s ready to eat out of the bag, and it’s suitable for a non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, paleo and keto diets.
Bob’s Red Mill Hulled Hemp Seed Hearts is an effective supplement for adding fatty acids, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals to your daily diet. It contains 10 grams of protein in every three tablespoons. Plus, it comes with a complete balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. This is a gluten-free yet flavorful addition to your recipes. Its mild, nutty flavor paired with its smooth and creamy texture makes it a delight to add to your smoothies, baked goods, salads, and more.
Just Hemp Foods Hemp Seeds is a supplement that’s formulated to offer you a complete plant-based omega-3 fatty acids and protein. You can buy it plain or toasted and salted. Each serving includes 12 grams of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, 10 grams of complete plant-based proteins, 9 grams of vitamins and minerals. It’s also certified by the Non-GMO Project. You can add this to your recipes or eat them out directly from the bag.
Navitas Organic Hemp Seeds is a product formulated to give you organic, healthy, and natural nutrition on the go. It contains a ratio of 3:1 omega-3 and omega06 fatty acids. It contains 5 grams of protein every 1.5 teaspoon of serving. It also has all the 9 essential amino acids necessary for optimal functioning. These hemp seeds are USDA-organic, and the manufacturer recommends adding it directly to recipes or snacking it from the bag. It’s suitable for non-GMO, vegan, kosher, and gluten-free diets.
Looking for a shelled hemp seed? Nutiva Organic Shelled Hempseed is for you. This is a nutrient-dense supplement that can be used to have the ideal balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids plus proteins. This is a certified USDA organic and non-GMO product. You can substitute it for pine nuts, because the flavor is similar, or enjoy it as a snack. The packaging is BPA-free.
The Swanson Certified Organic Hemp Seeds offer complete nutrition. It’s affordable, certified organic, and tasty. It contains 10 grams of protein in every three tablespoons. It’s a certified non-GMO, kosher, vegan, and organic food.
Mighty Seed Hemp Hulled Seeds has a slightly nutty and delicious taste, close to a sunflower seed. It offers complete nutrition from certified organic and non-GMO hemp seeds. It contains 10 grams of protein and 12 grams of fatty acids per 30-gram serving. It’s recommended for sprinkling on salads, cereals, granola, yogurt, and oatmeal. You can also snack on it straight from the package.