Hemp is among the popular plant, and its seeds are often incorporated into plant-based diets. Whether you enjoy some dairy-free milk in your morning coffee or you like a sprinkling of seeds on top of your salad, there are a whole lot of ways to include hemp into your diet. But the most versatile of the options have to be hemp hearts.
If you are new to plant-based diets, or even if not, you may have heard other people talk about hemp hearts. But what are they really, and how beneficial are they for the body? If you have the same questions in mind, then it’s time to get clued up and learn more facts about them. In this post, we are giving you more information about hemp hearts to learn how beneficial they are for health and well-being.
What are Hemp Hearts?
Hemp hearts are quite similar to chia and flax seeds as they are packed with nutrients. But what exactly are they, and where do they come from? Hemp hearts are derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant. They are basically the soft inner part of hemp seeds once they are unshelled.
Hemp hearts do not naturally contain CBD, which is the compound that can potentially ease anxiety and treat other health issues. They also do not contain THC, or the chemical responsible for the mind-altering effects of cannabis, based on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In order to separate the crunchy edible shells from the delicate interiors, hemp hearts undergo a dehulling process for their tiny centers to be exposed. Hemp hearts are mild and a bit nutty in flavor. They pair well with just about anything, from plant-based burgers to baked goods. These hemp hearts may also be pressed to make hemp seed oil, and it leaves behind a by-product that can be made into hemp protein powder.
Hemp Hearts Nutrition Facts
While hemp hearts have a slightly nutty taste and creamy texture, that is not their main draw. Like chia seeds and flax seeds, hemp hearts are not recommended for their taste but instead for the added nutrition that they offer. Their nutritional qualities are the primary reason many people are adding them to their diets.
Hemp hearts are high in protein. In fact, based on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), three tablespoons of hemp hearts contain 9.5 grams of protein, which is three grams more than one egg and nearly double that of chia seeds. Protein is essential as it helps support the immune cells, skin, muscles, and hair.
Undeniably, a three-tablespoon serving of hemp hearts is a lot. It is only recommended to eat only half a serving in one sitting. But every little bit of it adds up, so add as many as you want to your post-workout drink to achieve those gains. Below are the nutrition facts for 3 tablespoons or 30 grams of hemp hearts according to the USDA:
- 166 calories
- 9.5 grams of protein
- 3 grams of carbohydrate
- 14.5 grams of fat
- 1 gram of fiber
- < 1 gram of sugar
Difference Between Hemp Hearts and Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds come from the Sativa plant. They have a hard, nut-like exterior and a soft inside. Hemp hearts, on the other hand, are the name commonly used to call the seed’s soft inside. There are times when the terms are used interchangeably. However, hemp seeds are rarely eaten because of their crunchy and hard shell that can get stuck in the teeth.
In order to make products like hemp oil, hemp milk, and hemp protein, hemp seeds are deshelled, and just the hearts are used. But the crunchy shell of the seeds is also a great source of fiber. They can be ground down to a fine powder and can be used in baking or as a supplement in smoothies.
Will Eating Hemp Hearts Make You High?
Though hemp and marijuana are members of the same species, Cannabis sativa, it’s, in fact, 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 many 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 may be small, but they are rich in nutritional benefits. Just a few tablespoons of these seeds can take care of everything from your heart health to increasing your intake of muscle-building macronutrients. It is basically a powerhouse in the seed world. The health benefits of hemp hearts are plenty, offering a whole lot, from nutrients that support bone and heart health to important minerals for those who are on a plant-based diet. Below are the different health benefits that hemp hearts offer:
High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Seafood and fish are the usual go-to sources of omega-3 fatty acids. But hemp hearts also deserve to be on the list. Three tablespoons of hemp hearts can provide you more than double the daily recommended amount of alpha-linolenic acid, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that the body is unable to produce on its own.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that you must get omega-3 through your diet. It helps reduce the levels of triglycerides, which is a type of fat connected to an increased risk of heart disease. It can also curb the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Hemp hearts may also help in lowering blood pressure.
Support Good Bone Health
This is not the most glamorous benefit of hemp hearts, but it is among the biggest. Three tablespoons of hemp hearts can provide an individual with 210 milligrams of magnesium and 495 milligrams of phosphorus, which breaks down to 68% and 70% of the recommended daily allowances for each nutrient.
Magnesium is very important as it helps in the whole bone equation. According to studies, those who consume more magnesium have higher bone mineral density, which is crucial for lowering the incidence of fractures and osteoporosis. Phosphorus, on the other hand, helps in building and maintaining bones and teeth. Together with calcium, these nutrients form the tiny crystals that provide bones their rigidity.
Provide Essential Nutrients for Plant-Based Eaters
Vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, and other or all plant-based eaters will surely love to include hemp hearts in their diets. Iron is a mineral that is used to make proteins in red blood cells that deliver oxygen from the lungs throughout the body and to muscles. Three tablespoons of hemp hearts include 13% of the daily necessary iron consumption.
Without enough iron, less oxygen will be moved throughout the body, which can lead to gastrointestinal upset, tiredness, weakness, lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating. Plant-based eaters, along with pregnant people and young children, are at a greater risk for iron deficiency compared to others. It’s because the iron in food comes in two forms. One is heme iron, which is only found in meats and seafood, and the other is non-heme iron, which is found in plant foods, meats, seafood, and iron-fortified products.
When the body does not absorb non-heme iron and heme iron, plant-based eaters need to consume about twice as much iron to get their fill. Luckily, there are these crunchy hemp hearts that can help herbivores amp up their iron intake easily.
Help the Body Convert Food to Energy
Hemp hearts contain thiamine and manganese, which benefit the heart. Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, helps the body break down carbohydrates, allowing them to be used as energy. In addition to that, it is also important for the growth and development function of the cells in the body. Without this nutrient, an individual may begin to experience reduced appetite, weight loss, memory problems, confusion, heart problems, and muscle weakness. But you can easily snag 35% of the recommended daily allowance of this nutrient with just three tablespoons of hemp hearts.
The same serving of hemp hearts contains about 130% of the recommended daily allowance of manganese, which is a mineral that helps break down the starches and sugar that you eat. It also processes cholesterol, protein, and carbohydrates.
Aids in Digestion
Aside from a perfectly pumping heart, indulging in a handful of hemp hearts daily may also help a person maintain a healthy gut. Hemp hearts are a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber, which both provide the body with valuable nutrients for the digestive bacteria. This help reduces blood sugar spikes, reduce any unwanted toxins in the gut, and regulate cholesterol levels.
Contains All the Twenty 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 20 amino acids, including the nine essential ones that our body can’t make on its own.
In addition to the benefits that we’ve mentioned above, below are the additional benefits that you can get from hemp hearts:
- Reduces inflammation
- Balances hormones
- Improves brain health
- Combats menopause and PMS symptoms
- Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Improves skin conditions
- Promotes weight loss
- Supports stronger bones
- Improves immunity levels
- Provides relief for rheumatoid arthritis
How to Buy and Eat Hemp Hearts
Hemp hearts are commonly sold in packages and can be bought at specialty health food stores. But some of them can be found in most grocery stores, too. You can look for them among the nuts and seeds aisles, the organic or natural food aisle, or sometimes in the baking aisle. If you are unable to find hemp hearts at local grocery stores, you may also try to buy from online stores.
Once you get a package of hemp hearts, you can store them in your pantry until you open them. But when they are opened, you need to keep them in a cool, dry place, such as your refrigerator, so that they may last for about a year.
If you are wondering how to incorporate hemp hearts into your diet, below are some ways that you might want to try:
Mix them in your smoothies: Hemp hearts can be added to smoothies, much like chia seeds, to boost their nutritional content.
Add them to a high-protein snack: If you need to fuel up after a workout, you can mix some hemp hearts and hummus for a high-protein snack. They can also be added to energy balls if you are looking for some on-the-go snacks.
Include hemp hearts in baked goods: Hemp hearts are also a great superfood that you can add to your homemade granola bars and other sweet treats. You can add them to homemade bread, muffins, and cookies for a punch of nutrients.
Top your salad with hemp hearts: If you love the crunch of seeds and nuts in your salad, hemp hearts are a very nutritious garnish that you can use.
Sprinkle your dessert with hemp hearts: If you usually sprinkle your oatmeal or yogurt with chia seeds, why not try hemp hearts, too? They can also be great acai bowl toppings.
Potential Risks of Hemp Hearts
There is actually not much to worry about when it comes to hemp heart-associated health risks. But do not go overboard with your ingestion of hemp hearts. Since they are high in fat, even if these are good-for-you unsaturated fats, keep in mind that a high fat intake can cause GI distress or diarrhea. In order to avoid this, make sure that you stick to the recommended serving size as your maximum.
Hemp hearts are indeed powerful, even if they are just small seeds. They can provide a lot of health benefits, and are safe for all people. Just remember to limit your intake to avoid stomach upset. If you are searching for a new ingredient to add to your plant-based diet, why not try hemp hearts? We hope this post helped you learn more about what hemp hearts are and the nutritional benefits that they offer.
You may also want to read our article about Elderly Nutrition Problems and Solutions to learn about the best tips about nutritious foods for seniors.
 Good Hemp, E. (2021, April 30). What are hemp hearts and what do they do? Good Hemp. Retrieved January 11, 2023, from https://www.goodhemp.com/hemp-hub/what-are-hemp-hearts-and-what-do-they-do/
 Falk, M. (2022, October 17). All the health benefits of Hemp Hearts. Shape. Retrieved January 11, 2023, from https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/health-benefits-hemp-hearts#toc-hemp-hearts-nutrition-facts
 Yazawa, M. (2022, February 3). What the heck are hemp hearts, anyway? Food52. Retrieved January 11, 2023, from https://food52.com/blog/27015-what-are-hemp-hearts