What are Hemp Seeds?
Hemp seeds or hemp hearts are small seeds from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, the same species as marijuana. Before you start freaking out, this is NOT the same as marijuana. Hemp seeds contain trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana that causes individuals to get high (1). However, we're talking less than 0.3%, so they are considered non-psychoactive. Individuals cannot get high by eating them and the likelihood of testing positive on a drug test from a hemp product is very low (5). As such, hemp seeds are perfectly safe and healthy to consume. Hemp seeds are technically a nut and have a mild nutty flavor. This makes them perfect for adding to dishes to maximize the nutritional value. Hemp seeds are popular for their high nutrient content, which is why many people consider it a “superfood.”
Where do Hemp Seeds Come From?
Hemp plants can grow up to 16 feet. Generally speaking, it's an annual plant, meaning it only produces for one growth cycle in one growing season once a year. Hemp plants grow well in most parts of the country, except in extreme desert conditions or high mountain areas. A common myth is that hemp can be grown anywhere, but it requires very specific soil conditions in order to grow best.
Contains organic matter
A pH of 6.0-7.5
Around 30 countries produce hemp. China is the largest producing and exporting country and is responsible for about one-fifth of total global production. In the United States, Colorado accounts for the majority of hemp produced at nearly 40 percent (4).
Hemp seeds are one of the most nutrient-rich foods. Some nutritional benefits include;
Omega-3 fatty acids
The body doesn't make these. It must come from food.
Essential for human growth and development.
Plays an important role in brain function.
Just one 3 Tbsp. serving provides 10 grams of protein!
The building block of muscles, skin, and bones.
Important in recovery after an injury.
Plays a role in maintaining healthy bones and keeps muscles healthy.
An essential mineral that is important for a healthy immune system and wound healing.
One serving (3 Tbsp) provides 13% of your daily value.
Part of hemoglobin, it is the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from lungs to rest of the body.
When iron levels are low you may feel sluggish, experience dizziness, or have a low body temperature.
Helps lower cholesterol
Improves and maintains GI function.
6 Ways to Try Hemp Seeds
Make non-dairy milk: hemp seed milk can be used as an alternative to dairy milk.
Power up your breakfast: sprinkle on top of oatmeal for added nutrition. The high protein and fiber in hemp seeds will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Cook them: dry-toast them over low heat to bring out even more of its nutty flavor.
Salads topping: Sprinkle right over salads for an added boost of nutrition and a little crunch.
Non-dairy snack: Sprinkle over coconut yogurt for a nutritious snack.
By: Diane Ramos, MS, RDN