Last year, you’d be hard-pressed not to find chia seeds in most of the “health foods” on the market. They’re in your oats, acai bowls, smoothies, drinks… but now there’s an even healthier alternative that packs more protein with every grain – hemp hearts.
Hemp products and by-products are everywhere nowadays, and for good reason. This super-sustainable, versatile plant can be used as a substitute for cotton, plastics, and even crude oil, but the most delicious part of this plant also has huge benefits for your health.
What are Hemp Hearts?
Hemp hearts are simply shelled hemp seeds. No need to worry, hemp seeds contain trace amounts of THC so small that they don’t have any psychoactive effects. They’re 100% legal and safe for kids and adults to consume. Hemp hearts are a byproduct of industrial hemp production, making them extremely sustainable and easy to get your hands on.
Hemp hearts look like a cross between quinoa, chia seeds, and lentils. These little seeds taste nutty and sweet, almost like pine nuts but with a much smaller size and price tag. Hemp hearts can do salty and sweet and can be added to your favorite recipes cooked or toasted!
Health Profile of Hemp Hearts
These little seeds can pack a punch! Compared to chia seeds, hemp hearts deliver more proteins, essential fats, vitamins, and enzymes in every scoop. Hemp hearts can be used as an eco-friendly protein substitute or as a health-boosting addition wherever you’d normally add chia seeds.
- Packs in protein: Hemp hearts are a great source of eco-friendly protein. For every 2 tablespoons, hemp seeds contain about 7 grams of protein. 3 tablespoons can give you almost as much protein as two eggs! They’re also rich with 20+ types of essential amino acids that are important for digestion. All of that, with almost no sugars, starches, or saturated fats!
- High in omega fatty acids: These seeds are a great source of two types of omega fatty acids. While they may not contain as much omega-3 as chia seeds, .2 grams vs 1.9 grams per tablespoon, they do have a balanced ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. The omega-6 in hemp is classified as a Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) which is very hard to come by but plays a huge role in managing inflammatory conditions.
- Rich in minerals: Hemp hearts are a great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc which can be hard to fulfill through your everyday diet.
Why You Should Heart Hemp Hearts
- Reduce inflammation: Inflammation is the cause of many health conditions. The GLA found in hemp seeds has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to alleviate arthritis, eczema, IBS, muscle pain, and fibromyalgia to name a few.
- Improve heart health: Hemp hearts are good for your heart! They contain the amino acid arginine, which can lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Additionally, the GLA found in hemp hearts helps to reduce inflammation which leads to heart disease. Hemp seed oil may also help to reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of blood clot formation, and speed up recovery after a heart attack.
- Combat menopausal and PMS symptoms: Hemp hearts are an ally for women’s health! Hemp hearts have been found to decrease the symptoms associated with PMS including breast tenderness, depression, irritability and fluid retention – you have GLA to thank for that! GLA can also be used to regulate the hormone imbalances that are brought on during menopause.
- Promote fertility: Many seeds, and especially hemp seeds, can support healthy fertility. The omega-3s found in these seeds help to regulate and boost hormones, increase cervical mucus production, promote ovulation, and increase the blood flow to the reproductive organs. Since they have anti-inflammatory properties, they can also aid with common fertility issues such as endometriosis, PCOS, and uterine fibroids.
- Build muscle: Hemp seeds are a great source of plant-based protein that can help boost the results you see at the gym! They can also reduce muscle soreness after hitting the gym.
- Help with digestion: The hull or shell of hemp seeds is very high in soluble and insoluble fiber which aid in digestion. If you want to take advantage of these digestive benefits, look for hemp hearts that still have their shells, often referred to as raw, or not hulled.
Where You Can Add a Little Extra Hemp Heart Love
Breakfast: Whether you prefer to start your days with savory or sweet foods, hemp seeds can help transform your breakfast meals. Add them to smoothies, make your own hemp and super-seed bars, or sprinkle over avocado toast for extra crunch. You can even replace dairy milk for your cereal by making your own plant-based milk using hemp seeds!
Snacks: Hemp hummus? Sign me up! The best hummus and pestos usually call for pine nuts which can get pretty expensive. Instead, swap them for hemp seeds for a nutty, sweet, and smooth alternative that’s better on your heart and your wallet. You can also toast your hemp seeds and sprinkle them over salads!