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8 Benefits Of Hemp Seeds

No. not that kind of hemp.

Healthy Organic Superfood Oatmeal Breakfast

You totally had a hemp necklace back in middle school. But these days, you’d probably rather eat hemp than wear it.

Yep, hemp is now a bonafide superfood: “Hemp is super-nutritious and although tiny, quite mighty,” says Amy Shapiro, R.D., founder of Real Nutrition.

To reap the benefits, Shapiro suggests adding one daily tablespoon of hempseed—also known as hemp hearts—to your diet in a variety of ways. Mix them into to your smoothie or bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. And at dinner or lunch, sprinkle them on top of your salad, grain bowl, or plate of pasta.

You can also try hemp milk—a non-dairy option made from blending hemp hearts with water. And there’s hemp oil, which Shapiro says may (bonus!) help prevent eczema flareups. Meanwhile, hemp butter—ground-up hemp hearts—makes a healthy peanut butter substitute.

“There are really no negative side effects [to consuming hemp] except if you take blood coagulants, you should increase your hemp intake slowly as it may cause bleeding risks,” says Shapiro.

And yes, hemp does come from the same family of plants as marijuana. But no, it won’t get you high—there’s a distinct difference between psychoactive and non-psychoactive forms of hemp, according to the journal Nutrition and Metabolism. In fact, hemp seeds contains less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—which is super minimal.

So no, the hemp seeds in your cereal won’t make you laugh at Pineapple Express, but they might help you enjoy a healthier life in the following ways.

1. Hemp seeds can help build muscle mass.

Skip the protein powders and add a dose of protein-rich hemp to your smoothie to change things up. Shapiro says that unlike most plant-based protein sources, hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Three tablespoons provides 10 grams of protein—the same amount as a Go Macro protein bar or three ounces of cottage cheese.

2. They can boost energy.

Hemp seeds contain a small amount of complex carbohydrates (about a gram per tablespoon), which releases glucose slowly into the bloodstream, according to The American Heart Association, and prevents that dreaded energy spike and subsequent crash.

3. They may help you lose weight.

Weight loss occurs when you expend more calories than you take in, so hemp seeds won’t singlehandedly help you shed pounds. But they might help “if it replaces fattier and richer types of proteins in the diet,” such as red meat or whole-fat dairy, says Shapiro.

She adds that consuming it in other forms may also help with weight loss. For example, hemp milk has fewer carbohydrates and sugars than regular dairy milk, and hemp protein powder is a great addition to smoothies to help control appetite.

Hemp seeds are packed with all kinds of nutrients from protein to fiber and omega-3s. Here's how you can incorporate these seeds into your diet, plus the health benefits.

Everything You Need to Know About How to Eat Hemp Seeds

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Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods

As far as the nut and seed world goes, hemp seeds are like the straight-A student who’s also captain of the football team. A couple of spoonfuls of hemp seeds packs a serious amount of essential nutrients, they’re easy to eat and cook with, and they have a pleasantly nutty taste, like a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut. And no, they won’t get you remotely high. Here’s everything you need to know about how to buy and eat these little seeds.

Although hemp and marijuana are members of the same species, Cannabis sativa, they’re in effect completely different plants. There are about a dozen varieties of hemp plants that are grown for food, and all of them contain about 0.001 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. This means you can eat as much hemp as you want and you’ll never have to worry about getting high or failing a drug test. Although certain states have begun to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp in the last couple of years, the hemp seeds you can find at your grocery or health food store were likely grown in Canada or China.

Hemp plants grow brown popcorn kernel-sized hard seeds. Inside these hard seeds lie soft, white or light green inner kernels that are packed with essential amino acids, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can’t really derive a lot of nutritional value from the unhulled seeds, so when you see a bag at the store labeled “hemp seeds,” what you’re actually buying is those soft inner kernels, also known as hemp hearts. Hemp hearts can be pressed to make hemp seed oil, leaving behind a byproduct that can be turned into hemp protein powder. You can find all of these hemp products at health food stores, or a well-stocked grocery store like Whole Foods.

Eating shelled hemp seeds, or hemp hearts, is as simple as sprinkling a spoonful or two into smoothies or on top of cereal, salads, or yogurt, says Kelly Saunderson of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods, the world’s largest hemp foods manufacturer. People with gluten sensitivity can use hemp seeds as a substitute for breadcrumbs to coat chicken or fish. Just like you can blend almonds and water to make almond milk, you can do the same with hemp seeds for hemp seed milk, which you can use as an alternative to dairy milk in drinks and recipes. And because of its nutty flavor, hemp seeds make a great substitute for people with nut allergies—you can dry-toast them over low heat to bring out even more of that nuttiness.

Hemp seed oil should be used as a finishing oil, rather than a cooking or frying oil, since the delicate omega fatty acids will break down during the cooking process, stripping the oil of its nutritional benefits. Instead, use it to make salad dressings, or drizzle over pasta, grilled veggies, or popcorn.

Hemp seeds are considered one of the most valuable plant-based proteins out there. Here's what you need to know about how to eat them.