Hemp seeds are small, but boy are they mighty! Discover what hemp seeds are, their powerful health and nutrition benefits, as well as delicious Registered Dietitian-approved recipes to help you incorporate these little seeds with big nutrition into your diet.

graphic with an image of hemp seeds plus text that says nutrition benefits of hemp seeds by Hannah Magee, RD

What are Hemp Seeds?

What are hemp seeds?

Hemp seeds are small, brownish-grey seeds that are typically around 3-4mm in diameter. The ones you see for sale in the grocery store are typically de-hulled or shelled hemp seeds (also known as hemp hearts), which are white in colour.

Hemp seeds have a slightly nutty flavour and are often used in cooking, baking, or as a topping for salads, yogurt, or smoothie bowls.

Hemp seeds are a nutritious and versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes to add flavour, texture, and nutritional value. As a Registered Dietitian, I use hemp seeds in a variety of healthy recipes, from smoothies to oatmeal and even sprinkled on top of vegetable side dishes for a nutrition boost.

Where do hemp seeds come from?

Hemp seeds come from the hemp plant, which is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species.

While hemp is often associated with marijuana, it contains very low levels of THC (the psychoactive compound that produces the “high” associated with marijuana), and is primarily grown for industrial and commercial use, including the production of hemp seeds.

Figure depicting applications of the hemp plant
Figure depicting applications of the hemp plant (Source)

Nutrition Benefits of Hemp Seeds:

What are the benefits of hemp seeds?

Hemp seeds are a rich source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. They are also a plant-based source of complete protein, which means they contain all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own.

3 tablespoons (30 grams) of hemp seeds offer a whopping 10g of protein! Additionally, they are a good source of essential fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are important for brain function, heart health, and reducing inflammation in the body.

ingredients on a wooden board including yogurt, a banana, a carrot, an orange, ginger root, hemp seeds, and spices

Hemp Seeds and Fibre:

Hemp seeds are also a source of dietary fibre. However, they are significantly lower in fibre compared to chia seeds and flax seeds. This is because the hemp seeds we eat have had the hull (outer shell) removed, and this contains most of the fibre.

Heart Health Benefits:

A 2010 review published in the Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism found that consuming hemp seeds may improve cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation, decreasing blood pressure, and improving lipid profiles.

The study concludes that consuming hemp seeds may have a positive impact on cardiovascular health, but more research is needed to confirm these effects and determine optimal dosages.

Hemp Seeds Nutrition Facts Table:

Hemp seeds are also a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, hemp seeds are a rich source of essential fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid (LA), which are important for overall health and wellbeing.

*These percentages may vary slightly depending on the specific brand or variety of hemp seeds.

Hemp Seeds Recipes:

Due to their mild nutty flavour and small size, hemp seeds are versatile and can be used to add a nutrition boost to a variety of recipes. If you’re looking for ways to add chia seeds to your diet, there a plenty of recipes you can explore!

Try these recipes with hemp seeds:

Smoothies with Hemp Seeds:

pouring green smoothie into a glass
Extra-Creamy Zucchini Smoothie

Snacks with Hemp Seeds:

energy balls on a white surface
Cookie Dough Protein Bites

Other Recipes:

Other common ways to use hemp seeds is adding them to oatmeal or sprinkling them on toast, salads, and other dishes. Here are some more recipes with hemp seeds:

salad with a base of arugula topped with tomatoes, bocconcini balls, avocado slices, grilled chicken, hemp seeds, and balsamic glaze
Chicken Avocado Caprese Salad

To summarize:

Hemp seeds are little nutrition powerhouses! They’re rich in plant-based protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals. They’re a very versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes to add flavour, texture, and nutrition.

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