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The Top Ten Reasons to be Eating Hemp Hearts

Why all the hullaboo over hemp hearts? We dive headfirst into dissecting this plant-based protein.

For those of us trying to pack as much power into the foods we choose without sacrificing satisfaction, hemp hearts rank high on the list. Bursting with protein, good fat, all nine essential amino acids, and insane levels of versatility, they’re a superfood worthy of praise.

Hemp hearts are essentially hemp seeds with the tough outer hull removed, and they can be eaten whole, raw, cooked, pressed, turned into powder, and probably a whole variety of things we haven’t even thought of yet. Read on for ten reasons to eat hemp hearts with abandon and enjoy every last bite.

1. They’re packed with nutrients.

High in protein, filled with “good fat”—specifically, linoleic acid (an omega 6) and alpha-Linolenic acid (an omega 3)—and minerals like manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and thiamine, hemp hearts are the “little engine that could” of the seed world. We love chia and flax seeds, for example, but while those seeds’ total calories are comprised of about 16-18 percent protein, a full quarter of hemp hearts’ calories come from it. 

2. They’re good for your heart.

Hemp hearts are heart-healthy, appropriately enough, in a number of ways. Their high levels of an amino acid called arginine make them a perfect food for recent heart attack sufferers and those trying to avoid one, as it reduces both blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. Hemp’s anti-inflammatory properties (keep reading for those) promote proper blood vessel function, and its high protein content makes it a healthy substitute for high-cholesterol meats.

3. They’re good for your digestion, too.

More easily digested than lots of nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes, hemp hearts are easy on your stomach. While whole hemp seeds with the hulls still on may contain more fiber, they also contain more carbohydrates and are tougher to chew due to their crunchy exterior, which is similar to a popcorn kernel. Hulled seeds, aka hearts, have double the protein of flax and chia seeds and one-third (or less) the carbs—a combination that delivers long-lasting energy that’s easily metabolized.

4. They’re a friend to your skin.

Remember those omega-3 and omega-6 acids? They’re known to improve symptoms of eczema in people whose blood levels of essential fatty acids could use a boost. Further, those same acids are thought to aid the body’s ability to produce a proper immune response when needed, which is one of the building blocks of healthy skin.

5. They’re a complete plant-based protein.

If you love quinoa—one of the only other plant-based sources of complete protein—and want to add a similarly perfect plant protein to your diet, hemp hearts are an ideal candidate. Great for vegans and vegetarians (as well as those trying to enjoy a more plant-based diet and cut back on meat consumption), it’s a tasty addition to any thoughtfully-stocked pantry.

6. They’re anti-inflammatory.

Hemp hearts also contain gamma-Lineolic acid, which is a fatty acid known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also found in evening primrose, blackcurrant seed, and borage seed oils, as well as spirulina, oats, and barley.

7. They can reduce PMS symptoms.

Another potential perk of gamma-Lineolic acid is the reduction of breast pain associated with PMS, especially when paired with vitamin E. And guess what: hemp hearts have a considerable amount of that, too. In a range of studies, essential fatty acids like those found in hemp hearts have been shown to reduce PMS symptoms as well.

8. They’re gluten-free.

For people who love the satisfaction grains can provide but for whom gluten is a no-no, hemp hearts are an amazing alternative. Since they come from hemp seeds, they fall under the “nuts and seeds” category of the modern food pyramid, and they won’t adversely affect anyone with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. It’s all systems go!

9. They’re easy to use.

Hemp hearts are as versatile as can be; you can roast them to bring out their nutty flavor and eat them on their own, blend them with water to make hemp milk, or just plain sprinkle them onto your favorite foods like #SaltBae blessing everything he touches. Add a dash of hemp hearts to a smoothie or salad, or use them instead of breadcrumbs on your favorite chicken, fish, or mac and cheese recipe.

10. They won’t… ahem… alter your state.

Yes, hemp hearts come from the hemp plant, which is a form of cannabis sativa, which is the plant used to make marijuana. No, hemp hearts won’t get you stoned in the slightest, no matter how many you eat. That’s because they contain very little to no THC, the psychoactive ingredient that makes pot, well, pot. So, worry not about mood-altering effects or unintended drug test results. You’re in the clear!

With so many health benefits in one single, natural ingredient, hemp hearts are a superstar staple in the kitchen and on the plate. Eaten in moderation on a regular basis, they can promote heart health, skin relief, proper immune responses and balanced nutrition overall. Versatile, crunchy and easily added to all sorts of meals and snacks, hemp hearts can quickly become a part of your daily diet and deliver a complete plant-based protein component that fits perfectly into your health-conscious, plant-based life.