Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are loaded with nutrients.

Sunflower, chia, and pumpkin seeds have their benefits—but so do hemp seeds. These seeds from the Cannabis sativa L. plant can be part of meals, snacks, and drinks. They can also be used as a base for oil, milk, and protein powder.

What's more, the seeds happen to be nutrient powerhouses as they contain nutrients like fatty acids, manganese, and minerals. Here's the scoop on hemp seed benefits and ways to incorporate the seeds into meals and snacks.

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Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Human studies that link the consumption of hemp foods to specific health outcomes are lacking. That remains true when it comes to hemp seeds specifically. Researchers have said it's "necessary to deepen and expand the research and the knowledge" of hemp seed benefits and their potential use as a functional food.

Still, it is known that hemp seeds and other hemp-based foods are nutrient-dense and antioxidant-rich. The anti-inflammatory fat, high-quality plant protein, and broad range of minerals and vitamins in hemp foods make them nutritious choices with likely health benefits.

They also offer a simple way to up your intake of plant-based foods. A diet with more plants can lower the risk of conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Nutrition of Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are loaded with nutrients. A 3-tablespoon portion provides the following:

  • Calories: 166 calories
  • Fat: 14.6 grams
  • Sodium: 1.5 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 2.6 grams
  • Fiber: 1.2 grams
  • Protein: 9.48 grams

Hemp seeds are also packed with key vitamins and minerals, including 100% of the daily value (DV) for manganese. Manganese is a nutrient needed to maintain strong bones and produce collagen for healthy skin and joints.

With that portion of hemp seeds, you'll also take in 25% of the DV for zinc, which supports immune function, and 10%-25% of the recommended intake for key energy-supporting B vitamins. Hemp seeds are also rich in a variety of antioxidants and protective bioactive compounds. Hemp seeds are also high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

Risks of Hemp Seeds

Although hemp seeds can be nutritious, an allergic reaction is one possible risk of consuming them. Some foods are more likely to cause allergic reactions than others, and hemp seed allergy is uncommon. Still, allergic reactions can happen after contact with any food, which means you could have a potential allergic reaction to hemp seeds.

Hemp Seeds and THC

In case you're wondering, hemp seeds won't get you stoned. Edible hemp seeds do come from the same species as cannabis—marijuana. However, the seeds contain only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

Tips for Consuming Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds can be consumed in a lot of ways, including in oil, milk, and protein powder forms.

How To Use Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds, which may also be labeled as "hemp hearts," or hulled hemp seeds, have a subtle nutty flavor and crunchy texture. They can be eaten as is or incorporated into a variety of dishes:

  • For breakfast: Blend them into smoothies or sprinkle them onto cereal, oatmeal, overnight oats, açaí bowls, yogurt, fresh fruit, or avocado.
  • For lunch or dinner: Add hemp seeds to homemade energy balls, salads, hummus, cooked veggies, falafel, and slaw.
  • For garnishing: Enjoy them as a garnish on nearly any dish, from soup to stir fries.
  • For baking: Use them in pancakes and baked goods like bread, cookies, and muffins.

How To Use Other Hemp Food Products

Cold-pressed hemp seed oil can work well in chilled dishes, including smoothies, salad dressing, pesto, and cold marinated veggie sides. You can also use hemp milk as you would any other plant milk: in coffee, smoothies, cereal, or overnight oats or to make sauces and blended soups.

Hemp protein—which supplies protein from hemp, concentrated into a ground powder—is great for going into:

  • Smoothies or energy balls
  • Pancakes, oatmeal, and overnight oats
  • Baked goods or chia pudding
  • Savory blended soups

A Quick Review

Hemp seeds contain nutrients such as magnesium and protein. However, research is ongoing to determine their specific benefits for human health. Hemp seeds do have the risk of causing an allergic reaction, though hemp seed allergy is not common. Also, the seeds can be used in just about everything—from snacks to smoothies.

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  2. Burton RA, Andres M, Cole M, Cowley JM, Augustin MA. Industrial hemp seed: from the field to value-added food ingredientsJournal of Cannabis Research. 2022;4(1):45. doi:10.1186/s42238-022-00156-7

  3. American Heart Association. How does plant-forward (plant-based) eating benefit your health?

  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central. Seeds, hemp seed, hulled.

  5. Rondanelli M, Faliva MA, Peroni G, et al. Essentiality of manganese for bone health: an overview and updateNatural Product Communications. 2021;16(5):1934578X2110166. doi:10.1177/1934578X211016649

  6. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Food allergy.

  7. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA responds to three GRAS notices for hemp seed-derived ingredients for use in human food.

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