The Ultimate Guide To Hemp Seeds
In the cannabis growing market, the benefits of hemp are re-emerging. Yes, coming back to life and in a major way!
Hemp has been used since the beginning of time to augment a healthy lifestyle as a medicinal plant. Unfortunately, the stigma of the War on Drugs made hemp production illicit and frowned upon. As such, this lovely plant got pushed to the side into the “stoner community”, quietly awaiting its return to the health and wellness scene. Fortunately, that time has come.
What are hemp seeds?
Hemp is a strain of the cannabis plant agriculturally grown to contain little to no THC. Due to selective farming, hemp looks completely different to the cannabis leaf you might think of displayed across 420 posters. Hemp, in fact, is a really tall plant featuring thinner stalks and leaves to its marijuana counterpart.
While the entire plant can be used by humans, for construction purposes to extracting CBD, hemp seed is obviously the tiny seed that the plant released for germination. Hemp seeds can be ground into flour, eaten as is, processed for oils, and much more.
What is the difference between hemp seeds and hemp hearts?
When seeds are collected shell-on from Cannabis Sativa, that’s considered the hemp seed. They can be eaten just like this, much like flax or any crunchy seed you’d add to a salad.
Hemp hearts, on the other hand, are the “hulled” versions with the shell removed. You know, like when you eat the inside of a sunflower seed and spit out the shell. Hemp hearts are the hemp version of that. They taste nutty (although, they are not nuts), can be eaten raw, cooked, toasted, added into smoothies, or ground into a flour.
Hemp Seeds Benefits – What this superfood can do for your body
Hemp seeds are a great source of protein, fiber, good fats, and overall nutrition for any health-conscious consumer.
Hemp seed is a rarity in the plant-based protein world, in that it’s a complete protein. While most other vegetarian protein sources lack an amino acid or two, hemp seed protein contains all nine essential amino acids. Moreover, it’s easily digestible, similar to taking whey or egg protein without the animal products. Most brands of hemp protein contain 15-20 g per serving, which is a great option for vegans and vegetarians looking to maintain a balanced diet.
Build-up Your Brain
While hemp seeds don’t have THC, the compound that gets you high, they do contain a lot of CBD, another cannabinoid with brain-altering qualities. Instead of inducing a high, however, CBD protects your neurons from dangerous inflammation caused by stress or neurological disorders.
Hemp seeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their brain-boosting benefits. According to research, a diet rich in omega-3’s can fight depression, help you recover from brain trauma, and even stave off Alzheimer’s disease.
Improve Cardiac Health
In that same vein, the omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio found in hemp seeds is perfect for long-term heart health. By fighting inflammation, these good fats can prevent the build-up of cholesterol and onset of metabolic disease.
Hemp seeds also feature a high concentration of arginine. Arginine is an amino acid critical to the production of nitric oxide, a powerful vasodilator. By increasing levels of arginine in the body, your blood vessels relax, encouraging smooth blood flow. More space to move around unclogs the pipes of your bloodstream, keeping your heart from working overtime.
Hemp seeds are a great source of many vital macro and micronutrients to reduce inflammation. In addition to the CBD and flavonoids found in the plant, hemp seeds contain gamma linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid known as a dietary anti-inflammatory. By counteracting oxidative stress within your cells, eating hemp seeds can help fight against chronic inflammation, reducing the risk of arthritis, heart disease, and more.
Hemp seeds for the skin
Research has shown that diets right in the omega-3 fats, fiber, and vitamins present in hemp seed oil can fight acne. According to the American Medical Association, high intake of dietary fiber has been shown to lower the C-Reactive protein levels in the body. Elevated C-Reactive protein is considered a biomarker of inflammation, and has been associated with the onset of psoriasis.
Other Considerations and FAQ
While the primary benefits of hemp seed can be found above, you might still be left with a few questions. After all, most of us are consuming hemp seed with some sort of end goal in mind. Here are the most common questions associated with hemp seed, and a little bit of guidance for you as a consumer.
Is it legal to buy hemp seeds?
Yes, it’s now fully legal to both produce and purchase hemp seeds. There was a bit of a grey area for a while due to failure of early legislation to distinguish between hemp and marijuana. However, in 2018, the passing of the Farm Bill in Congress cleared that all up.
According to Section 10113 of the 2018 Farm Bill “HEMP.—The term ‘hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
The bill goes on to state that, basically, as long as hemp is subject to all other agricultural checks and regulations, it’s legal to grow and sell.
Do hemp seeds help you lose weight?
Hemp seeds can absolutely help you lose weight. Combined with regular exercise and a healthy diet otherwise, the fiber and omega-3 fats found in hemp seeds fill you up and protect against insulin resistance.
As far as the fiber goes, a lot of it comes from the shell of hemps seeds, known as the hull (yes, you can eat the hull)
Much of the fiber in a hemp seed lies in its outer hull, or shell. If possible, purchase hemp seeds with the hulls intact.
Do hemp seeds make you sleepy?
Hemp oil itself is known to induce calm. The high concentration of CBD in extracted hemp oils can calm both anxiety and pain, which in turn might help you fall asleep at night. However, research shows conflicting effects on whether CBD helps sleep itself. It seems to calm people in certain doses, while actually increasing alertness in others.
However, hemp seeds themselves contain trace amounts of CBD. The hemp oils that you see marketed for anti-anxiety and sleep are primarily derived from the stalk of the cannabis plant. While hemp seeds do contain some cannabinoids, it’s unlikely they’ll induce drowsiness.
What is better chia seeds or hemp seeds?
According to the nutrition facts, ¼ cup of chia seeds contains:
11g of Fats
16g Carbs (14g of Fiber)
6 g Protein
34% DV Iron
27% DC Calcium
In contrast, ¼ cup of hulled hemp seed features:
2 g Carbs
10 g Protein
26% DV Iron
3% DV Calcium
As you’ll see, a large majority of the fiber in hemp seed comes from the hull. If that’s your primary concern, stick to either chia seeds or whole hemp seeds. Chia seeds might be better, but only because they’re soaked in water at the start to increase bioavailability. You’re getting basically the same thing fiber-wise from consuming raw forms of both.
For omega-3 fats and proteins, hulled hemp takes the cake. Chia seeds aren’t really a protein source, and hemp seeds contain more grams per serving of good fats. Both are rich in phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and other minerals, while hemp seeds serve up more vitamins.
When asking which is better, chia seeds or hemp seeds, you have to look at the whole picture. For your best bet, get a healthy serving of both each day.
Can you eat too many hemp seeds?
Realistically, you can probably eat too much of anything, regardless of how good it is for you. If hemp seeds are the only thing you consume over a lifetime, you’re probably a) a squirrel or b) missing out on a lot of nutrients from other food.
How much hemp seeds should I eat?
The majority of clinical effects come from quite a large amount of hemp seed. In fact, one study showed that up to 2g of hemp seed oil per day didn’t have any significant effects.
In order to get anywhere close to the amount studied, you’ll likely have to eat over 40g of hemp seed per day. When consuming whole hemp seeds rather than extracted oils, you run in to further issues of nutrient bioavailability. The recommended daily intake differs depending on why you’re using it – say, as a protein source or for omega-3s and weight loss – so always consult with a medical professional for specifics.
Do hemp seeds need to be soaked?
The short answer – no.
While soaking chia seeds is recommended, whole hemp seeds can be eaten as is. They’re actually quite nice, providing a little crunch to a salad, oatmeal, or whatever your fancy. Even though the whole seed is tiny, it packs a mighty punch. The hull itself is a valuable source of fiber to keep your gastrointestinal tract running smoothly.
Soaking hulled hemp seed would also be unnecessary, although you can add water to create some lovely baked goods. Hulled hemp mimics course flower and can be combined in lots of healthy recipes.
If you’re interested in hemp seed recipes, watch the video below. Maybe you’ll find inspiration for your next bake off.
What are the side effects of hemp?
The beauty of the hemp seed is that is can be consumed safely with little to no side effects. Although a healthy diet can be considered medine, hemp seeds on their own are not medicinal.
The main side effect associated with hemp seeds is an allergic reaction. If you suspect you have an allergy to hemp or any other seed, consult with a physician. Signs of an allergic reaction may include:
- Red or rashy skin
- Stomach discomfort
- Anaphylaxis in severe cases
Other issues may include:
1. Gastrointestinal stress from increased oil intake
For some, a sharp increase in dietary fats can upset their stomach. If you know your body responds poorly to added fat (even if it’s the good fat), slowly increase your daily intake. That way, your digestive system has some time to respond and adapt.
2. Interaction with other medications
It’s always wise to consult with a medical professional on any new dietary interventions, especially when you’re on chronic medication. While there aren’t any significant know interactions with medicine at this time, it’s always wise to double check just in case.
As mentioned previously, hemp seeds have very very small amounts of THC. The entire hemp plant is required by law to contain less than 0.3% THC, much less just the tiny seeds. THC is produced in the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant, so there really shouldn’t be any cause for concern. However, there is always a chance hemp seeds can come in contact with the THC-producing parts of the plant.
Experiencing any side effects of THC is extremely rare. If you’re consuming incredibly large amounts of hemp seed and have any concerns, talk to your doctor.
What Are The Best Hemp Seeds To Buy?
Personally, I’d argue the best hemp seeds to buy give you the most benefit for the lowest price. First of all – look for personal preference. Do you need a fiber supplement? Are you a vegan looking for a great protein source? Do you prefer your hemp seed to have a little extra flavor?
Often times, the “best hemp seeds to buy” really comes down to those factors more than anything. In general, you should look for organically grown or natural hemp seeds. Choose hulled for protein and fats, and choose whole, raw seeds for fiber.
Where To Buy Hemp Seeds
Go to Amazon. It’s hands down the best place to shop through options, read others’ reviews, and get low pricing for high-quality products. Prepare to spend around $10-30 per pound on hemp seeds. Below you’ll find a list of the most popular hemp seed products on Amazon right now, ordered by price.
BIO whole hemp seeds – $9.00 per lb
Foods Alive Toasted Hemp Seed (w/ salt) – $11.99 per lb ($8.99 per ¾ lb)
BIO hulled hemp seeds – $16.00 per lb
Raw Power Hemp Protein powder – 15.95 per lb
Profusion Organic Protein Snack – Hulled Hemp Seeds – $15.89 per lb ($11.92 per ¾ lb)
Rejuvenative Foods Hulled Hemp Seed Butter – $23.60 per lb
Lady Jane Toasted Hemp Seed (w/ salt) – $27.42 per lb ($3.00 per 1.75 oz)
Sprouts Organic Shelled Hemp – $31.99 per lb
Good Hemp Seed Hearts – $35.78 per lb
My recommendation – decide how you want to ingest your hemp seeds. Don’t like the idea of an extra crunch? Get the hulled version. Want to butter your toast? Shoot for hemp seed butter. Need a little snack at work? Try the toasted ones. Whatever your preference, Amazon has the answer.
So, there you have it – the joys, benefits, and downsides of hemp seeds. When implemented in to a healthy lifestyle, they can provide a key addition to your nutrition. Hemp seeds bring a plethora of vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fats, protein, and fiber to any well-balanced diet.
Not only that, increasing your intake of hemp seeds can assist with weight loss, skincare, heart health, and more. They’re also just really tasty, in my personal opinion. With little side effects and lots of upsides, it’s time for this superfood to shine.
When you’re ready to pull the trigger, feel free to shop through individual reviews Amazon reviews of each item to make an informed decision. Tons of products are on offer, but it’s really the hemp plant itself that brings the benefits. You can’t really make a bad choice, so head on over to Amazon to make your selection.
Karen Asprey is a CBD writer and enthusiast who has made it her one woman mission to break down the taboo of cannabis, and make it more accessible to those who can benefit from it.