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What Are Hemp Hearts? And How to Use Them

This content is sponsored by Manitoba Harvest.

From making groovy jewelry to functioning as a biofuel and serving as a building material, the hemp plant has hundreds of uses. But did you know its seeds can be consumed as a tasty food? Known as hemp hearts, these seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch.

What Are Hemp Hearts?

Hemp hearts are the shelled seeds of the hemp plant, which is a strain of cannabis sativa. Hemp is in the same plant family as marijuana, but they are not the same thing, says Krista King, a Chicago-based dietitian and founder of Composed Nutrition. Though hemp foods do contain trace amounts of THC (we’re talking less than 0.001 percent), they will not cause a psychoactive effect.

Hemp originated in central Asia and has been used for thousands of years as a textile and food. Its shelled seeds, or hearts, are very soft and have a mild, nutty flavor. They are a great source of plant-based protein (containing 10 grams of protein in 3 tablespoons), essential fatty acids (including omega-3 and omega-6), vitamin E and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc, King says.

Hemp seeds contain over 30 percent oil and about 25 percent protein (1). They also contain a considerable amount of dietary fiber.

While it’s possible to eat hemp seeds whole, people typically prefer to eat them without the crunchy outer shell. “Removing the shell increases the amount of available protein and essential fatty acids,” King says.

Hemp hearts can be consumed raw, cooked or roasted. Manitoba Harvest’s Hemp Hearts can be eaten straight from the bag!

Hemp Heart Benefits

Hemp hearts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are said to have anti-inflammatory effects and potential benefits in conditions associated with inflammation, including autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease (2), King says.

They also contain the rare gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which has been shown to help with cholesterol, inflammation, skin and hair health, balancing hormones, and general heart health (3). Research also shows that GLA can improve menstrual irregularities or symptoms of PMS (4), King adds.

Hemp hearts contain more protein and fewer carbohydrates than a comparable serving of flax or chia seeds, and they’re considered a complete protein, providing all nine essential amino acids (3).

5 Ways to Use Hemp Hearts

A worthy pantry staple, hemp hearts can add a nutritional boost to any meal, King says. Some brands, like Manitoba Harvest, sell hemp hearts that are also USDA-certified organic , non-GMO Project verified, vegan and kosher.

Like other nuts and seeds, hemp hearts should be stored in the fridge once opened to prolong their life and prevent the fats from oxidizing and becoming rancid, King adds.

Here are some easy ways to incorporate hemp hearts into your diet:

Use as a Seasoning

Sprinkle hemp hearts on salads, smoothie bowls, roasted veggies, popcorn or even other proteins like chicken or fish.

Blend into Drinks or Dressings

Hemp hearts can be added to smoothies or blended into dressings. (You can also use hemp oil as a standalone salad dressing.)

Add to Baked Goods

Give cookies, breads or muffins a nutritional boost by adding hemp hearts right into the mix before baking.

Include in Soups

Stir hemp hearts into soups and sauces for texture and a subtle change in flavor.

Make Your Own Milk

Blend hemp seeds with water to make hemp seed milk, which is easier to make than other homemade nut or seeds milks because it doesn’t need to be strained, King says.


Do you plan to add hemp hearts to your diet? Let us know in the comments!


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