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8 Ways to Eat More Hemp Hearts (and Why You Should)

April 27, 2024

You already know that nuts and seeds are healthy, good sources of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and minerals. You may already sprinkle flaxseed meal over your morning yogurt bowl or top your salad with toasted walnuts. But there’s another seed that’s worth adding to your rotation: Hemp seeds — or, more specifically, hemp hearts. 

Hemp hearts are the softer inside part of hulled hemp seeds, and they bring a nutty flavor and lots of good nutrition to all kinds of dishes.

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You asked: Why do people eat hemp hearts?

Hemp hearts are an excellent source of macro- and micronutrients, including protein, fiber, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium, says registered dietitian-nutritionist Sarah Schlichter. A 3-tablespoon serving contains 4 grams of iron (20% of the recommended daily value) and the full RDV of manganese. Plus, a serving of hemp hearts also gives you 10 grams of plant-based protein (more than a whole egg or a glass of milk) — and, unlike many other plant sources, it’s a complete protein, with all 9 essential amino acids.

Each serving of hemp seeds also contains 25% of the RDV of thiamin and 10% of the RDVs of vitamin B6 and folate. 

Related: Eating More Nuts Can Help Boost Memory, Says New Study

Other health benefits of hemp seeds

“Hemp seeds contain arginine, an amino acid that helps produce nitric oxide in the body,” says Schlichter. “Studies show that nitric oxide can reduce blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease,” meaning that a diet rich in hemp hearts may help reduce the risk of heart disease, the number one cause of death in the U.S.

In addition, a serving of hemp seeds “provides about 2.6 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids,” says ​​Sherie Nelson, RDN. Omega-3 fatty acids help fight inflammation and support brain, eye, and heart health, as well as the immune system. The National Institutes of Health recommend that men consume 1.6 grams of ALA per day, and women 1.1 grams, so a serving of hemp will get you there easily. 

Hemp seeds can be especially beneficial for people who don’t eat omega-rich foods like fatty fish or other animal products. They contain many of the minerals more often found in animal products, such as iron, zinc, and calcium. 

Related: 8 Foods to Get More Essential Fatty Acids in Your Diet

How to eat more hemp hearts

With their mild flavor and soft, flexible texture, hemp hearts are highly versatile. It’s surprisingly easy to incorporate the seeds into many of the dishes you already love. Here are a few ways to add extra protein, fiber, and micronutrients to your diet with a sprinkle of hemp hearts:

  1. Sprinkle over yogurt or oatmeal. They add nutty crunch to your bowl. Enhance your sweet or savory breakfast oats with a few tablespoons of hemp hearts. Also, if you like to make your own granola, add a scoop of hemp hearts to the mix.
  2. Blend into a creamy sauce or dressing. Hemp hearts’ soft texture blends easily into a creamy salad dressing with a squeeze of lemon juice and a glug of olive oil. Add any other flavor enhancers you like, such as fresh herbs, dried spices, or hot sauce. 
  3. Upgrade your pancakes and waffles. You won’t even notice the addition of hemp seeds to your go-to pancake or waffle batter, but you’ll get a boost of protein and fiber for breakfast.
  4. Sprinkle over bowls, salads, and toast. Hemp hearts add crunch to greens, grains, smoothie bowls, and avocado toast. 
  5. Use them for breading. Dredge chicken or fish in a mix of hemp hearts and spices, then bake or air fry.
  6. Add to your favorite baked goods. Hemp hearts add healthy fats and protein to muffins, breads, and sweet treats like cookies and brownies. 
  7. Blend into energy bites. Blend nut butter, soft dates, and hemp seeds in a food processor, then roll up into sweet, nutrient-rich snack bites
  8. Add to veggie burgers and tacos. If you’re making a meat-free dinner, toss in hemp hearts to get more protein. Add to veggie meatballs, burgers, and more.

Is it ok to eat hemp seeds every day?

Hemp hearts sometimes get a bad rap for their association with cannabis (in fact, it only became legal to grow edible hemp in the U.S. as of 2018), but eating hemp doesn’t cause any psychoactive effects. It’s safe to eat whenever you like. Use the hearts themselves, or grab a protein powder made with them.

Read next: 7 Ways to Sneak More Protein Into Your Lunch

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