Here are the health benefits associated with consuming hemp seeds

If you’re a fan of crunchy textures and nutty flavors, hemp seeds might have their place on your plate. The small seeds are easy to use and eat, making them ideal for snacks and entrees. Plus, they’re packed with essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals, to name a few.

Read on to learn more about the health benefits of hemp seeds, as well as how to use them at home.

What are hemp seeds?

Hemp seeds are the oval shaped edible seeds of the hemp plant. The plant is related to marijuana, but it does not have psychoactive effects. This is because hemp, unlike marijuana, does not contain noticeable amounts of THC, the chemical that makes you feel “high”. Whole hemp seeds also have a hard light brown shell and an extra crunchy texture.

However, these are often shelled (i.e. shelled) to expose the greenish-beige kernels. These peeled, also called hemp hearts or hemp nuts, are softer but still slightly crunchy. At the supermarket, hemp hearts are usually found in the nuts and seeds section. You can also find them in powder form, usually in plant protein powders.

The health benefits

Image: Courtesy of Goh Rhy Yan / Unsplash

Despite their small size, hemp seeds are packed with essential nutrients. They are rich in Omega 3 and omega-6 fatty acids, also called “good” fats. “These fats can help manage cholesterol, triglyceride and blood pressure levels,” says the dietitian. Victoria whittington, RD. Your body cannot produce these fats, so it’s important to get them through foods like hemp seeds, salmon, and nuts.

“Hemp seeds are [also] an excellent source of vitamin E and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc, ”notes Whittington. “Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress, promotes healthy skin, manages diabetes and [potentially] relieves osteoarthritis. Meanwhile, the minerals found in these seeds support a range of basic functions, from immunity to brain health.

In terms of protein, these are exceptionally impressive. According to Susan Greeley, RDN, registered dietitian-nutritionist and chef-instructor at Culinary Education Institute, they’re one of the few plant sources of complete protein, which means they offer all nine essential amino acids.

A Quick Nutrition Lesson: “Amino acids are the building blocks of all protein in the body,” says Greeley. However, the body cannot make all nine essential amino acids, notes Whittington, so getting them through the diet is crucial. Most sources of complete protein are animal products (think meat, eggs, and dairy), but hemp seeds are a wonderful plant-based option to refuel.

How to enjoy hemp seeds at home

Hemp seeds have a slightly nutty taste, which makes them ideal for a myriad of dishes. One of the easiest ways to use hemp seeds is to sprinkle them over a meal, like a salad, chili, or pasta, says Greeley. Their crunchy texture works especially well with richer foods, like roasted pumpkin soup or seared scallops, as recommended by Whittington.

“[Hemp seeds] can also be mixed in a breakfast cereal bowl or yogurt parfait with your favorite granola, ”she adds. Another option is to mix a spoonful of hemp seeds into a smoothie, like a cinnamon smoothie, or baked goods like brownies.

But hemp hearts are more than just a topper or supplement. They can also serve as a main ingredient, as shown by the Banana Energy Bites. Simply spread nut butter on a banana, then roll it in hemp seeds for a nutritious and easy snack. On the appetizer aisle, they can be used to coat a protein, just like you would with nuts or breadcrumbs.

“Another way to [enjoy] hempseed involves using hemp milk in place of cow’s milk or other plant-based milks, ”Greeley shares. You can find hemp seed milk at the supermarket. Hemp seed milk is both gluten and nut free, so it’s ideal for multiple dietary restrictions.

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