Hemp is now a bonafide superfood: Hemp is super-nutritious and although tiny, quite mighty. Hemp seeds have become popular because they are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals. They are from the same species as cannabis but a different variety. There’s a distinct difference between psychoactive and non-psychoactive forms of hemp, according to the journal Nutrition and Metabolism.
Technically a nut, hemp is exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has been linked to several health benefits. Hemp seeds are a great protein source. Hemp seeds are also a great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
To reap the benefits, I suggest 1-2 tablespoons of hemp seeds—AKA hemp—to your diet in a variety of ways. Mix them into to your smoothie or bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. And at dinner or lunch, sprinkle them on top of your salad, grain bowl, or plate of pasta. You can also try hemp milk—a non-dairy option made from blending hemp hearts with water. Try hemp butter—ground-up hemp hearts—makes a healthy peanut butter substitute.

Benefits of Hemp Seeds

1. Hemp seeds may help build muscle mass

To change your routine, try hemp seeds in your smoothie instead of plant-based protein powder. Hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Two tablespoons provide 11 grams of protein—equivalent to approximately 3 oz of cottage cheese.

2. Hemp seeds may benefit the heart

Eating hemp seeds helps prevent heart disease, keep arteries open and decrease blood pressure. Thanks to a significant amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The seeds contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which produces nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide is a molecule that makes your blood vessels dilate and relax, leading to lowered blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease. In a study of about 13,000 people, increased arginine intake corresponded with decreased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker. High levels of CRP are linked to heart disease.

The gamma-linolenic acid found in hemp seeds has also been linked to reduced inflammation, which may decrease your risk of diseases like heart disease. Additionally, animal studies have shown that hemp seeds or hemp seed oil may reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of blood clot formation and help the heart recover after a heart attack.

3. Whole Hemp Seeds May Aide with your bowel movements

Whole hemp seeds are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, containing 20% and 80%, respectively. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in your gut. It’s a valuable source of nutrients for beneficial good bacteria and may also reduce spikes in blood sugar and regulate cholesterol levels.

Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and may help food and waste pass through your gut. It has also been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes.

However, de-hulled or shelled hemp seeds — also known as hemp hearts — contain very little fiber because the fiber-rich shell has been removed.

Nutrient Breakdown of Hemp Heart Seeds, per Serving Size of 2 tablespoons:

  • Protein —  11g protein
  • Healthy fats — 14g of fat 80% essential fatty acids [omega-3 (22%), omega-6 (55%)]
  • Iron — 16% DV
  • Magnesium — 48% DV
  • Zinc — 23% DV

bottom line

Hemp seeds provide an A+ for nutritional value. They are rich in healthy fats, high-quality protein, and several minerals. Overall, hemp seeds are incredibly healthy. A superfood worthy of their reputation.

Tips and Tricks

Store Hemp seeds in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer to prevent the fatty acids from oxidizing quickly.


Carol Aguirre MS, RD/LDN