Powerful and nutritious, hemp hearts are up there with avocados and pomegranates as superfood for many. The levels of vitamins, proteins, fibers and essential fatty oils found in them are beautifully balanced, as well as any foodstuff in the world according to some experts.
In this post, we’ll go over exactly what hemp hearts are and their connection to marijuana, and show you how the best ways to use them in your diet.
So what are hemp hearts?
Despite the cute name, hemp hearts are the shelled seeds of the hemp plant. While a strain of Cannabis sativa, hemp is atypical in that the levels of THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid, are very low. This is why hemp products in general are totally safe to consume by all ages, with no risks of feeling high or stoned.
Thanks to the lack of THC, hemp and hemp hearts are legal in every U.S. state and can be found around the globe. The biggest grocery stores will likely stock hemp hearts, but to be on the safe side, either buy them at a specialized store or simply online. Hemp hearts certainly aren’t hard to find and you’ll have no trouble getting your hands on some.
What do hemp hearts taste like?
Unsurprisingly, hemp hearts taste quite similar to other edible seeds and nuts. They tend to be small, soft and have an uncanny resemblance to bird seed. Nutty and earthy notes are dominant flavors, but far from aggressive. As with many seeds, the taste of hemp hearts is not unpleasant but hardly, which is why they are an accompanier and not the main ingredient in recipes! Indeed, you may not even notice the hemp hearts in your finished dish. But you will notice the effects if you eat them often!
What do hemp hearts go well with?
Hemp hearts are a great addition to your breakfast – especially if you’re already eating muesli or porridge. You could also add them to smoothies or yogurt.
Salads and soups are the best lunchtime dishes to make with hemp hearts, but they’re also a good topping for Asian meals such as curry and stir fry.
When making homemade burgers, try mixing hemp hearts into the meat to give it a protein boost and a unique, crunchy meaty texture. Hemp hearts go well with pesto sauce – even more so if it has been made with hemp oil. They’re also good toppings for pizzas and can be sprinkled over pasta dishes.
Hemp hearts give desserts a fun twist, and they’re easy to put into just about any sweet, as they just need to be added to the mix – cooking them will help bring out flavor.
Thanks to the high protein content in hemp hearts, you’ll find it easier to live a little healthier. The protein reduces cravings for bad foods and stops you from overeating. They’re not a magic cure, but it all helps when trying to live on a strict, clean diet.
Nutritional value of hemp hearts
At the top, we said how hemp hearts have a remarkable balance of essential nutrients for the body – no known foodstuff in the world has better distribution. And with negligible levels of starches, sugars and saturated fats, there are no downsides to eating hemp hearts.
Let’s do some number-crunching on the makeup of a hemp heart. Just over one-third is made up of essential fatty acids like omega-3, followed by 27% carbohydrates (e.g. fiber) and 37% protein. To give these numbers more meaning, we’ll compare them with other products.
At 37% protein, there will be 37 grams of protein in a 100-gram hemp heart packet. Soy is best-known for its high protein content, yet comes in a tick lower at 36.5%. For vegans and vegetarians, hemp hearts are the perfect way of getting protein, which would otherwise be obtained from meats and dairy products. This helps to dispel the myth that vegan and vegetarian diets are unhealthy, as products like hemp hearts are proof that there are more than sufficient substitutes.
The fibers in hemp hearts, both soluble and insoluble, happen to be easy to digest and also promote good health in the body’s digestive system. Normally plant proteins are difficult for the body to digest.
The soluble fiber in hemp hearts help to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in the intestines. Meanwhile, insoluble fiber has a more indirect effect in lowering the threat of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Vitamins and minerals
Stuffed with vitamins and minerals, hemp hearts are a great way to ensure your children develop properly. Vitamin A, B1, B2, D and E are found in hemp hearts, along with calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron.
Essential fatty oils (omegas)
There’s a misconception that fat is invariably bad, but that actually only applies to saturated fats. In fact, there are healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6 that the body needs, and hemp hearts are rich in them. You’ll find even more omega-3 in hemp hearts than in fish! Guidelines recommend a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, and if you keep eating hemp hearts, you’ll have no trouble achieving that balance.