Ask the average person about hemp, and you’re bound to get an answer that has something to do with marijuana. What many people don’t know is that hemp seeds are incredibly healthy and especially useful for vegans. Furthermore, many people don’t know that hemp-seed protein can be used in a similar manner as soybeans. In other words, you can make hemp-seed tofu, butter, cheese, milk, and ice cream. Besides tasting great (we love them in vegan chocolate!), hemp seeds are also an amazing treat for your body that are now carried in many popular grocery stores and in bulk from Costco. And, no, they won’t get you high or cause you to fail a drug test. Put all of your hemp-seed fears, and give this healthy, delicious food a try.
1. We repeat: hemp seeds won’t get you high
Let’s get the big question out of the way first: hemp seeds and marijuana are not the same thing. Both come from the hemp plant cannabis sativa, but hemp seeds contain only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component in marijuana that gets people high. Even better? Hemp seeds from Canada, a major producer, contain no THC at all.
2. Hemp seeds contain all the good fats (and still not enough THC to catch a buzz)
Hemp seeds are filled with omega-6 and omega-3 fats, which are the two essential fatty acids your body needs to function optimally. Best of all, hemp seeds offer between a 2:1 and 3:1 ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats, which nutritionists consider the optimal range. A handful of hemp seeds eaten raw or mixed into your breakfast smoothie can help you feel fuller for longer.
3. Puff, puff, protein
Hemp seeds can be a big help for vegans looking to get plenty of protein. They provide more protein than either flaxseeds or chia seeds and are actually comparable, by weight, to beef and lamb. More importantly, because they include essential amino acids that the body cannot produce, hemp seeds are a complete protein source.
4. Your heart loves hemp seeds
Without getting too technical, hemp seeds are rich in a special amino acid called “arginine,” which helps your blood vessels relax. Arginine can lead to lowered blood pressure, which your heart appreciates. Another component in hemp seeds called “gamma-linolenic acid” has been linked to lower inflammation. Studies, such as this one and this one, suggest that these factors can lower the risk of a heart attack.
5. That good good
What other goodies can such a little seed contain? The answer, it turns out, is a lot! Hemp seeds are also an excellent source of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc. It’s no wonder that hemp seeds make almost every list of known superfoods.
6. Wake and bake
Hemp seeds are actually a nut. You can eat them raw, cook them, or roast them. They have a mild, nutty flavor that is pleasant but not overwhelming, which makes them the perfect add-in to any recipe. We love mixing raw hemp seeds into our morning banana-almond milk smoothie. The hemp seeds provide texture, while the fats and protein in the seeds fill us up. You can also pop a handful of raw seeds as a quick snack, add them to bread, or toss them into a salad.