What Are Hemp Hearts and What Do They Do?
Whether you enjoy a splash of dairy-free milk in your morning coffee, are partial to a plant-based protein smoothie, or like a sprinkling of seeds on top of your porridge or salad, there’s a whole host of ways you can incorporate hemp into your diet. But the most versatile of the bunch has to be hemp hearts.
If you’re a newbie to plant-based diets, or even if you’re not, you may have heard a lot of talk about hemp hearts , yet don’t actually know too much about them. Well, it’s time to get clued up as we delve into the facts surrounding these magical sources of nutritional goodness and teach you just how beneficial they are for your health and wellbeing.
What Are Hemp Hearts?
Similar to chia or flax seeds, hemp hearts are jam-packed with nutrients, so it’s no surprise they’ve become a popular pantry staple. But what exactly are hemp hearts and where do they come from?
Derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant, hemp hearts are simply the soft inner part of hemp seeds once they have been unshelled – their squishy centre, if you will. Despite sharing the same plant mother, hemp hearts don’t contain CBD or THC , therefore will not make you feel high, just in case you were worried.
So how can you incorporate hemp hearts into your diet?
While we could easily recommend shovelling down a handful of hemp hearts as a snack — you’ll love their nutty flavour and chewy texture — there are hundreds of other creative ways in which you can use them to boost your daily protein intake. From sprinkling on your breakfast cereal or yoghurt, to incorporating them into baked goods such as cookies, muffins, breads and other healthy snacks , dosing up on these little guys is one of many plant-based ways we can increase our protein intake .
Are Hemp Hearts and Hemp Seeds the same thing?
Hemp seeds are extracted from the Sativa plant and have a hard, nut-like exterior and a soft inside. Hemp hearts are the name commonly given to that seed’s soft inside.
While the terms are often used interchangeably, hemp seeds are rarely eaten due to their crunchy and hard shell which loves to get stuck in your teeth. Therefore to make products such as hemp protein , hemp milk and hemp oil , we deshell our hemp seeds and just use the hearts. However, the crunchy shell is a great source of fibre, and when ground down to a fine powder, works a treat in baking or used as a supplement in smoothies – meet our Hemp Seed Flour .
Benefits of Hemp Hearts
These hemp hearts may be small, but they really do pack a punch when it comes to their nutritional benefits. Just a few daily tablespoons of these superfood seeds can take care of everything from your heart health to upping your intake of muscle-building macronutrients. Basically, it’s a powerhouse in the seed world.
1. Natural Nutritional Supplements
We like to refer to hemp hearts as magic seeds, because they’ve seriously got our backs when it comes to health and wellness – plus we don’t have to wait in line at the prescription counter for them.
These little guys are loaded with protein (with three tablespoons racking up a mighty 9.5 grams – more than a single egg!), plus a healthy dose of fibre, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin B1 and beyond. So it’s sure to tick all your vitamin and mineral boxes.
2. Beneficial for Heart Disease
These aptly-named hemp hearts are actually extremely good for – you guessed it – your heart, thanks to their super high fatty acid content. Seafood usually comes up trumps as one of the best sources for omega-3 fatty acids, but our little hearts deserve a shoutout, too.
And why are omega-3 fatty acids so important for your heart health? Well, not only do they help reduce levels of triglycerides (a type of fat linked with increased risk of heart disease), they also reduce build-up in your arteries , lowering the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Not only that, but they help to lower blood pressure – so we’d say they’re pretty important!
In fact, did you know that just three tablespoons of hemp hearts provide more than double your daily recommended amount of alpha-linolenic acid ? This is the type of omega-3 that the body can’t produce on its own, and therefore has to source from your diet.
*frantically adds hemp hearts to basket*
3. Digestion Aids
In addition to a perfectly pumping heart, indulging in a handful of these superseeds every day can also help us maintain a healthy gut. You see, hemp hearts are also a good source of soluble and insoluble fibre, both of which provide the human body with valuable nutrients for your digestive bacteria. These help to reduce blood sugar spikes, regulate cholesterol levels and reduce any unwanted toxins in your gut. Have a high-fibre diet and everybody’s happy!
But that’s not all! Here are a few more benefits of bringing hemp heart into your diet that we haven’t even mentioned yet:
- Improves immunity levels
- Improves brain health
- Combats menopause and PMS symptoms
- Reduces inflammation
- Balances hormones
- Promotes weight loss
- Supports stronger bones
- Reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Improves skin conditions
- Provides relief for rheumatoid arthritis
Now you know just how powerful these miniature plant-based gems are for your health, you’ll want to snap up a package or two of your own to try, right? Well you’re in luck! Whether you pop it in your handbag for an on-the-move protein hit or store it pride of place on your kitchen shelf, Good Hemp’s hemp seed heart pouches are perfect for all your sprinkling, stirring and baking needs.
Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Hemp Seeds
Those who frequent the bulk nuts and seeds section of the supermarket might already be familiar with hemp hearts, the edible interiors of the seed that hemp grows from. For those who have yet to come across hemp hearts, however, their reputation shouldn’t be associated with another plant byproduct you might immediately be thinking of.
The hemp plant, which is the source of where hemp heart seeds are cultivated from, does share the same plant species as the marijuana plant, known as the Cannabis Sativa L, reports the Huffington Post. But the hemp plant contains nearly undetectable levels of THC as compared to marijuana plants – hemp hearts contain less than 0.3 percent, while traditional marijuana plants can contain levels upward of 10 to 30 percent. You won’t get high eating hemp hearts, nor will you fail a drug test.
What Is Hemp? Understanding The Differences Between Hemp and Cannabis
When trying to wrap your head around the differences between hemp and cannabis, it is important to begin with this simple concept: Both hemp and cannabis ultimately come from the same plant… just different parts. Whether you call something hemp or cannabis will depend on a variety of factors which we will explore in this article. However, despite the fact that the terms hemp and cannabis are often used interchangeably, they do have separate connotations.
Differentiating Between Hemp and Cannabis
Unfortunately, prohibition has spurred a lack of education surrounding the cannabis plant. This has led to countless rumors about what makes hemp different from cannabis. Everything from “hemp plants are male and cannabis plants are female” to “cannabis is a drug and the other is not” are incorrectly being preached as common knowledge to unknowing bystanders. So, how are these terms supposed to be used? Let’s find out.
“Health Canada defines hemp as products of Cannabis Sativa which contain less than 0.3 percent THC, whereas US law defines hemp as all parts of any Cannabis Sativa plant containing no psychoactive properties, except for defined exceptions.”
According to a 1976 study published by the International Association of Plant Taxonomy concluded “both hemp varieties and marijuana varieties are of the same genus, Cannabis, and the same species, Cannabis Sativa. Further, there are countless varieties that fall into further classifications within the species Cannabis Sativa.”
However, depending on how the plant is grown and utilized will determine which term is correct. For instance, the term cannabis (or marijuana) is used when describing a Cannabis Sativa plant that is bred for its potent, resinous glands (known as trichomes). These trichomes contain high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid most known for its psychoactive properties.
Hemp, on the other hand, is used to describe a Cannabis Sativa plant that contains only trace amounts of THC. Hemp is a high-growing plant, typically bred for industrial uses such as oils and topical ointments, as well as fiber for clothing, construction, and much more.
Only products made from industrial hemp (less than 0.3% THC) are legal to sell, buy, consume, and ship. This single factor (0.3%) is how most people distinguish between what is classified as “hemp” and what is classified as “cannabis.” This limit has led to mass controversy (for good reason), which we will dive into a bit later. But first, let’s take a look at how hemp is utilized all over the world.
Industrial Hemp Uses
From hemp apparel and accessories to diets and hempseed oil cosmetics, the plant is seemingly found everywhere you look. Hemp can be made into wax, resin, rope, cloth paper and fuel, among many other things.
Hemp for Paper
One of the reasons hemp is so valuable is because of its fiber length and strength. These long bast fibers have been used to make paper almost for 2 millennia. Thomas Jefferson drafted both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution on hemp paper.
Until the early 19th century, hemp and flax were the two chief paper-making materials. In historical times, paper was processed from hemp rag. Using hemp directly for paper was considered too expensive, due to its lack of demand at the time. Wood-based paper came into use when mechanical and chemical pulping was developed in the mid 1800s in Germany and England. Today, at least 95% of paper is made from wood pulp. This makes little sense when considering hemp can easily produce much more paper per acre than wood pulp alternatives.
The hemp paper process also utilizes less energy and fewer chemicals than tree paper processing and doesn’t create the harmful dioxins, chloroform, or any of the other 2,000 chlorinated organic compounds that have been identified as byproducts of the wood paper process.
According to Hemp: A New Crop with New Uses for North America, “the primary bast fibers in the bark are 5–40 mm long, and are amalgamated in fiber bundles which can be 1–5 m long (secondary bast fibers are about 2 mm long). The woody core fibers are short—about 0.55 mm—and like hardwood fibers are cemented together with considerable lignin. The core fibers are generally considered too short for high grade paper applications (a length of 3 mm is considered ideal), and too much lignin is present.”
Hemp for Food
Studies have shown consumption of raw hemp seeds can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, accelerate weight loss, improve one’s immune system, control blood sugar levels, and even reduce inflammation. This makes hemp seeds extremely nutritious. They contain a bundle of essential amino acids and fatty-acids. This may explain why the “hemp for food” industry is growing rapidly and has increased over 300 percent, to an estimated 25,000 products, in the past few years.
In its raw form, hemp has the second highest amount of protein of any food (soy being the highest). However, because the hemp seed’s protein more closely resembles the protein found in human blood, it is much easier to digest than soy protein. Hemp seeds can be eaten whole, pressed into oil, or ground into flour for baking.
In America, products derived from hemp seed, such as hemp seed spreads, hemp seed energy bars, hemp seed meal, and hemp oil – are widely available in natural food stores such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s supermarkets.
Hemp for Health & Body
Hemp seed oil is perfectly suited for hair and skin care. Its nutritional value, combined with its moisturizing and replenishing EFA’s, make it one of the best vegetable body care foundations. Hemp seed oil’s EFA complement includes polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3, omega-6, omega-9, linoleic acid, and gamma linoleic acids (GLA’s). Although they are very effective in skin care maintenance, GLA’s are rarely found in natural oils. Hemp is an excellent source of GLA’s.
Additionally, oil derived from hemp seed has shown promise in treating eczema (chronic dry skin) in patients, although whole-plant cannabis oil has been proven to be more effective in treating more severe skin disorders, like skin cancer.
Hemp for Fuel
Hemp seeds have provided a combustible fuel oil throughout human history. Basically, hemp can provide two types of fuel:
1. Hemp biodiesel – made from the oil of the (pressed) hemp seed.
2. Hemp ethanol/methanol – made from the fermented stalk.
The concept of using oil derived from vegetables as an engine fuel is nothing new. In 1895, Dr. Rudolf Diesel developed the first diesel engine to run on vegetable oil — peanut oil to be exact. When you press the hemp seeds and extract the oil, you are actually creating hemp biodiesel. Additionally, through processes such as gasification, hemp can be used to make both ethanol and methanol.
The Controversy of Classifying Hemp vs. Cannabis
The international definition of hemp (as opposed to cannabis) was developed by a Canadian researcher in 1971 who goes by the name of Ernest Small. Small’s arbitrary 0.3 percent THC limit has become standard around the world as the official limit for legal hemp, after he published a little-known, but very influential book titled The Species Problem in Cannabis.
“There is not any natural point at which the cannabinoid content can be used to distinguish strains of hemp and marijuana.” – Ernest Small
In this same book , Small discusses how “there is not any natural point at which the cannabinoid content can be used to distinguish strains of hemp and marijuana.” Despite this, Small continued to “draw an arbitrary line on the continuum of cannabis types, and decided that 0.3 percent THC in a sifted batch of cannabis flowers was the difference between hemp and marijuana.” As you can imagine, this has led to some controversy and confusion as to what truly constitutes the difference between hemp and cannabis.
Additionally, your location will determine your understanding of what constitutes hemp vs cannabis. For instance, Health Canada defines hemp as products of Cannabis Sativa which contain less than 0.3 percent THC, whereas U.S. law defines hemp as all parts of any Cannabis Sativa plant containing no psychoactive properties, except for defined exceptions.
A recent court case between Hemp Industries Association v. DEA concluded “the DEA can regulate foodstuffs containing natural THC if it is contained within marijuana, and can regulate synthetic THC of any kind. But they cannot regulate naturally-occurring THC not contained within or derived from marijuana—i.e., non-psychoactive hemp products— because non-psychoactive hemp is not included in Schedule I.”
Hemp Seed Oil vs. Hemp Extract vs. Cannabis Oil
Hemp seed oil is extracted by pressing the seeds of the female cannabis hemp plant. The hemp oil extracted is very nutritious in terms of a dietary supplement but hemp seed oil lacks cannabinoids, which are the main compounds found in the cannabis plant that have the ability to help battle cancer. Hemp seed oil is found mostly in products in your local grocery store and typically contains twice the levels of omega 3 found in olive oil with only half of the total calories.
There is a big difference between hemp seed oil and hemp/CBD extract. Hemp/CBD extract is the main ingredient in popular products like Charlotte’s Web and other CBD-specific brands. Products containing hemp/CBD extract do have a wide range of cannabinoids, just limited to no THC. Because the total THC content is below the legal limit, products consisting of hemp/CBD extract can be shipped nationwide, across all 50 states. These types of products can be beneficial for increasing the quality of one’s life; many patients report that they have found relief for a wide range of ailments from hemp extract alone. However, the lack of THC does provide an issue for patients that have a treatment plan that requires high doses of THC, so it will depend on your specific use-case.
Patients looking to treat more serious diseases and chronic illnesses will want to look into whole-plant cannabis oil treatments (i.e., Rick Simpson Oil). Products consisting of whole plant cannabis oil provide high doses of concentrated cannabinoids (e.g., THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, etc…), terpenes, and other compounds from the plant that many patients and caregivers need to help find relief from a wide variety of ailments.
Click here to learn more about different types of cannabis extracts