Estimates vary, but it is believed that there are anywhere between 25,000 and 50,000 uses for hemp! However, more people need to realize that the plant is a nutritional powerhouse. Hemp hearts, for example, are absolutely loaded with nutrients and possess a host of potential health benefits. This guide outlines what hemp hearts are, analyses their nutritional value, and discusses how to add them to your diet.
Hemp Seeds vs Hemp Hearts
The hemp seed in Coles comes from the same plant as hearts, but they are different parts with different benefits. Hemp hearts are the soft interior of hemp seeds once the latter is deshelled. They have a pleasant nutty flavour and are easy to consume, not to mention being incredibly versatile.
You can eat hemp hearts by the handful if you wish. However, you can add them to your yoghurt or granola in the morning, sprinkle them into a salad, include them in a fruit smoothie, or add them to homemade bread.
Hemp seeds, in contrast, are difficult to consume due to their hard shells. However, manufacturers grind down the seeds into a fine powder, which they use to create products such as hemp flour and hemp protein powder.
Incidentally, the hemp hearts in Coles don’t contain cannabinoids. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about a feeling of intoxication!
Benefits of Hemp Hearts
One may be tempted to refer to hemp hearts as a “superfood” given their remarkable array of nutrients.
Although it is a case of “the more, the merrier” when it comes to hemp hearts, adding a few tablespoons to your daily diet could make a positive difference. The health benefits of hemp hearts are manifold; here are three important ones.
Loaded with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Unfortunately, many people don’t consume nearly enough omega-fatty acids. Research suggests the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the “Western diet” is between 15:1 and 17:1. This excessive consumption of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids promotes the development of conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Studies have shown that reducing the ratio to 2.5:1 reduces rectal cell proliferation in individuals with colorectal cancer. Meanwhile, a 2:1 to 3:1 ratio suppresses inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Overall, people with high omega-3 intakes will benefit from reduced triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a form of fat linked with an increased risk of heart disease.
Individuals that try to increase their omega-3 intake tend to rely on oily fish. However, hemp hearts contain a substantial amount of this crucial fatty acid. For instance, three tablespoons (approximately 30 grams) provide over twice the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of a crucial omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid that the body cannot produce by itself.
Support Good Bone Health
Approximately 1.2 million Australians live with a form of osteoporosis. Fortunately, there are ways to decrease your risk of getting the disease, particularly via dietary choices. Typically, people focus on vitamin D and calcium, which are crucial in helping keep bones strong and healthy.
However, we shouldn’t forget about magnesium and phosphorus. There is evidence that people who consume a high level of magnesium (within a healthy range) have a higher bone mineral density, a major factor in reducing the risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture.
Meanwhile, phosphorus helps build and maintain our teeth and bones.
As it happens, hemp hearts are rich in both! Three tablespoons contain close to 70% of your RDA for both nutrients.
Help Your Body Convert Food to Energy
Numerous nutrients play a huge role in ensuring we can function normally and live healthy and active lives. Most people are unaware of a significant proportion of them!
Take manganese, for example. It is a mineral that assists in breaking down the sugar and starches we eat. It also helps process protein, carbohydrates, and cholesterol. Overall, manganese supports a healthier immune system, strong bones, and blood clotting.
Thiamine (vitamin B1) is another important nutrient that perhaps doesn’t get the attention it warrants. It breaks down the carbohydrates we consume so they can be used as energy. A lack of thiamine can lead to weight loss, muscle weakness, memory problems, a reduction in appetite, and even heart issues!
A three-tablespoon serving of hemp hearts contains about 130% of our RDA of manganese and 35% of our thiamine RDA.
Hemp Hearts Nutrition Facts
We have already explored some aspects of hemp hearts’ nutritional profile. You now know they have high levels of manganese, thiamine, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and phosphorus. However, the above only scratches the surface!
A 30-gram serving of hemp hearts contains about 9.5 grams of protein, which equates to over 31 grams of protein per 100g of hemp hearts. This is a higher percentage than steak, chicken, fish, or turkey! Here is an overview of what to expect from a three-tablespoon serving of hemp hearts:
- 166 calories
- 5g of protein
- 6g of fat
- 2g of fibre
- 6g of carbohydrate
- 5g of sugar
- 5mg of sodium
- 210mg of magnesium
- 360mg of potassium
- 495mg of phosphorus
- 4mg of iron
- 3mg of zinc
- 3mg of manganese
Bottom Line on Hemp Hearts
Hemp hearts are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you’ve never tried! They are the soft interior of hemp seeds and have a pleasant nutty taste. You can eat them from the packet or add some to various recipes.
Best of all, they are becoming increasingly easy to find. No longer are hemp hearts confined to niche health stores. You can now find them in major supermarket chains such as Coles. Make your way to the natural or organic foods aisle, and they’ll probably be waiting for you.
With potential health benefits, including stronger bones, more energy, and improved heart health, it is well worth adding hemp hearts to your diet.