Hemp Hearts: The Healthy Food for Your Heart

Mehak Shah

June 20, 2022

Hemp hearts are the soft inner part of hemp seeds that is appreciated well only after removing their hard shells. It has a mild, nutty flavour. It comes from cannabis sativus. But there are two main types of cannabis sativus that produce: 

1. Drug products include hashish and marijuana, and several other compounds with psychoactive compounds. It contains psychoactive compounds ranging from 1% to 20%, enough for psychoactivity.

2. Non-drug product includes our main topic of discussion here: hemp seeds and hemp hearts. It does not contain the psychoactive compound. However, it also contains psychoactive compounds in trace amounts less than 0.3%. This amount of psychoactive compound won’t make the consumer feel high.

Are Hemp Hearts Healthy?

There is a lack of reliable studies. However, people have started realising its benefits with time and technology advancing. The fear of psychotropic properties is steadily getting overshadowed by its benefits. People are looking towards this hempseed as it is high in nutrition, such as protein, iron, and other nutrients. It has more iron than spinach, and in protein content, it is equivalent to soybean, which we study as the best source of protein. Other nutritional and high protein content provides an extra edge over other seeds like soybeans and olive seeds. It is an excellent source of plant-based proteins. It is also rich in vitamin B6 and folate. With the detailed groundwork of researchers, we will see it as a culinary oil very soon.

It is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. FSSAI recently reported its validity and made its use in India legal. However, legally stated in other Western countries that hemp seed, hemp seed oil, and hemp seed flour should be sold as food or used as an ingredient in a food for sale, subject to conforming standards. It can give positive tests on urine analysis due to the small but psychoactive compound THC, which is less than 0.3%.

Cannabis has been a good source of medicines and fibres since time immemorial. Its roots go back to the pre-civilization era according to Indian literature and Vedas. It got a particular emphasis in the ancient period because it was among one of the favourites of the Indian God Lord Shiva. So we can see Indian people offering the same in front of Lord Shiva as a way of their prayers.

Hemp Seeds also contain essential amino acids and many other health-benefiting compounds. The beneficial properties it offers are worth ignoring its traces of psychoactive compounds. So let’s dive into the world of hemp seeds and get high with the knowledge.

Nutritional Properties of Hemp Hearts

As per USDA, the nutritional composition of 100 grams of hemp hearts contains:

  • Water: 4.96g
  • Energy: 553kcal
  • Protein: 31.6g
  • Total lipid (fat): 48.8g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.67g
  • Fibres: 4g
  • Sucrose: 0.85g
  • Glucose: 0.2g
  • Fructose: 0.31g
  • Lactose: 0.07g
  • Maltose: 0.07g
  • Calcium: 70mg
  • Iron: 7.95mg
  • Magnesium: 700mg
  • Phosphorus: 1650mg
  • Potassium: 1200mg
  • Sodium: 5mg
  • Zinc: 9.9mg
  • Copper: 1.6mg

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Linoleic acid is the precursor of omega-6 fatty acid. Earlier, there was a belief that omega-6 fatty acids enhance inflammation; however, studies show that further detailed groundwork is necessary to get a reliable answer on whether or not it helps decrease inflammation. There are pieces of evidence for it, however, mostly against it. 

Omega-6 fatty acids do not work alone in the body, but it does with omega-3 fatty acids. Their complex interaction determines the overall metabolism of the body. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids ratio is a more definite marker for cardiovascular health. The ratio of the fatty acids is ideal in hemp seeds. Hence, hemp seeds have become an essential alternative in the diet of patients suffering from cardiovascular disease and for people who want to prevent any cardiovascular malfunction in the near or immediate future.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Alpha-linolenic acid is the precursor of omega-3 fatty acids. According to studies, decreased omega-3 fatty acids in the diet may lead to various chronic diseases. Hence it is necessary to balance omega-3 and omega-6.

DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid found mainly in marine fishes. However, nuts provide a better vegan alternative to DHA on the ground. Hemp hearts are rich in DHA. It is vital for the normal development of the brain, deficiency of which may lead to several neurological manifestations. EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) is also an omega-3 fatty acid with the exact origin of DHA, which includes marine fishes such as salmon. EPA becomes vital as it delays blood clotting time, preventing potential heart strokes. It also decreases the level of cholesterol and thus maintains cardiovascular health.

Protein and Amino Acids

It has protein equivalent to soybean seeds, with the highest protein content worldwide. A total of 65% protein content of hemp hearts are in a form that the body can use in the raw state. Studies show that 20 different amino acids make up protein, 10 are essential, and 10 are non-essential. Essential amino acids are not synthesised naturally by our body, and one must consume them. Proteins are present in almost every cell organelle. It is involved in all metabolic reactions as they are the basic building block of human cells. Almost all enzymes are proteins. The acceptable protein intake should be 10% to 35% of total calorie intake. 

Hemp hearts also contain all essential amino acids, out of which arginine is the primary substituent. Arginine is the precursor of many compounds and reactions; however, a unique compound, NO, is made from arginine, which plays an extensive role in the body’s metabolic reactions. It is the compound involved in the erection of the penis, so hemp hearts become crucial dietary components for the person with erectile dysfunction syndrome.


Hemp seeds are also rich in iron. It contains almost five times iron as compared to spinach of equivalent weight. Iron is an essential micronutrient as it acts as an enzyme activator and inhibitor. Thus, one can use it to regulate molecules by the body according to its needs.


It contains zero cholesterol. Hence, its oil is a better alternative for cooking oils for people diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia. In addition, patients who have suffered a heart attack or chest pain should use this oil for cooking. 

Studies show that cholesterol increases the chances of heart attack and several other cardiovascular system malfunctions. The landmark of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis, a chronic inflammatory condition caused by the deposition of cholesterol and fibrous tissues in the arterial walls, which build up and eventually narrow and thicken or block the arterial lumen. The inflammation regulates plaque formation as well as the thrombotic complications of atherosclerosis.


  • Hulled Hemp Seeds- This variety is also known as hemp hearts. It is easier to use as the outer shell is removed, therefore only left with the soft centre. 
  • Whole Hemp seeds- The whole seeds of hemp are intact with nutrients. Since it is rich in various nutrients, it influences several positive health outcomes. It acts as a bulking agent, making us feel fuller for a long time, thereby aiding weight loss. 

Health Benefits of Hemp Hearts

These tiny seeds contain a lot of benefits and a secret to a healthy lifestyle, all in just a tiny inconspicuous seed. Truly a marvel of nature. Let’s look at some of the health benefits of hemp hearts.

Inhibits Inflammatory Responses

Omega-3 is abundant in hemp hearts. Contrary to the earlier belief that omega-6 fatty acids increase inflammation, the advent of technology in science and ongoing studies establishes that it reduces inflammatory responses. However, the complex interaction of omega-3 with omega-6 and its combined effect is still unclear.

Brain Development

Hemp hearts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA, whose substrate is an omega-6 fatty acid. DHA, alongside EPA, is essential for normal brain development and normal overall development. Therefore, any defect in the mechanism due to either omega-3 fatty acid or omega-6 fatty acid deficiency can result in chronic disease and neurological manifestations.

Decreases Myocardial Infarction and Strokes

It surprisingly inhibits platelet aggregation by interfering with compounds such as Thromboxanes. Thus it prevents the clot formation in the bloodstream leading to decreased cases of myocardial infarction and strokes. In addition, linoleic acid contributes to the prevention of high blood pressure and controls blood pressure by maintaining it in a normal range.

Reduces Cholesterol Levels

Research suggests it also decreases cholesterol levels by reducing bad cholesterol means LDL, and increasing good cholesterol means HDL. Omega-3 fatty acids mainly decrease the cholesterol level of the body.

Helps Lose Weight

Due to zero cholesterol and large amounts of protein, it helps in weight loss and increases the body’s muscle mass. It reduces obesity while at the same time making muscles of the limbs more robust due to high protein content.

Mitigates Constipation

It contains fibres in handsome amounts. Hence it can be used as a laxative and can cure the problems of irregular bowel movements and constipation—a problem many people face due to an unhealthy lifestyle. Research suggests fibres add the bulk to the stool and make it easier to pass, thus preventing constipation. In addition, fibres have many other benefits. For example, it decreases the glucose levels in the body, thus preventing Diabetes mellitus, a problem faced by almost one-third of the Indian population.

Improves Skin Health

It also improves skin conditions though its use as a skin remedy is limited and not well discussed. Ingesting it improves skin quality naturally. Polyunsaturated fatty acids can provide moisture to the skin and thus maintain the skin’s usual glow.

Relieves Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where antibodies form against one’s body. It is a severe disease. With their nutrients and other beneficial properties, Hemp hearts prove to mitigate the pain from rheumatoid arthritis and reduce rheumatoid arthritis through its anti-inflammation property.

Potential Side Effects

Even though it comes with several benefits; however, it may present some adverse effects when taken in excess. However, when taken in moderation, these are the best seeds. But some people are allergic to nuts. In those people, it can present some anaphylactic reactions. Furthermore, studies show that it increases blood viscosity. Because it increases the density of the blood, it can lead to coronary complications. Linoleic acid, one of the significant substituents, is associated with an increased risk of Coronary Heart Disease.

It also inhibits platelet aggregation, thus increasing the clotting time. So in cases of cuts or people with internal bleeding issues, it is best to avoid them. However, studies have shown that patients with hypercholesterolemia showed normal platelet aggregation. It also does not have any effect on arrhythmias.


The allergic reactions include swelling of lips or eyelids, skin rashes, itchy eyes and throat, cough, sneezing, difficulty in breathing, etc., just after its consumption. Anaphylactic reactions are the main reason for allergies. Putting ice packs/cubes on the rashes might help in controlling it. 

The Best Ways to Use Hemp Hearts

  • One can make hemp milk out of hemp seeds. 
  • Add hemp seeds to make the smoothies creamier. Adding a handful of hemp seeds to your smoothies makes them richer and more nutritious. Thus making the smoothies more satisfying and also adding a nutty flavour.
  • You can use them as a sprinkler on salads and desserts.
  • Try to go creative and make energy bites with oatmeal and hemp hearts, healthy parfait, and porridge. 
  • You can alternatively add hemp seed oil to salads. 

Storage and Safety

Hemp seeds are more fragile than other seeds. So hemp seeds, once opened, should be kept in an airtight container and at a temperature less than 25°C. One can use refrigeration; however, they have a shelf life of about a year below mentioned temperature. Furthermore, there have been studies regarding this; studies have shown that refrigeration is required, and it is safe to use within one year of packet opening when properly refrigerated. It is also totally safe for consumption as it is non-toxic and has no psychoactive properties. 


Hemp hearts are non-toxic seeds with no psychoactive properties like their other variety from the same species. Hemp seeds are packed with goodness as it contains health-benefiting properties. It contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, out of which 80% are essential, which is just enough to show its importance. It also includes proteins and iron in large amounts. Hemp hearts also holds all essential amino acids required for the body’s normal functioning. It is legal for consumption in India. These amazing seeds inhibit platelet aggregation, thus decreasing the chances of myocardial infarction and strokes. It also has many benefits, such as weight loss and many other properties. However, it increases the risk of Coronary Heart disease and increases clotting time, thus avoided in patients with vases of internal bleeding. It has a typical shelf life of a year under proper refrigeration. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What do hemp hearts do for your body?

A. Hemp hearts are beneficial for the body in many ways, decreasing the chances of myocardial infarction and strokes. It contains Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA, which prevent chronic diseases and are essential for normal brain development and other neurological structures. It also has many essential amino acids packed with proteins and iron.

Q. Do hemp hearts contain CBD? 

A. No! It will not make you feel high since hemp hearts do not contain cannabidiol (CBD), as it is from the other variety of Cannabis Sativus. Marijuana contains CBD, which makes people euphoric. 

Q. Are hemp seeds and hemp hearts the same?

A. Hemp hearts and hemp seeds are a little bit different. Hemp hearts are the soft inner part of hemp seeds, seen after their tough shell gets removed. So hemp seed is hemp heart combined with hemp shell.

Q. Are hemp hearts good for weight loss? 

A. Yes, hemp hearts are good for weight loss because of zero cholesterol and large amounts of protein which helps in weight loss. It also has omega-3 fatty acids that decline bad cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol levels. In addition, it gives a feeling of fullness that aids in weight loss. 

Q. Will eating hemp hearts show up on a drug test? 

A. Studies have shown that hemp hearts can lead to a positive drug test on screening because hemp seeds also contain a psychoactive compound of less than 0.3%, though in traces that won’t make you feel high.

Q. Will hemp seeds make you fail the drug test? 

A. Yes, hemp seeds can make you fail a drug test because of 0.3% THC( psychoactive compound). However, the use of hemp was legalised by FSSAI recently, so that we can expect some future drug screening changes. But as for now, it can make you fail a drug test.

Q. Are hemp hearts illegal? 

A. No, hemp seeds are not illegal as FSSAI issued a notification on 15th November 2021, stating, “The hemp seed, hemp seed oil, and hemp seed flour shall be sold as food or used as an ingredient in a food for sale subject to conforming standards.”

Q. Do hemp seeds make you sleepy?

A. No, it does not make you feel sleepy; instead, you can use it as an energising agent. Since every person is unique, different people show different responses to it; for some, it is calming and relaxing, and for some, it is waking and alerting. 

Q. Does hemp oil help with anxiety? 

A. Yes, hemp oil can help with anxiety as it provides a sense of calmness. In addition, it can relieve pressure, stress, depression, or anxiety due to its relaxing effect obtained from amino acids, magnesium, and vitamin B complex.

Q. Can you eat too many hemp hearts?

A. Overeating hemp heart doesn’t elicit any significant response from the body; the responses include mild diarrhoea due to high fatty acids content. However, it is not advisable to eat hemp in a large amount as it increases the viscosity of blood and thus can increase the risk of Coronary Heart disease.

About the Author

Mehak holds masters in foods and nutrition from Amity university, Noida. She has a keen interest in public health and nutrition and has been in charge of various projects with milestone NGO. She has worked with people over the globe to bring out the changes in their lives and has always been working towards lifestyle modifications via good dietary practices. According to her a healthy lifestyle is not about the destination but all about the journey.

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