Monday, January 21, 2013

Pantry Staple - Hulled Hemp Seeds

(pictured:  flax oil, hemp seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds)

I always include foods that are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids into our meals whenever possible. It is common for us to add walnuts, ground flaxseeds, and chia seeds to our food.  However from both a flavor and texture perspective hulled hemp seeds are my favorite source of omega 3s.  I realize that hemp seeds aren’t as common as the others I listed and I think that is because of the “hemp” aspect. There are many misconceptions about hulled hemp seeds.  Let’s dispel some of those today.

What are hulled hemp seeds?

Hemp seeds and marijuana come from the same species of plant.  However they come from different varieties of the plant within the species. Hemp seeds do not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active substance in marijuana.   Therefore anyone who has to undergo random drug screens (medical personnel, military, law enforcement, etc.) can eat them without concern of failing a drug screen.

The seeds themselves are very small and have a creamy texture and nutty flavor that reminds me very much of pine nuts.  Being part Italian you know I love my pine nuts.  

(oatmeal with walnut butter, banana, chocolate chips and hemp seeds)

What are the health benefits of consuming hemp seeds?

Hemp seeds are one of the true super foods. They have a terrific omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio.  The average American consumes a diet heavier on omega 6 than omega 3 fatty acids which is inflammatory.  Adding additional anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids to your diet is always a good thing whether you are vegan or not. In fact it is probably more important if you aren’t vegan to get your ratio of omega 3 to 6 back into balance.

In addition to the wonderful fat in hemp it is also a good source of protein. Hemp is another plant food that is considered a complete protein (like quinoa and soy).  Just two tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 5 grams of protein.  Current science suggests that a 40g/10g ratio of carb to protein is the right balance for after a workout.  Four (4) tablespoons of hemp seeds would be 10 grams of protein and perfect in a post workout smoothie.

(fresh blackberries with hemp seeds)

Where do you buy hempseeds?

You can find hemp seeds at Amazon, Costco (some of them not all), Whole Foods, Wegman’s, and health food stores.  I haven’t needed to pick these up at Harris Teeter or Trader Joe’s but I assume they also carry them.  If you don’t live in a large metropolitan area Amazon is your best bet. They carry quite a few brands and the prices are good.

What is the best way to store hemp seeds?

Omega 3 fatty acids are relatively unstable.  This is the reason that flaxseed oil is always sold in dark bottles under refrigeration.  I store my hemp seeds in the freezer for the longest possible shelf life.  However keeping them in the refrigerator is also fine.  If you plan to use them up quickly they will probably be fine in the pantry.

(mixed berry smoothie made with hemp seeds)

What can you do with them?

Hemp seeds have the most wonderful rich and creamy texture.  I also love their mild flavor which tastes like pine nuts to me. 

Here are my favorite uses from hemp seeds:
  • Use them to top oatmeal (or any other breakfast cereal)
  • Sprinkle them on salads.  If you combine hemp seeds and nutritional yeast you get a “cheesy” topping that is high in omega 3s. If you don’t feel like mixing it together add them separately to your salad which is what I do.
  • Use them to top fresh fruit.
  • They are great added to smoothies either in place of flax, chia or walnuts.
  • I use them on vegetable dishes (hot or cold) to help our bodies absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in the veggies.

(green salad with artichokes and hemp seeds)

Here is the bottom line as far as I am concerned.  We all get enough omega 6 fatty acids, and probably too many.  To bring the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids into line we should be consuming some combination of: hemp, chia and flax seeds as well as eating more walnuts versus other tree nuts. If we do this it will go a long way to moving us into an anti-inflammatory state.

Happy thoughts:
  1. Sunday was a good day at my house.  I got a few things crossed off my to-do list which is always great. Plus I made a pot of soup in the pressure cooker for early in the week.
  2. The weather on Sunday was amazing. We actually reached 59 degrees which well above normal for this time of year. In addition to warm temperatures we also had winds of 17mph.  If Dan hadn’t been at the office it would have been a great day to get in a little sailing.
  3. Speaking of Dan I am very happy to report that he is feeling much better now. Saturday he felt good enough to do a little plumbing at home.   Then on Sunday he went into the office for about 5 hours while it was quiet.  While I hated that he had that much work to do I was thrilled that he felt up to going to the office and doing stuff around the house.
  4. It is time for me to buy smaller jeans.  *happy dance*  I am thrilled to be down a jeans size in case you missed that.  ;-)  I have been exercising harder and have both lost fat and gained muscle in the last two weeks.  Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? *woot woot*
  5. Let’s hear a woo hoo for those Baltimore Ravens. Typically I am a fan of the Chicago Bears but the Ravens were impressive Sunday night in the playoffs.  They definitely deserved to win the game against the Patriots.

Signing out:

`Here is hoping that next week is better than the last couple of weeks have been here.  I have a few things planned this week which should be fun. 

I hope that you had a fantastic weekend and that your week is great.  Talk with you again tomorrow. Arrivederci.


  1. Thanks for this post. I've been hearing about hemp seeds and have been curious. I had actually tried to read about them to see if they would be an issue for random drug testing, which I have to do, and I found a wide variety of answers -- everything from definitely 'no' to definitely 'yes' (and quoting military regulations). What you said makes perfect sense to me...but I still may hold off, since I'm within a year of retirement :->.

    1. Hello Statch,

      Hemp seeds are delicious if you like pine nuts. I understand you wanting to be cautious as that is my approach to things are well. I have both military and medical friends who haven't any problems failing drug screens, just FYI. Do stay away from poppy seeds though, they show up like cocaine on drug screens.

      Woot woot for retirement in under a year. That is awesome! :-) Congratulations!

      Hope you are having a great Monday so far,

  2. I'm a fan of Hemp Seeds/Hearts as well! Nice post!


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