In Mandy’s Pantry: Hemp Hearts

I just posted a recipe with hemp hearts for the first time so I thought I’d go into a bit more detail as to why hemp hearts are another staple in my pantry.

What are they?

Hemp hearts are actually shelled hemp seeds, and like you might have thought, come from the Cannabis genus of plants.   It’s quite funny to watch someone’s reaction when they first hear about a food with hemp in the name!  But, unlike marijuana, eating hemp hearts will not have any sort of effect on you – except for the incredible nutritional benefits, of course. 🙂

How healthy are they?

Hemp hearts are a good fat that are also high in plant based protein & fiber.  By good fat, I am referring to the Essential Fatty Acids, Omega 3 and 6.  While Omega 6 is necessary (hence the ‘essential’), in excess it is pro-inflammatory.  Omega 3, on the other hand, is anti-inflammatory.  It’s believed that our ancestors evolved on a diet with a ratio of about 1:1 Omega 6 to 3.  The Standard American Diet (which is really North American) is more along the lines of 15:1 or 20:1 Omega 6 to 3 ratio*, and the Omega 6 that we’re getting has typically been processed and/or heated, so isn’t even good quality.  It’s no wonder inflammation is such a problem in our society.

What’s so great about hemp hearts is that their fat is made up of 78% EFAs, and within that, they have a pretty ideal ratio of Omega 6:3 at about 2:1.

Check out the nutritional information below from Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts.  From a protein perspective, 3 TBSP has 10g of protein, so they’re going to keep you full.  They’re also considered to be very easy on the digestive tract for anyone with irritable digestion.

Where can I buy them?

This, like some of my pantry items are not always in all the grocery stores.  But, hemp hearts are definitely at Loblaws in the health food section, or at any local health food store. I buy any brand that is organic and raw, such as Manitoba Harvest, or Ruth’s Hemp Foods.

Other ways to use them…

  • Sprinkle on top of a salad for a nutty flavour and some extra protein
  • Add to a morning smoothie
  • Add to morning granola

*Source:  (Uauy-Dagach, Ricardo and Valenzuela, Alfonso. Marine oils: the health benefits of n-3 fatty acids. Nutrition Reviews, Vol. 54, November 1996, pp. S102-S108)

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