Hemp Hearts—What can they do for your health?

By Melena Gurganus
K8, Unsplash

Much like chia seed or flaxseed, hemp hearts come from the seeds of hemp plants and are a great source of nutrients that promote a healthy heart, mind, and body. These seeds have many potential wellness advantages and are easily incorporated into regular meals and recipes. Often considered to be a superfood, hemp seeds, oils, and hemp protein powders are continuing to grow in popularity, so we thought it might be useful to outline the most common health benefits and uses associated with hemp hearts.

What is the difference between hemp seeds and hemp hearts?

Sometimes referred to as hulled or shelled hemp seeds, hemp hearts are seeds that have had their outer shell (or hull) removed. This is the primary difference between hemp hearts and whole hemp seeds, which still have their shell in tact.

Hemp seeds tend to be much crunchier than hemp hearts, and their shells contain a lot of valuable fiber that can be beneficial for your overall health. However, even without the outer shell, hemp hearts are a good source of fiber and other additionally beneficial plant based proteins.

Health Benefits of Hemp Hearts

There are several health advantages associated with hemp hearts attributed to their unique blend of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids that support several bodily functions.

Immune System

The various omega fatty acids in hemp seeds have a wide reaching range of health advantages, including their ability to aid in autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Hemp hearts also contain decent levels of Zinc—a mineral that promotes healthy immune system functioning.

Heart Health

In addition to the presence of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that may improve heart health, hemp seeds also contain high levels of arginine. This essential amino acid turns into nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and helps lower blood pressure. Because of this, hemp hearts are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, especially when paired with a healthy diet and regular exercise.


The omega-6 fatty acids in hemp seeds allow the body to absorb gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) that works to neutralize and reverse inflammation in the body. Inflammation plays a key role in many chronic diseases, including arthritis, IBS, asthma and alzheimer’s. Incorporating the right amount of GLA into your diet can offer anti-inflammatory advantages that benefit your health in the long term.


While hemp hearts contain less fiber than their unshelled counter parts, they can still be of use when incorporating more fiber into your diet. Fiber is essential to your digestive health as it helps regulate bowel movements and lower cholesterol, but we do recommend opting for unhulled hemp seeds if you’re looking to see greater digestion benefits since they contain higher levels of insoluble and soluble fiber.

How to Eat Hemp Hearts

The consistency and flavor of hemp seeds make them perfect for mixing into everyday items like salad dressings, smoothies, and yogurt. Hemp hearts are much softer than unhulled hemp seeds and can be used as breadcrumbs for those with gluten allergies, and their subtle nutty taste also makes them a good substitute for people with nut allergies. Additionally, hemp hearts offer several grams of protein and are perfect for vegan or vegetarian eaters who may have difficulty obtaining these valuable nutrients from natural sources.


Are hemp hearts good for weight loss?

It’s often believed that hemp seeds can aid in weight loss by making you feel more full (even if you’re ingested less calories) thanks to omega-3 essential fatty acids. Improved digestive functioning provided by the rich fiber in whole hemp seeds can also be a catalyst for healthy weight loss.

Can hemp seeds make you fail a drug test?

Drug screenings are typically searching for the presence of THC, or the psychoactive chemical found in cannabis plants. While hemp hearts do come from a substrain of cannabis sativa, they contain only trace amounts of THC that is undetectable by drug tests.

Which is better: hemp hearts or whole hemp seeds?

The answer to this question really depends on your personal preference. If you want to add a lot of fiber in your diet, unshelled hemp seeds may be the better choice. But if you aren’t too fond of crunchy seeds and want something that’s easier to add into everyday recipes, hemp hearts are likely the better option for those needs.

What is hemp seed oil?

Hemp seed oil is made by cold-pressing hemp seeds to obtain a nutrient-rich liquid. Hemp seed oil is not the same as CBD oil, and has many of the same health benefits that hemp hearts do.

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