A dietitian on why hemp seeds are worth the health hype

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hemp seeds

These little seeds pack a nutritional punch. 

In 2017, hemp seeds were legalised in the food supply Australia – so chances are by now, you’ve seen them on supermarket shelves, either on their own or added to products like muesli bars, cereals and even yoghurts.

If you’re still a little wary of adding hemp to your pantry, however, here’s what you need to know to put your mind to ease. Spoiler alert: hemp seeds are actually *very* good for you.

What is hemp?

Hemp seeds have the THC removed. Image: iStock
Hemp seeds have the THC removed. Image: iStockSource:BodyAndSoul
Here’s a fun fact for your next game of trivia: THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol. That’s the psychoactive component found in marijuana. The hemp that is allowed in the food supply is called ‘low-THC hemp’.

It contains next to none of the compound that’ll make you high – so you’ve got no need to worry about eating hemp seeds.

Now, onto the nutrition side of things. Hemp seeds provide a raft of good-for-you nutrients. Just like other seeds, hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats to support a healthy heart and brain. In fact, they contain a special type of fat called omega-3s which are anti-inflammatory and especially beneficial for your heart.

Sitting at around 30 per cent protein, hemp seeds provide more plant-based protein than most other seeds. Plus, they’re jam-packed with gut-loving fibre, with around 10 grams of fibre per 100 grams of seeds.

And that’s not all – hemp seeds also contain iron for oxygen transport, potassium for muscle function, magnesium for bone health, Vitamin E for a healthy heart and energising b-group vitamins. They sound like a whole food multivitamin, right?!

How can you use hemp seeds?

Add them to smoothies and on top of your fave dishes. Image: iStock

Add them to smoothies and on top of your fave dishes. Image: iStockSource:BodyAndSoul

Now you know what all the hype is about when it comes to hemp seeds, you might be wondering about the best way to include them in your diet. You’ll find stacks of products in the supermarket that contain hemp, from plant-based milks and pouches of soup to chips and breakfast spreads. There’s even hemp protein powders!

Instead of fancy hemp products, however, I’d recommended buying whole hemp seeds and using them in the same way you would any other seed. Think: add them to a smoothie, sprinkle them over your morning muesli or toss them through a salad for some crunch.

You could also buy hemp seed oil and use it in salad dressings, or try hemp flour for a nutritious spin on your healthier homemade loaves and muffins.

Should you be eating hemp?

Full of omega-3's! Image: iStock
Full of omega-3's! Image: iStockSource:BodyAndSoul
Y-E-S! Hemp seeds might be tiny, but they’re big on nutrition – and I think are well deserving of a place in your pantry.

In saying that, hemp seeds are not a magical elixir, so add them to your seed repertoire for some variety, but don’t put them up on a pedestal as the one and only ‘superfood’.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.

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