The market for all things “hemp” or Cannabis sativa has boomed over the past couple of years. Hemp seeds are one such hemp product we see on shelves everywhere. They have a pleasantly nutty taste and creamy texture when cooked. They’re also considered a superfood because they’re rich in essential nutrients, including protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
On the keto diet, hemp seeds can provide healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, they’re a popular oats substitute on low-carb diets due to their tendency to become creamy when cooked or soaked.
Here’s more on the benefits of including keto hemp meals in your weekly plan.
What Are Hemp Seeds?
Hemp seeds are the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. They are commercially used to make hemp seed oil and for direct consumption. Despite what some may believe, hemp seeds do not contain psychoactive substances like THC like some other parts of the hemp plant.
Hemp seeds are sold whole with their dark brown husk or shelled. The latter, also known as hemp hearts, is the most popular type used to make energy balls, cookies, and an oatmeal substitute.
Hemp hearts are dark yellow to light green in color with a distinct nutty taste that’s somewhat like a cross between walnuts and pine nuts. They are crunchy when raw but chewy and creamy when cooked. Their only downside is that they’re expensive compared to other edible seeds, like sunflower, chia, or flax seeds. They can cost around $10 per pound.
Are Hemp Seeds Keto?
The fat in hemp hearts is high-quality. It is mainly composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), with 60% omega-6 fatty acids and 18% omega-3s . In addition, these tiny seeds are also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). PUFAs are the only two essential fats we need to obtain from food, while MUFAs are known for their protective role in heart health.
As far as the protein in hemp seeds goes, they contain all 9 essential amino acids in varying degrees. In addition, removing the hull increases the seed’s protein digestibility, which is greater than that of grains, nuts, and even legumes . Besides providing all the right macros, hemp hearts are rich in some vitamins and many minerals, notably vitamin E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese.
Benefits of Hemp Seeds on the Keto Diet
Hemp seeds are low-carb and nutritious, which can be reason enough to enjoy in your low-carb lifestyle. But they are expensive compared to most other seeds. To help you decide if the splurge is actually worth it, here are the benefits of keto hemp meals:
Keto dieters, like everyone else, need to have a balanced and varied diet to stay healthy. One way to do so is by including nutrient-dense foods like hemp seeds into your weekly meal plan. Hemp seeds provide high amounts of essential amino acids, minerals, and fats in a small serving.
Not all seeds have the versatility of hemp hearts. Their unique tendency to become chewy and soft when cooked makes them an excellent add-in for a range of savory and sweet meals. A versatile ingredient is always welcomed on regimented diets like keto.
Hemp seeds have balanced macros, essential minerals, and a range of beneficial compounds like sterols and bioactive peptides, all of which exert numerous health benefits . Researchers believe hemp seeds may be beneficial for metabolic, cardiovascular, and cell health.
It’s easier to stick to any diet when it’s enjoyable. Hemp hearts are pleasantly nutty with a chewy yet creamy texture. It’s easy to make tasty meals with this ingredient and enjoy your dieting attempts along the way.
How to Use Hemp Seeds
Most hemp seeds in stores are sold shelled and ready for consumption. If you like what these tiny but mighty seeds have to offer but don’t know how to use them, here are a couple of keto hemp ideas to get you started:
Sprinkled over meals
You can eat raw hemp seeds sprinkled over smoothies, yogurt, or salads. You can also sprinkle them over keto bread or muffins before baking.
In muffins or cookies
Add a handful or more hemp hearts to muffins or cookies for extra protein and flavor. Here, they work well as an allergy-friendly substitute for nuts.
In keto granola
Hemp hearts are a popular ingredient in keto granola. However, you can make your own at home by combining hemp seeds with ingredients like chia, pumpkin seeds, and butter in a food processor and baking until crispy.
In keto “oatmeal”
One of the more popular uses of hemp hearts on keto is in place of oats. Most keto hemp oatmeal recipes combine a couple of teaspoons of hemp hearts with flax meal or chia and other low-carb ingredients to create that thick and creamy texture of regular oatmeal.
Being low-carb but nutrient-rich and with a unique flavor and texture, hemp hearts are winning many keto eaters’ hearts (no pun intended). While pricier than most seeds, hemp hearts may be worth the extra costs, thanks to their quality protein and versatility.
Finding a low-carb ingredient that can replace grains on the keto diet is hard. Hemp hearts happen to be a rare gem used to make granola and oat alternatives that can make your mornings more manageable and more nutritious. But whether you find them worth the extra cash is up to you.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Seeds, hemp seed, hulled. April 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170148/nutrients
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- House JD, Neufeld J, Leson G. Evaluating the quality of protein from hemp seed (Cannabis sativa L.) products through the use of the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score method. J Agric Food Chem. 2010;58(22):11801-11807. doi:10.1021/jf102636b
- Farinon B, Molinari R, Costantini L, Merendino N. The seed of industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.): Nutritional Quality and Potential Functionality for Human Health and Nutrition. Nutrients. 2020;12(7):1935. Published 2020 Jun 29. doi:10.3390/nu12071935