The Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds (Plus a Raw Eating Recipe)

Hemp Seed Smoothie

Technically, hemp “seeds” are really not seeds at all, they are actually a fruit. Tiny and round, sort of like itty bitty sunflower seeds, they have a pleasing, mild and slightly nutty flavor. Unlike sunflower seeds they aren’t crunchy but instead are a bit more like sesame seeds, but even softer in texture. Hemp seeds sort of taste like pine nuts, but have an even mellower, milder flavor.

In the last year or so I added hemp seeds to my “must eat” list of foods. I’ll admit, the list of healthy things I keep adding to my daily “must eat” list is getting a bit out of hand—between the vegetables, flaxseeds, raw fruit smoothies, fermented foods, etc. my stomach barely has room to fit it all in. Still, now that I know the health benefits of hemp seeds I’m finding creative ways to get my daily hemp fix too. I think of hemp seeds almost as a “superfood” because they have a tremendous nutritional profile. Here’s short and sweet version…

Eat Clean Healthy Hemp Seed Cliff Notes

1. Hemp seeds are an incredible vegan source of biologically available and easily digested protein. For those who are allergic to soy, hemp seeds are a great vegan alternative. Hemp seeds contain all 10 essential amino acids. And did you know 3 Tablespoons of Hemp Seeds = 11 grams of protein?

2. Hemp seeds contain a healthy anti-inflammatory 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fat. In addition, hemp seeds contain an especially beneficial type of omega-6 fat called GLA (gamma linolenic acid). GLA is a direct building block of good anti-inflammatory hormones. Unfortunately, this special omega-6 fat is not typically found in foods (in fact I think hemp seeds are the only edible food source of GLA.) While it’s true your body can convert the typical food version of unprocessed omega-6 called linoleic acid (LA) into the “useable” GLA form your body needs, the conversion process can be thwarted by many internal and external factors. For example, with the passing of birthdays, the less efficient the enzymes your body uses to convert LA into GLA become. Chronic health conditions such as diabetes, infections, and even stress can reduce your body’s ability to convert dietary LA into GLA. This is a bad deal because GLA is very important for achieving optimal health. But simply by incorporating hemp seeds into your diet on a regular basis you can be sure of getting a healthy dose of GLA. Here’s a short run down of the health benefits of GLA:

  • GLA supports a healthy metabolism and facilitates fat burning (some people who struggle with weight loss despite eating a healthy diet get a weight loss boost simply by adding GLA to their diets.)
  • GLA can help reduce hormone-mediated nuisance symptoms (bye-bye PMS!)
  • GLA supports healthy hair, nail and skin health.
  • GLA decreases the tendency of inflammation in general. This can be helpful to anyone with an inflammatory condition such as asthma, MS, fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc
  • GLA helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and improve cholesterol ratio

NOTE: GLA can also be obtained from supplements such as Borage Seed Oil and Evening Primrose Oil. I prefer Evening Primrose Oil to all other GLA-rich supplement oils because Evening Primrose Oil has the most research behind it. I’ve actually been taking it for years (1,300 mg of Barlean’s Evening Primrose Oil each day).

3. Hemp seeds are rich in disease-fighting, plant-based phytonutrients and anti-aging antioxidants such as vitamin E.

4. Hemp provides a rich array of minerals including zinc, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and iron.

How Do You Eat Hemp Seeds?

Lately I’ve been getting very creative with hemp seeds (it’s the key ingredient in my creamy Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing Recipe.) Because hemp seeds have such a mild unobtrusive flavor, they keep a low profile and can easily hide out in a wide number of dishes. Smoothies seem to be one of the easiest ways to sneak hemp into my own diet. I’ve also found I can sneak hemp seeds into vegetarian chili, oatmeal, and even pureed bean & vegetable soups. Probably the easiest way to eat them is to just sprinkle them right on top of my salad.

But, if you are as into smoothies as I am, you’ll love this quickie vegan food recipe for a hemp seed smoothie. Note: to make it a raw recipe just use raw almonds instead of the almond milk.

Hemp Can Add Creamy Richness to Vegan & Raw Eating Recipes…Especially Smoothies!

Orange-Banana Hemp Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana, chopped
  • 1 whole orange, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons hemp seeds (such as Organic Nutiva brand)
  • 2 ice cubes
  • If you want a totally raw recipe use 5 raw almonds otherwise you can use 3/4 cup almond milk
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Dash of pure almond extract

1. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Drink at once!


Where Can You Buy Hemp Seeds?

Any well-stocked natural foods store will carry hemp seeds; you can often buy them in bulk. You can even order hemp seeds online. Nutiva sells 8 ounces of organic shelled hemp seeds for $9.99. They are as easy to buy as they are to eat!



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  1. Today, I went to the beach front with my children.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear
    and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside
    and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

  2. i am a buddhist, i am a Vegetarian, i am a manager of a world tade company, i am dealing with hemp seed dehulling macine, i am locatedin China. Hope we can be friend and share the happyness the free mind bring us. thank you
    ! Gary

  3. Great post! We will be linking to this great content on our website.
    Keep up the good writing.

  4. I discovered hemp seeds by a company called Gerbs. They make a roasted version with sea salt. Does this reduce the nutritional value? They are so crunchy and yummy, I eat them plain. I’d hate to find out that I made a mistake by buying those instead of the raw.

  5. oh Wow! What a great idea for a hemp cookbook Eric! I will be sure to check it out. Thanks so much for letting us know.—ivy

  6. Hemp seed really is wonderful stuff. We’ve been eating it for years. We have a bunch of recipes we love to share and put them together on a website where everything is free.

    Check out our recipes at and give them a try!


  7. I have just recentlystarted eating hemp seeds, and am amazed at the delicious unique flavor! I have Lupus, RA, and ostearthiritis, and have noticed a small reduction in my joint pain just this week and didn’t know why. I have only been eating them for about 2 1/2 weeks.All I can attribute this to are the hemp seeds, as I have done nothing differant. Had taken an Omega product, which did help, but were NOT in my budget. will continue with the hemp seeds and see if I continue to improve.

  8. My husband has recently been diagnosed with Lung Cancer, if you have a look at the small video of Dr Leonard Coldwell on Google, he says Hemp Seeds can cure Cancer. I have started to add these to my husbands food. I also like to add them to a Fruit Yogurt, they are delicious.

  9. Awesome! I’ve been searching for this information , thanks for posting, fibromyalgia diet.

  10. I want to start eating hemp seeds but I have been told they make you high. Is that true?

  11. Hi Laura! You would decrease the enzyme content, but the overall nutritional profile would be the same if you heat the seeds. However, since the oil is very rich in delicate heat-unstable polyunsaturated fats I would NOT recommend cooking/ heating hemp oil. Hope this helps?

  12. Hi Laura,

    Enzymes will be altered by cooking but as far as I’m aware the rest of the nutrients will stay in-tact. Hope this helps?

  13. Do you know if the nutrients in the hemp seed is altered by cooking?

  14. YUMMY!!! thank you so much Pam! This looks to die for delish =)

  15. Hi Ivy — I have a fabulous recipe for you to try. It’s just amazing.

    Cherry Chocolate Bomb Shake
    Recipe by Kristen Suzanne of
    Yield 3 cups

    1 cup filtered water
    1 frozen banana, chopped
    1 cup frozen cherries
    1/4 cup hemp protein powder
    2 tablespoons hemp seeds
    2 tablespoons raw chocolate powder
    splash vanilla extract

    Blend this goodness up, and enjoy it as it helps make your day one of the best days ever!



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