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What Are Hemp Hearts and What Do They Do?

Whether you enjoy a splash of dairy-free milk in your morning coffee, are partial to a plant-based protein smoothie, or like a sprinkling of seeds on top of your porridge or salad, there’s a whole host of ways you can incorporate hemp into your diet. But the most versatile of the bunch has to be hemp hearts.

If you’re a newbie to plant-based diets, or even if you’re not, you may have heard a lot of talk about hemp hearts , yet don’t actually know too much about them. Well, it’s time to get clued up as we delve into the facts surrounding these magical sources of nutritional goodness and teach you just how beneficial they are for your health and wellbeing.

What Are Hemp Hearts?

Similar to chia or flax seeds, hemp hearts are jam-packed with nutrients, so it’s no surprise they’ve become a popular pantry staple. But what exactly are hemp hearts and where do they come from?

Derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant, hemp hearts are simply the soft inner part of hemp seeds once they have been unshelled – their squishy centre, if you will. Despite sharing the same plant mother, hemp hearts don’t contain CBD or THC , therefore will not make you feel high, just in case you were worried.

So how can you incorporate hemp hearts into your diet?

While we could easily recommend shovelling down a handful of hemp hearts as a snack — you’ll love their nutty flavour and chewy texture — there are hundreds of other creative ways in which you can use them to boost your daily protein intake. From sprinkling on your breakfast cereal or yoghurt, to incorporating them into baked goods such as cookies, muffins, breads and other healthy snacks , dosing up on these little guys is one of many plant-based ways we can increase our protein intake .

Are Hemp Hearts and Hemp Seeds the same thing?

Hemp seeds are extracted from the Sativa plant and have a hard, nut-like exterior and a soft inside. Hemp hearts are the name commonly given to that seed’s soft inside.

While the terms are often used interchangeably, hemp seeds are rarely eaten due to their crunchy and hard shell which loves to get stuck in your teeth. Therefore to make products such as hemp protein , hemp milk and hemp oil , we deshell our hemp seeds and just use the hearts. However, the crunchy shell is a great source of fibre, and when ground down to a fine powder, works a treat in baking or used as a supplement in smoothies – meet our Hemp Seed Flour .

Benefits of Hemp Hearts

These hemp hearts may be small, but they really do pack a punch when it comes to their nutritional benefits. Just a few daily tablespoons of these superfood seeds can take care of everything from your heart health to upping your intake of muscle-building macronutrients. Basically, it’s a powerhouse in the seed world.

1. Natural Nutritional Supplements

We like to refer to hemp hearts as magic seeds, because they’ve seriously got our backs when it comes to health and wellness – plus we don’t have to wait in line at the prescription counter for them.

These little guys are loaded with protein (with three tablespoons racking up a mighty 9.5 grams – more than a single egg!), plus a healthy dose of fibre, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin B1 and beyond. So it’s sure to tick all your vitamin and mineral boxes.

2. Beneficial for Heart Disease

These aptly-named hemp hearts are actually extremely good for – you guessed it – your heart, thanks to their super high fatty acid content. Seafood usually comes up trumps as one of the best sources for omega-3 fatty acids, but our little hearts deserve a shoutout, too.

And why are omega-3 fatty acids so important for your heart health? Well, not only do they help reduce levels of triglycerides (a type of fat linked with increased risk of heart disease), they also reduce build-up in your arteries , lowering the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Not only that, but they help to lower blood pressure – so we’d say they’re pretty important!

In fact, did you know that just three tablespoons of hemp hearts provide more than double your daily recommended amount of alpha-linolenic acid ? This is the type of omega-3 that the body can’t produce on its own, and therefore has to source from your diet.

*frantically adds hemp hearts to basket*

3. Digestion Aids

In addition to a perfectly pumping heart, indulging in a handful of these superseeds every day can also help us maintain a healthy gut. You see, hemp hearts are also a good source of soluble and insoluble fibre, both of which provide the human body with valuable nutrients for your digestive bacteria. These help to reduce blood sugar spikes, regulate cholesterol levels and reduce any unwanted toxins in your gut. Have a high-fibre diet and everybody’s happy!

But that’s not all! Here are a few more benefits of bringing hemp heart into your diet that we haven’t even mentioned yet:

  • Improves immunity levels
  • Improves brain health
  • Combats menopause and PMS symptoms
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Balances hormones
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Supports stronger bones
  • Reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Improves skin conditions
  • Provides relief for rheumatoid arthritis

Now you know just how powerful these miniature plant-based gems are for your health, you’ll want to snap up a package or two of your own to try, right? Well you’re in luck! Whether you pop it in your handbag for an on-the-move protein hit or store it pride of place on your kitchen shelf, Good Hemp’s hemp seed heart pouches are perfect for all your sprinkling, stirring and baking needs.

What We Know About Marijuana

Marijuana, which can also be called cannabis, weed, pot, or dope, refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant contains more than 100 compounds (or cannabinoids). These compounds include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is impairing or mind-altering, as well as other active compounds, such as cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is not impairing, meaning it does not cause a “high”. 1

Marijuana can be used in a number of ways. 2,3 The most common ways include:
  • Smoked in joints (like a cigarette), in blunts (cigars or cigar wrappers that have been partly or completely refilled with marijuana), or in bongs (pipes or water pipes)
  • Vaped using electronic vaporizing devices (like vape pens) or other vaporizers
  • Mixed or infused into foods or drinks (called edibles) like cookies, cakes, or brownies, or tea, cola, or alcohol

Additionally, some people inhale the oil concentrates and other extracts from the cannabis plant—this is known as dabbing. THC oils and concentrates used in vaping and dabbing often involve using highly concentrated forms of THC and may contain additives or be contaminated with other substances that may be harmful. 4

How marijuana affects a person depends on several factors, including:
  • Amount of marijuana taken
  • Frequency of marijuana use
  • Use of marijuana with other substances (e.g., alcohol or other drugs), which could increase risk of harm 5
  • Mode of marijuana use (e.g., consuming edibles or products with high THC concentration can have delayed or unpredictable effects and increases the risk of overdose or poisoning 5 )
  • Previous experience with marijuana or other drugs
  • Biology (e.g., genes, DNA)
  • Sex (e.g., women may experience more dizziness after using marijuana compared to men 6 )

The Food and Drug Administration external icon (FDA) has approved one plant-based marijuana drug called Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of CBD. The prescription medication is approved for treating seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy (Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome) as well as seizures associated with a rare genetic disorder called tuberous sclerosis complex. The FDA has also approved two medicines (dronabinol [brand names: Marinol and Syndros] and nabilone [brand name: Cesamet]) that are made from a synthetic or lab-made chemical that mimics THC. These medicines are used to treat nausea in patients with cancer who are having chemotherapy treatment, and to increase appetite in individuals with AIDS who do not feel like eating (wasting syndrome). These approved products are only available with a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider. There are currently no other FDA-approved uses for cannabis or its derivatives.

Health Effects and Risks

There are health risks associated with using marijuana regardless of how it is used. These include:

Marijuana Use Disorder

Approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder. 7 Some signs and symptoms of marijuana use disorder include trying but failing to quit using marijuana or giving up important activities with friends and family in favor of using marijuana. 8 The risk of developing marijuana use disorder is stronger in people who start using marijuana during youth or adolescence and who use marijuana more frequently. 9

Brain Health

Marijuana use directly affects brain function—specifically the parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention, decision making, coordination, emotions, and reaction time. 5,10 Developing brains, such as those in babies, children, and teenagers, are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of marijuana and THC. 5,10

Heart Health

Marijuana can make the heart beat faster and can make blood pressure higher immediately after use. 11,12 It could also lead to increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and other vascular diseases. 13-17

Driving

Marijuana, like alcohol, negatively affects several skills required for safe driving. It can slow reaction time and ability to make decisions. 5,18

  • Marijuana can impair coordination and distort perception. 5,18
  • The use of multiple substances (such as marijuana and alcohol) at the same time can increase impairment. 19
  • Some studies have shown an association between marijuana use and car crashes; however, more research is needed. 5,19

Lung Health

Smoked marijuana, regardless of how it is smoked, can harm lung tissues and cause scarring and damage to small blood vessels. 20,21 While more research on the health consequences of breathing secondhand marijuana smoke is needed, there is concern that it could cause harmful health effects, including among children.

Mental Health

Marijuana use has been linked to social anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia (a type of mental illness where people might see or hear things that aren’t really there), but scientists don’t yet fully understand the relationships between these mental health disorders and marijuana use. 6,22

Unintentional Poisoning

Edibles, or food and drink products infused with marijuana, have some different risks than smoked marijuana, including a greater risk of poisoning. Children can mistake edibles for regular food or candy. Consuming marijuana can make children very sick. Since marijuana use has been legalized in some states, unintentional poisonings in children have increased, with some instances requiring emergency medical care. 23

If you use marijuana products, keep them in childproof containers and out of the reach of children. For additional questions, you can contact your healthcare provider, your health department, your local or regional poison control center at 1-800-222-1222, or 911 if it’s an emergency.

Cannabis compound benefits blood vessels

Low dose helps combat formation of arterial blockages.

A compound derived from the cannabis plant protects blood vessels from dangerous clogging, a study of mice has shown. The discovery could lead to new drugs to ward off heart disease and stroke.

The compound, called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), combats the blood-vessel disease atherosclerosis in mice. This disease occurs when damage to blood vessels, by nicotine from cigarettes, for example, causes an immune response that leads to the formation of fatty deposits in arteries.

These deposits form because the immune cells can linger too long, recruiting others and leading to an inflamed blockage that snares fatty molecules. The disease is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke in the developed world.

THC seems to tone down this immune response, report François Mach of the University Hospital Geneva, Switzerland and his colleagues. The compound binds to a protein called CB2 that is present on the surfaces of certain immune cells.

Block buster

Mach’s team administered tiny amounts of pure THC to mice. The treatment reduced the progression of blood-vessel blockage formation by more than one-third, the researchers report in this week’s Nature 1 .

Furthermore, feeding the mice a compound that interferes with binding to CB2 abolished the therapeutic effect of THC. This proves that the process involves the CB2 protein rather than a similar protein called CB1, which is found on cells in the brain and nervous system and is responsible for cannabis’s psychological effects.

“This paper has nothing to do with smoking marijuana. François Mach , University Hospital Geneva, Switzerland”

The benefits for atherosclerosis occurred only at a certain dosage, Mach adds. At higher and lower doses, THC has no therapeutic effect on blood vessels, he says. He notes the similarly moderated effects of alcohol on heart disease, adding that a single glass of Bordeaux may reduce risk while overindulgence can increase it.

The team also emphasises that the THC dose required to protect blood vessels is lower, relative to body weight, than that which would produce the mind-altering altering effects of cannabis in humans. “This paper has nothing to do with smoking marijuana,” Mach stresses.

“It does not mean that smoking cannabis is beneficial to the cardiovascular system, as cannabis smoke contains many toxins which may actually lead to cardiovascular diseases,” says Michael Randall of the University of Nottingham Medical School, UK, who has studied cardiovascular disease and cannabinoids.

“The body also produces its own cannabis-like chemicals and whether they may play a role in the above beneficial effects is unclear,” he adds.

Future drugs

THC could be deployed alongside currently used cholesterol-controlling drugs called statins to fight atherosclerosis, Mach suggests. “I don’t think this will replace statins. But we may add another compound that will fight against inflammation,” he explains.

Because THC might suppress the immune system in a general way, there is a danger that it may harm the body’s ability to fight infection. To avoid this, Mach says, it may be necessary to identify similar compounds that specifically target the CB2 protein.

Still, the discovery adds to the range of potential medicinal benefits of cannabis compounds. Besides its well-publicized use for pain relief, the drug is also given to anorexics to stimulate appetite, and cancer patients to combat the nauseating side-effects of chemotherapy.