Hemp seeds resemble sesame seeds in appearance but have a nuttier flavor and a higher omega-3 fatty acid content. The seeds, when combined with other plant proteins, offer vegetarians and non-vegetarians a high-quality protein source to support good health. Find shelled hemp seeds in health food stores, usually in a refrigerated case since they are susceptible to rancidity.
Amount of Protein
Whole, hulled hemp seeds are about 33 percent protein and provide 11 g of protein per 3 tbsp. serving, or 30 g. The protein content of hemp seeds is higher than that of other nutritious seeds. Chia seeds contain about 4 g of protein per 30 g. Sesame seeds offer 5 g and pumpkin seeds offer 10 g.
Proteins consist of amino acids. Protein sources that provide all nine amino acids that the body cannot make on its own are called complete proteins. Most complete proteins come from animal foods – eggs, meat, fish and dairy. Hemp is not a complete protein, but when you combine it with other complementary proteins, including nuts, lentils, dried beans and grains, it can help you get all of these essential amino acids. In fact, the amino acid ratio of hemp seeds is closer to complete sources than many other vegetarian proteins.
Including hemp seeds provides you benefits in addition to its highly digestible protein. The seeds contain fiber to help with healthy digestion. They also provide heart-healthy fats in the form of omega-3 fatty acids to support brain development and heart health. The seeds provide essential minerals, particularly iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. Hemp seeds also offer vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help your body rid itself of disease-causing free radicals.
The high oil content causes hemp seeds to burn easily, so toast them carefully. Use them as a cold garnish on salads, soups, cereals or chili. You can blend them into pancake batter or use them as a substitute for nuts in pesto. Puree hemp seeds into smoothies or salad dressing. Add them to granola or even sprinkle them over ice cream.