If you haven’t brought hemp into your kitchen yet, it’s high time (no pun intended) you did. Hemp seeds, also commonly called hemp hearts, have an almost habit-forming nutty taste that can kick up any meal or snack. And they’re loaded with must-have nutrients that can take your health to the next level.

Once as hard to track down as a snow leopard, hemp-based foods have become increasingly popular and easier to find than ever. Here’s what they have to offer.

Fantastic Fats

Hemp seeds are fatty, but in a good way. Roughly 77 percent of their total fat is made up of polyunsaturated fats, specifically alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid). This “healthy” fat plays a major role in supporting heart health, immunity, and cognitive function.[1]

A recent study also found that substituting about 100 calories of unsaturated fats, like those found in hemp, for 100 calories of carbohydrates and saturated fat in a daily diet may help support blood-glucose control.[2]

Protein Power

Each 2-tablespoon serving of hemp seeds supplies 7 grams of protein—nearly twice the amount found in the same serving of flax and chia seeds! And hemp seeds are also considered a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids (although they contain very little lysine and are relatively low in leucine).

Beyond providing protein to build new muscle mass, hemp seeds contain lots of fiber, antioxidants, and minerals to support heart health.[3]

Hemp Seeds

Mineral Magic

Seeds are the beginnings of plants, so it makes sense they contain a wide range of nutrients necessary for growth, chief among them being iron, an essential mineral that helps transport oxygen throughout the body.

A 2-tablespoon serving of hemp seeds also provides almost half of the minimum daily requirement for magnesium. Surveys suggest that many people aren’t getting enough magnesium in their diets.[4,5] Hemp seeds provide a convenient, diet-based way for people to meet their daily magnesium requirement. The seeds are also a good source for dietary phosphorus and zinc.

Hemp-Seed Recipes

The easiest way to add hemp seeds to your diet is just to sprinkle them on your oatmeal, yogurt, and salads or blend them into protein shakes. If you’re a little more ambitious, try one of the following recipes.

Steak Sandwich With Hemp Pesto

Steak Sandwich

If you want to step up your pesto game, swap out those pricey pine nuts for hemp seeds to make a delicious, nutty spread to add to sandwiches. The pesto can be kept in the fridge for up to five days.


  • Arugula, 3 cups
  • Garlic, minced 2 cloves
  • Hemp seeds, 1/4 cup
  • Lemon juice, 1/2 lemon
  • Parmesan cheese, grated 1/3 cup
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup
  • Sirloin steak, 1 lb.
  • Red onion, thinly sliced 1 cup
  • Whole-grain bread, toasted 8 slices
  • Roasted red pepper, sliced 1 cup


  1. In a food processor, pulse together arugula, garlic, hemp seeds, and lemon juice until well combined. Add parmesan, then drizzle in oil through the top feed tube with the machine running.
  2. Heat one tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper, place in pan, and cook for about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until desired doneness. Let steak rest for 10 minutes, then thinly slice. Place red onion in a bowl of very cold water and let soak for at least 15 minutes. (This helps take some of the bite out of raw onion.)
  3. To assemble the sandwich, spread a portion of the hemp pesto on a slice of toasted bread, then top with slices of steak, roasted red pepper, and onion. Spread more pesto on another slice of toast and place on sandwich, pesto-side down.

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Nutrition Facts

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Recipe Yields 4 Servings
  • Calories 590
  • Fat 37 g
  • Carbohydrates 27 g (5 g fiber)
  • Protein 37 g

Hemp Crusted Salmon


Hemp and salmon team up to create a dish that contains a boatload of mega-healthy omega-3 fats and muscle-sculpting protein—just another example of how you can slip ultra-versatile hemp seeds into any meal for a nutritious boost.


  • Salmon fillets,  2 6-oz. fillets
  • Hemp seeds, 3 tbsp
  • Lemon zest, 2 tsp
  • Fresh thyme, 1 tsp
  • Lemon wedges
  • Olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place salmon on sheet skin-side down. Rub olive oil over each fillet, then season with salt and black pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together hemp seeds, lemon zest, and thyme. Cover the top of each fillet with the hemp-seed mixture, pressing down gently to help the mixture stick.
  3. Place salmon in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until salmon is just barely cooked through in the center. Serve with lemon wedges.

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Nutrition Facts

  • Serving Size: 1/2 of recipe
  • Recipe Yields 2 Servings
  • Calories 435
  • Fat 29 g
  • Carbohydrates 2 g (2 g fiber)
  • Protein 39 g

Greek Yogurt With Hemp Granola


Wake up your breakfast routine with this crunchy, creamy dish—also perfect for post-workout nourishment. Homemade granola usually has to be baked for a long time, but this stovetop hack cuts down the time to almost nothing.


  • Coconut oil, 1 tbsp
  • Maple syrup, 1 tbsp
  • Rolled oats, 1/2 cup
  • Hemp seeds, 1/4 cup
  • Unsalted almonds, sliced 1/4 cup
  • Dried cherries or cranberries, 1/4 cup
  • Cinnamon, 1 tsp
  • Plain Greek yogurt, 3 cups


  1. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat until melted; stir in maple syrup.
  2. Add rolled oats, hemp seeds, almonds, dried fruit, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt to the skillet. Stirring frequently, cook the mixture over medium heat until oats are toasted (about 5 minutes). Spread mixture on a cutting board to cool.
  3. To serve, spoon yogurt into a bowl and top with granola.

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Nutrition Facts

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Recipe Yields 4 Servings
  • Calories 266
  • Fat 11 g
  • Carbohydrates 22 g (3g fiber)
  • Protein 20 g


  1. Del Gobbo, L. C., Imamura, F., Aslibekyan, S., Marklund, M., Virtanen, J. K., Wennberg, M., ... & Fretts, A. M. (2016). Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Biomarkers and Coronary Heart Disease: Pooling Project of 19 Cohort Studies. JAMA Internal Medicine, 176(8), 1155-1166.
  2. Imamura, F., Micha, R., Wu, J. H., de Oliveira Otto, M. C., Otite, F. O., Abioye, A. I., & Mozaffarian, D. (2016). Effects of saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and carbohydrate on glucose-insulin homeostasis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled feeding trials. PLoS Med, 13(7), e1002087.
  3. Song, M., Fung, T. T., Hu, F. B., Willett, W. C., Longo, V. D., Chan, A. T., & Giovannucci, E. L. (2016). Association of animal and plant protein intake with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine, 176(10), 1453-1463.
  4. Sarrafzadegan, N., Khosravi-Boroujeni, H., Lotfizadeh, M., Pourmogaddas, A., & Salehi-Abargouei, A. (2016). Magnesium status and the metabolic syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition, 32(4), 409-417.
  5. Fulgoni, V. L., Keast, D. R., Bailey, R. L., & Dwyer, J. (2011). Foods, Fortificants, and Supplements: Where Do Americans Get Their Nutrients? Journal of Nutrition, 141(10), 1847-1854.

About the Author

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MSc., is a registered dietitian based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He works full-time as a freelance nutrition writer...

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