If you've hesitated to add hemp seeds to your shopping cart, you've probably wondered something like this: Are hemp seeds worth the price? What will I eat them with? And will I, uh, become impaired if I eat too many? If you're at all skeptical of hemp seeds, this one's for you.
These seeds come from the hemp plant. Hemp plants and marijuana plants hail from the same species, Cannabis sativa L. Hemp seeds, however, won't get you high. And you won't fail a drug test after eating them.
What is hemp seed?
Hemp seeds (aka hemp hearts) have become a popular health food for their protein, fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and other nutrients.
It's true that hemp plants contain low levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. But we're talking just 0.03 percent. In fact, in 2018, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) ruled that hemp doesn't fit the definition of marijuana. Not to mention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates hemp products. So, yes, hemp seeds are totally legal and safe to eat.
Hemp seeds taste similar to sunflower seeds, somewhat like pine nuts, and a little like walnuts, too.
Hemp appears to have originated in Central Asia and then spread throughout the world as people moved from one place to another. There are more hemp varieties in China than there are anywhere else. According to Chinese texts from the Sung Dynasty, the Chinese people were first ordered to grow hemp for fiber in 2800 BCE by Emperor Shen Nung. During this period, people in Northern India were cultivating hemp plants mainly for fiber; however, legends also state that Buddha survived on one hemp seed each day on his path to enlightenment.
The flavor of hemp seeds has been likened to that of pine nuts and sunflower seeds. They have a savory and nutty flavor.
Hemp seeds flavor profile
Hemp was cultivated in the 16th century wherever explorers in the New World landed and would become one of the main crops in North America. George Washington grew hemp himself and ordered farmers to grow it. So ubiquitous was it that the Declaration of Independence was written on paper made from hemp and the first pair of Levi Jeans was made from hemp fabric.
In recent years, hemp seeds and other hemp products have been making their way onto store shelves, despite the stigma of being associated with marijuana.
In 100 AD, Dioscorides would name hemp Cannabis sativa and documented a variety of medicinal uses for it. At around this time, the Japanese in this time period were using hemp seeds for food and the plant’s fibers for clothing. In Japan, hemp is known as asa and it is believed to have been introduced there by Chinese merchants.