Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

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Getting to the heart of hemp seeds

I recently received a request to write a post on hemp seed nutrition. Not knowing much about hemp seeds myself I’ve had to do a little bit of research. Hemp seeds, or hemp hearts, contain about 170 calories per 3 tablespoons. That same serving contains 13 grams of fat (1.5 g saturated, 8 g omega-6, and 2.5 g omega-3, 1.5 monounsaturated), 3 g fibre, 10 g of protein, and 30% of your daily iron requirement.

As we tend to consume plenty of omega-6 fatty acids in our Western diets but not enough omega-3s, I’m not entirely convinced that hemp seeds are the way to go if you’re looking for a vegan source of omega-3s. It seems that hemp seeds contain more SDA (an omega-3 fatty acid) but less ALA (an omega-3 fatty acid that we convert a percentage of into the essential omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA). I tried to find  a good study to support (or refute) the ingestion of SDAs. However, the only studies I could find were very small and were supported by Monsanto thus rendering them unworthy of mention here. I found a few comparisons of hemp seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds but they were all posted by a producer of one of those products. Again, rendering them unworthy of mention here.

With very little decent research on hemp seeds and nutrition I think that the best we can go by is the nutrition facts panel in combination with our personal preferences and budgets. There is certainly nothing in the nutrient panel that would suggest not consuming hemp seeds. Indeed, the protein, fibre, and iron content are all pretty good even if we’re not sure of their provision of omega-3s. However, at $8.99 for a 227 gram bag they’re not exactly cheap. Also, it’s my understanding that they’re not to everyone’s taste. While there’s nothing wrong with consuming hemp seeds, there’s also not enough evidence to support my advising anyone to consume them.