Hemp Seeds Join the Super-Food Cool-Kids Table

bhofack2/ iStock / Getty Images Plus
bhofack2/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

Although hemp seeds come from the Cannabis plant family (yes, that Cannabis plant), the seeds from the industrial hemp plant do not contain THC, the active compound in marijuana that results in a “high” feeling. Each two-tablespoon serving of hemp seeds contains about 90 calories. Hemp seeds are a source of high-quality protein, providing 5 grams total protein per serving.

In addition, you also get 3 grams total carbohydrate with 2 grams from fiber.  Hemp seeds are a naturally sodium-free food. Each serving contains 6 grams of fat (1 gram saturated) with no cholesterol. Hemp seeds also are a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamin E and provide potassium and calcium.

How to Cook with Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds can be eaten raw or sprouted, ground into meal or made into milk or oil. Hemp seeds have a warm, nutty flavor that works well in savory and sweet dishes alike. You can sprinkle hulled hemp seeds over yogurt or oatmeal or try them baked into breads or stirred into soups and stews. Toss them in a salad or stir-fry. You can also substitute them for pine nuts in pesto. Hemp protein powder is great in smoothies or added to baked goods.

However, it has an earthy flavor and texture that may need to be balanced out depending on taste. Hemp milk may be used in place of cow’s milk for drinking or in recipes. Because hemp seed oil cannot be heated to high temperatures, it is best in salad dressings or drizzled over soup or vegetable dishes.

Using Hemp Seeds in Foodservice
Hemp seeds, protein powder, milk and oil all can be purchased in bulk. Because hemp seeds are sold raw, they need to be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Having adequate refrigerated space for storage after opening is important, as hemp products, with the exception of protein powder, need to be refrigerated after opening. Serve hemp seeds in hot cereal or cooked into breads, muffins, and other baked goods. They also can make a nice addition to salads and grain dishes. Swap hemp milk for dairy milk in recipes for a soy-free, nut-free dairy alternative.

Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and writer based in New York City.

Pumpkin Hemp Seed Bread

Recipe by Jodie Shield

1 2⁄3 cups white, whole-wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt, optional
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup hemp seed oil
½ cup water
½ cup hemp seeds, raw shelled
½ cup dried cranberries, optional
Nonstick vegetable spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt (if using), baking powder, nutmeg and cloves.
  3. In a medium-size bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, oil and water.
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in hemp seeds and cranberries (if using).
  5. Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray. Pour batter into greased pan.
  6. Bake at for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack.

Cooking Note

  • To dial down the nutty hemp flavor, use sunflower or canola oil in place of hemp seed oil.

Nutrition Information
Serves 18.
Serving size: One ½-inch slice

Calories: 208; Total fat: 9g; Saturated fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 21mg; Sodium: 92mg; Carbohydrates: 27g; Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 12g


Contributing Editor Jodie Shield, MEd, RDN, LDN, is based in Chicago. She is the author of HealthyEatingforFamilies.com.

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Jessica Cording
Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, INHC, is a registered dietitian, health coach and writer based in New York City. She works with individuals, corporations and the the media to help make healthy living approachable and enjoyable. She blogs at JessicaCordingNutrition.com and you can follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.