What Are Hemp Seeds and Will They Get You High?

What is hemp seed? Is it….legal? We busted out our magic eye posters (just in case) and did the research. 

When I was in high school in Pennsylvania, marijuana was completely illegal. So, getting a hold of a dime bag and smoking under a park bridge was a bit of a thrill. Inevitably, one of my stoned friends would turn philosopher, pontificating about the many uses of the hemp plant and why it shouldn’t be illegal. “You know, people have used hemp to make rope for millennia.” For the thousandth time, we get it, Jason. 

I wonder if now, 20-plus years later, Jason is looking at hemp seeds in the grocery store and saying, “I told those guys! Hemp is a multifaceted crop!” But what are hemp seeds and how should we (and Jason) be using them? Read on for all your hemp seed questions, answered. 

What are hemp seeds?

Hemp seeds come from the hemp plant, scientific name Cannabis sativa. This is the same plant from which we get marijuana; the flowers or “buds” of the plant are the parts that contain THC. However, there are major differences when it comes to cultivation. 

When the cannabis plant is cultivated for hemp usage it has extremely low or almost nonexistent THC levels. This is where the culinary hemp seed comes from. By contrast, when the cannabis plant is cultivated for its psychoactive properties, the THC levels are much higher. 

Bottom line: Hemp seeds will not get you high, so don’t worry about consuming them. In fact, there are a lot of reasons why you might want to include them in your diet: They are high in plant proteins, fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A and E.

What do hemp seeds taste like?

Unprocessed hemp seeds are mild and nutty. They are most often compared to sunflower seeds or pine nuts. Also, because of their small size (think: quinoa grain), they bring a texture that is not unlike that of poppy seeds or sesame seeds.

How do you eat hemp seeds?

Hemp seeds have a hard, brown outer shell and a yellow-green inside. But most of the time they are sold hulled, meaning without the shell (you might see them sold as “hemp hearts”). These have a wide variety of uses but work wonderfully as a topping for yogurt, acai bowl, or salad. They are also a great addition to seeded bread and you can even make pesto out of them. There’s plenty of ways to use hemp seeds, and you don’t have to be wearing tie-dye to enjoy them.

About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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