As we explore mental health awareness during this month of May, today I want to highlight a food item worth integrating into your diet if you aren’t already. Hemp seeds, or more specifically and often used interchangeably, hemp hearts, are the soft inner part of hemp seeds after the outer shell has been removed. The tiny cream and green-colored seeds are sometimes referred to as shelled or hulled hemp seeds.
Hemp seeds are a nutritional powerhouse with a mild, nutty flavor that can be eaten raw or roasted. Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat and are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids: linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). So why harp on their fat profile? Studies suggest that high doses of omega-3, ranging from 200–2,200 mg per day, can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 3,000 mg of ALA omega-3 fatty acids, or 162–236% of the daily recommended intake. A serving of hemp seeds, or 3 tablespoons, has almost 15 grams of fat, of which 1.4 grams are saturated, 1.6 grams are monounsaturated, and 11.4 grams are polyunsaturated, and they contain around 160 calories.
As a Registered Dietitian, I preach the importance of getting your nutrients from food and beverage where possible, rather than relying on supplements. By doing this, you’ll get the benefit of the nutrient-dense food and not have to worry that your supplement isn’t FDA regulated. (For example, hemp seeds are also a great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc, and are also a plant source of complete protein, which is especially important for vegetarians.)
I love their versatility and ease of use, as cooking or consuming fatty fish 3 times a week can be a roadblock for many trying to make their Omega 3 intake goal. Hemp seeds may interact with certain medications including anticoagulants, so speak to your doctor before eating hemp seeds regularly if you take an anticoagulant. I would also recommend adding them gradually to your diet to see how you tolerate the increase in fiber, starting with sprinkling 1-2 TBSP in items like oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, yogurt, or atop a salad.
While changes in your diet alone may not be a cure for all individuals experiencing depression or anxiety, nourishing your body with health-promoting foods is always a good idea for your physical and mental health.
Click HERE to learn more about the Wellview services available to you. We can’t wait to work with you!
– Keeley Mezzancello, MS, RD, LDN, CHWC
Health Advisor, Registered Dietitian | Email Keeley