The Whole Hemp Plant: What Can You Eat?

Hemp is a versatile plant with many uses. Learn about what parts of the plant you can eat safely and how to get the most nutritional value from them.

The Whole Hemp Plant: What Can You Eat?

Hemp is a versatile plant with a variety of uses. The seeds can be eaten whole, with the shell on, and they add a crunchy touch to recipes such as vegan flapjack. You can also separate the seed from the shell and grind the shell into a fiber-rich powder that can be used in food. Eating hemp seeds is generally considered safe, although due to their high fat content, they may cause mild diarrhea.

In addition to the seeds, you can also use the whole hemp plant, including fiber from its stems, protein from its seeds, and oils and smokable portions of leaves and flowers. Smokable hemp is a new addition to the CBD industry, as the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant are rich in non-psychoactive cannabidiol, a compound with many therapeutic properties. When buying hemp seeds, look for an opaque package that doesn't have a window to see the real seeds. Hemp seeds contain many nutrients, including proteins, minerals (such as magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc), and vitamins.

People with gluten sensitivity can use hemp seeds as a substitute for breadcrumbs to cover chicken or fish. Hemp seed oil is derived from pressed hemp seeds and contains essential fatty acids. Hemp protein is not as good a source of lysine as soy protein, according to some studies. Hemp hearts lack the fibrous shell of whole hemp seeds and therefore have less fiber and other nutrients.

You can find all of these hemp products at health food stores or at well-stocked grocery stores such as Whole Foods. Adding hemp seeds to a healthy shake is an excellent way to get an extra boost of beneficial nutrients. You can also try sprinkling hemp seeds on almond butter and banana toast for a nutty flavor. Hemp seed oil has been useful in treating eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis and acne rosacea, as well as milk crust in infants. When it comes to nuts and seeds, hemp seeds are like an outstanding student who is also the captain of the soccer team.

In reality, you can't get much nutritional value from unshelled seeds, so when you see a bag in the store labeled hemp seeds, what you're buying are those soft grains inside, also known as hemp hearts.