Last updated: August 11, 2021

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When shopping, we have become accustomed to products with or made from linseed or chia seeds. The benefits of these products are always that they are very rich in fibre, have great nutritional values and score points with many polyunsaturated fatty acids. Of course, these are advantages that cannot be denied and more and more people are trying to add these products to their diet.

But always having just these two seeds in your muesli or bar is a bit monotonous in the long run. Fortunately, a new type of seed is entering the market that promises something similar: hemp seeds. In our hemp seed test 2021 we present the newcomers and give you tips on how to use them.




The most important facts

  • Hemp seeds have very good nutritional values, especially in terms of protein and unsaturated fatty acids.
  • Hemp seeds come from the cannabis plant, whose two subspecies are hemp and marijuana. Hemp is considered one of the oldest plants in the world and is often processed.
  • Most hemp seeds grown under EU guidelines have a THC (=psychoactive ingredient) value of less than 0.2 percent, however, the seeds often come into contact with the THC-containing flowers during processing, which is why not all hemp seeds can be consumed without risk.

The Best Hemp Seed: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for hemp seed products

When buying hemp seed products you can pay attention to various aspects, we have listed the most important buying criteria below.

By making the right choice for you, you can save money and also ensure that you don't add anything to your body that it doesn't need. Therefore, always look for high quality and, if necessary, ask to see the manufacturer's certificates.

Origin

Hemp originally comes from South Asia. Since the 90s, cultivation has also been legal in Germany. Therefore, you should make sure that the hemp products also come from Germany, for two reasons:

Firstly, in this way you ensure that the hemp has been cultivated at least under EU guidelines, and secondly, the THC content of the hemp seeds is then also legal in Germany. In Germany, hemp products are allowed to have a maximum THC content of less than 0.2 %.

Composition

This point plays a particularly important role in protein powders made from hemp seeds: the protein-containing seeds are pulverised for this purpose. Many manufacturers, however, mix the resulting powder with other ingredients that may even be harmful to health.

This is because some of these other substances are not grown under the strict EU guidelines that apply to hemp. However, these additives are usually very cheap to buy and are often used to spice up the hemp protein powder.

Information on the packaging

Probably the most important seal in the food sector is the EU organic seal: this basically always states that the packaged product was packaged under the strict EU guidelines.

Furthermore, it must be ensured that the nutritional information has been correctly interpreted by the packer. The EU Directive 90/496/EEC exists for this purpose. This describes which requirements a product must fulfil in order to be allowed to be supplemented with nutritional interpretations. These are listed here:

  • Protein source: When the protein content of a food is at least 12 per cent of the calorific value
  • Vitamin/mineral source: only if a significant amount of the respective mineral is contained
  • High vitamin/mineral content: at least 30 per cent of the recommended daily intake must be able to be covered by it

In the case of hemp seeds, these interpretations can refer to the following nutritional information:

  • Protein
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B6, C, E
  • Thiamine, riboflavin, macin, iron, magnesium, calcium

So if there are other claims on the packaging of your hemp seed product, you may not have a pure product in your hands.

THC content

To understand this, you have to take a closer look at the origin of this substance. The plant is called Cannabis Satvia, and it is divided into two other plants: hemp and marijuana. However, while marijuana contains mostly the psychoactive THC and only a small amount of CBD, hemp is the other way around.

THC is not psychoactive in these low doses.

Modern cultivation methods have now succeeded in removing almost all THC from hemp, which makes hemp seeds legal as such, because CBD is not psychoactive. Nevertheless, it is not impossible that some THC is contained in the hemp. In Germany, a THC content of less than or equal to 0.2 percent is permissible. In these low doses, THC is not psychoactive.

So always make sure that it is stated on the packaging that the THC content is below 0.2 percent, only then can you be sure that you are buying a legal product.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about hemp seeds answered in detail

In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of hemp seeds and to give you an understanding of the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information in the following sections.

What are hemp seeds and how do they work?

Hemp seeds are the seeds of the hemp plant. The seeds can be bought in the shops in hulled and unhulled versions. In recent years, a lot of research has been done on the subject of hemp and many products have been developed with hemp seeds. In the following, the already researched effects of hemp seeds are listed in tabular form (2).

Effect Description
Anti-inflammatory Compared to other seeds, hemp seeds have a high content of antioxidants(3, 4)
Digestion The high content of fatty acids has a positive effect on the intestinal flora(5)
Skin and protein Hemp seeds provide a very high quality protein, which not only affects the muscles but also hypertension. The high vitamin E content can slow down ageing processes of the skin (6, 7, 9, 10)

For whom is the intake of hemp seeds useful?

This is a little more complicated and needs clarification: the consumption of hemp seeds is generally suitable for everyone, however, almost 94 percent of the products available on the market and labelled as THC-free exceed the limits for THC. Accordingly, especially children, pregnant women and frequent consumers should always keep this point in mind.

Hanfsamen-1

The unhulled hemp seeds provide a lot of fibre
(Image source: Canvas Supply Co./ unsplash)

Impairments can follow, especially if you also take certain medicines or alcohol. (1, 8)

Hemp seeds are usually free of THC, as the substance is only contained in the flowers and leaves.

Accordingly, children, pregnant women and frequent consumers should always keep this point in mind.

Due to the aforementioned processing technology, hemp seeds are usually free of THC.

The situation is different with hemp oil: here it can happen that other parts of the plant were processed during the pressing of the oil and thus the THC content is higher than actually expected. Overall, risk groups such as pregnant women or children should avoid hemp products(1, 8).

Hanfsamen-2

The hemp seeds are cold-pressed for the oil
(Image source: Cale Simpson/unsplash)

What types of hemp seeds are there?

The bare seeds come in hulled and unhulled versions. However, the ingredients can also be consumed in powder or capsule form. For the sake of completeness, the following table presenting the individual types also includes hemp oil, as it is pressed from the seeds.

Type Description
Seeds If you pay attention to your protein/fats, go for the hulled ones, if you prefer to take more fibre, then take the unhulled hemp seeds
Powder/capsules Here you have all the active ingredients of the plant combined in a small amount and can determine exactly how many nutritional values you want to take
Oil Oil is excellent for refining sauces! The seeds are cold-pressed for this purpose

In the form of powders or capsules, of course, there is hardly any visual connection between the plant and the form of presentation.

Hanfsamen-3

The benefits of hemp seeds can also be enjoyed in capsule form.
(Image source: Elsa Olofsson/unsplash)

You have to decide for yourself which type of delivery form is right for you. Each type has its advantages, but you get the benefits of the plant in each form.

How should hemp seeds be dosed?

At the current state of science, no precise information can be given on this. The problem with such assessments in relation to hemp seeds is that, as mentioned above, the permissible limits for the THC content are often exceeded because the THC-free seeds can come into contact with the THC-containing flowers and leaves during processing(1, 8)

Even official bodies such as the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (1, 8)do not make any recommendations on this subject.

What side effects can occur during consumption?

As with all seeds, be it linseed or chia seeds, hemp seeds have a very high fibre content, i.e. they swell in the stomach and can cause flatulence.

Another side effect has already been mentioned with the dosage:

Psychoactivity with falsely THC-free products

psychoactivity in falsely THC-free products. If too much of the hemp seeds that come into contact with THC are consumed, psychoactivity can occur. This psychoactivity then resembles the intoxication when consuming marijuana. However, the doses of THC at which this happens naturally depend on the weight, but no more precise information is available from official sources(1, 8).

What alternatives are there to hemp seeds?

Other seeds and oils are much less risky: for example, flax seeds, chia seeds and sesame seeds. These have similar nutritional values, can also be used as oil and have the decisive advantage that one does not have to be afraid of surprising THC levels when consuming products from these plants. These products can be safely consumed by children and pregnant women.(1, 2, 8)

Image source: martinak/ 123rf.com

References (10)

1. DOI 10.17590/20181108-075209-0Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung
Source

2. Elisabeth Schweng: Diplomarbeit über Bedeutung von Hanfprodukten, Wien, 2011
Source

3. Logarušić M, Slivac I, Radošević K, Bagović M, Redovniković IR, Srček VG. Hempseed protein hydrolysates' effects on the proliferation and induced oxidative stress in normal and cancer cell lines. Mol Biol Rep. 2019 Dec
Source

4. Antal D, Paunescu V, Dehelean CA, Ardelean F, Diaconeasa Z, Soica C, Danciu C. Cannabidiol-from Plant to Human Body: A Promising Bioactive Molecule with Multi-Target Effects in Cancer. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Nov 25
Source

5. Vispute MM, Sharma D, Mandal AB, Rokade JJ, Tyagi PK, Yadav AS. Effect of dietary supplementation of hemp (Cannabis sativa) and dill seed (Anethum graveolens) on performance, serum biochemicals and gut health of broiler chickens. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2019 Mar
Source

6. Sapino S, Carlotti ME, Peira E, Gallarate M. Hemp-seed and olive oils: their stability against oxidation and use in O/W emulsions. J Cosmet Sci. 2005 Jul-Aug
Source

7. Malomo SA, He R, Aluko RE. Structural and functional properties of hemp seed protein products. J Food Sci. 2014 Aug
Source

8. Yang Y, Lewis MM, Bello AM, Wasilewski E, Clarke HA, Kotra LP. Cannabis sativa (Hemp) Seeds, Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, and Potential Overdose. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017 Oct 1
Source

9. NCT03508895; University of Manitoba
Source

10. Pihlanto A, Mattila P, Mäkinen S, Pajari AM. Bioactivities of alternative protein sources and their potential health benefits. Food Funct. 2017 Oct 18;8(10):3443-3458. doi: 10.1039/c7fo00302a. PMID: 28804797.
Source

Why you can trust me?

Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
DOI 10.17590/20181108-075209-0Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Elisabeth Schweng: Diplomarbeit über Bedeutung von Hanfprodukten, Wien, 2011
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Logarušić M, Slivac I, Radošević K, Bagović M, Redovniković IR, Srček VG. Hempseed protein hydrolysates' effects on the proliferation and induced oxidative stress in normal and cancer cell lines. Mol Biol Rep. 2019 Dec
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Antal D, Paunescu V, Dehelean CA, Ardelean F, Diaconeasa Z, Soica C, Danciu C. Cannabidiol-from Plant to Human Body: A Promising Bioactive Molecule with Multi-Target Effects in Cancer. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Nov 25
Go to source
Klinische Studie
Vispute MM, Sharma D, Mandal AB, Rokade JJ, Tyagi PK, Yadav AS. Effect of dietary supplementation of hemp (Cannabis sativa) and dill seed (Anethum graveolens) on performance, serum biochemicals and gut health of broiler chickens. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2019 Mar
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Sapino S, Carlotti ME, Peira E, Gallarate M. Hemp-seed and olive oils: their stability against oxidation and use in O/W emulsions. J Cosmet Sci. 2005 Jul-Aug
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Malomo SA, He R, Aluko RE. Structural and functional properties of hemp seed protein products. J Food Sci. 2014 Aug
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
Yang Y, Lewis MM, Bello AM, Wasilewski E, Clarke HA, Kotra LP. Cannabis sativa (Hemp) Seeds, Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, and Potential Overdose. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017 Oct 1
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung
NCT03508895; University of Manitoba
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Pihlanto A, Mattila P, Mäkinen S, Pajari AM. Bioactivities of alternative protein sources and their potential health benefits. Food Funct. 2017 Oct 18;8(10):3443-3458. doi: 10.1039/c7fo00302a. PMID: 28804797.
Go to source
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