Hemp hearts are actually the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. Cannabis sativa is the species of plant that has numerous varieties, including a variety known for having high levels of THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis or marijuana.
Hemp hearts can be taken from any variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, but it is usually harvested from the non-THC variety, which is called industrial hemp. Hemp hearts, or hemp seeds, are rich in fatty acids and can be likened to better-known food items like chia seeds and quinoa.
Harvesting of Hemp Seeds
Hemp plants mature in three to four months, depending on the variety planted and the climate.
The presence of other crops, as well as the season when they were planted can also affect the maturation period of hemp. Hemp hearts are usually harvested when “shattering” is observed. Shattering implies the splitting and withering of the fibrous bracts covering the seeds.
These dried bracts give the seeds the shape of a heart, thus, the name. If at least 70% of the hemp hearts have already shattered, they are ready for harvesting. Readiness for harvest can also be confirmed by testing the seed moisture levels.
If the seed moisture level is down to 20% at the minimum, the hemp hearts can be harvested.
There is a tendency for the hemp hearts near the bottom of the plant to be more mature than the ones near the top, as the plant follows an indeterminate development cycle.
When the hemp hearts are harvested and there is plenty of cracking and popping during processing, this simply means that the moisture content of the hemp hearts is high.
Windy conditions upon maturation of hemp plants can speed up the shattering process, but also increases the likelihood of attracting seed-eating birds to the farm earlier.
Benefits of Eating Hemp Hearts
Commercially-available hemp hearts are marketed as a health food, and there are so many ways to consume the seeds. You can cook with them, extract the oil using a simple hand press, or process the seeds further to create CBD-rich butter, etc.
The main benefit of consuming hemp seeds is gaining access to a host of ultra healthy fatty acids that have been linked to slowing down cellular aging, protecting the heart and the cardiovascular system, and improving circulation.
The natural CBD content of hemp seeds also means that whether you need to or not, you are gaining access to chemical compounds that help mitigate and manage chronic/acute pain, including the type of pain that comes from severe health conditions like cancer.
Cannabidiol, which is omnipresent in Cannabis sativa, has also been linked to improving the symptoms of conditions like childhood epilepsy.
There is also some evidence that hemp might be able to help people suffering from clinical depression and even anxiety. If you are suffering from these conditions, maybe it’s time to consult with a specialist about the possibility of using CBD?