No, it's not that kind of hemp—but it does pack a nutritional punch.
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Credit: Photo: Manitoba Harvest

Those who frequent the bulk nuts and seeds section of the supermarket might already be familiar with hemp hearts, the edible interiors of the seed that hemp grows from. For those who have yet to come across hemp hearts, however, their reputation shouldn’t be associated with another plant byproduct you might immediately be thinking of.

The hemp plant, which is the source of where hemp heart seeds are cultivated from, does share the same plant species as the marijuana plant, known as the Cannabis Sativa L, reports the Huffington Post. But the hemp plant contains nearly undetectable levels of THC as compared to marijuana plants – hemp hearts contain less than 0.3 percent, while traditional marijuana plants can contain levels upward of 10 to 30 percent. You won’t get high eating hemp hearts, nor will you fail a drug test.

Hemp hearts are a simple solution for adding heartiness to a slew of dishes and increasing protein intake. There’s also a laundry list of health benefits that hemp hearts can offer: They're a noticeable source of fiber, pack an arsenal of vitamins, and are filled with calcium and iron. According to the USDA, hemp hearts are comprised of 25 percent protein and more than 20 percent in fiber. Hemp hearts also contain all of the nine essential amino acids.

Sprinkling an ounce of this nutty topper on your favorite salad will run you 160 calories and provide 10 grams of protein. 

Hemp hearts have a place alongside some of your favorite dishes as a nutty topping – sprinkle them on salads, granola, cereal, or popcorn; smash them into a veggie burger; or blend them into smoothies. 

Many health stores regularly stock hemp hearts, but the nation’s largest producer is Manitoba Harvest. The brand features dozens of recipes on how to incorporate hemp seeds into your own menus, ranging from hemp seed-encrusted chicken fingers to hemp-crusted salmon as well as kale and hemp heart pizza.

A one-pound bag of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts retails for $9.99 on Amazon.