Hemp Hearts vs. Hemp Seeds: What’s the Difference?

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Hemp seeds are a superfood. With a serious amount of all the right nutrients and fiber, a serving of these super seeds not only nourishes your body but also helps keep your gut healthy.

Hemp Seeds vs. Hemp Hearts

Hemp seeds and hemp hearts come from the same plant but are different parts of the plant and have slightly different nutritional profiles.

Hemp seeds are whole hemp plant seeds with a hard outer shell. They are a good source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They can be eaten raw, roasted, or ground into a powder and added to smoothies or baked goods.

Hemp hearts, on the other hand, are the soft inner part of the hemp seed that is exposed when the hard outer shell is removed. They are also known as hulled hemp seeds or shelled hemp seeds. Hemp hearts are higher in protein and lower in fiber than whole hemp seeds. They are a good source of healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and can be eaten raw or added to salads, yogurt, or oatmeal.

However, while there’s no doubting their nutritional value and health benefits, deciding which form of hemp seeds is best can be tricky. As far as that goes, you have two options – hemp seeds and hemp hearts. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they’re two different things. Despite sharing an origin, both forms of hemp seed have different implications for consumers.

So, should you buy hemp seeds or hemp hearts?

hemp hearts vs hemp seeds

Hemp Hearts vs. Hemp Seeds: Which One is Good for You?

For an exhaustive hemp hearts vs. hemp seeds comparison, let’s take a look at how both forms stack up on the following merits:

1. Appearance

A mature hemp plant produces brown kernel-sized hard seeds with a crunchy exterior. When people talk about hemp seed, they’re generally referring to the whole seed with the exterior intact.

Removing the crunchy outer shell, also called hulling, exposes the soft inner kernels with a white to light green color – which is known as the hemp hearts. Hemp hearts may also be referred to as shelled hemp seed, hulled hemp seed, or hemp nut.

Essentially, the main difference between hemp hearts and hemp seeds is the presence (or lack of) of the outer shell.

2. Ease of Consumption

Both hemp hearts and hemp seeds are edible, but the ease of consumption varies. For many, the hulled seeds are easier to consume than hemp seeds because they don’t come with the crunchy, fibrous outer layer.

What’s more, the remains of the hull tend to stick between teeth when eating, which is quite uncomfortable for many. Therefore, the main reason for hulling hemp seeds is to make them more appealing and palatable.

For a better understanding, consider the processing of wheat to make bread. Bleaching wheat to create white bread removes lots of nutrients. If the whole wheat grain is more nutritious than white bread, why do bakers still process it? Simple: white bread is more visibly appealing, softer, and easier to consume.

The same analogy applies to whole hemp seeds and hemp hearts.

3. Fiber Content

While hemp hearts are easier to consume and more visually appealing, whole hemp seeds have more fiber content. They contain 20% soluble and 80% insoluble fiber, both of which are important for a healthy gut.

Soluble fiber forms a thick gel-like fluid in the digestive system that serves as an important source of nutrients for the “good” digestive bacteria. It’s also linked to reducing high blood sugar and regulating cholesterol levels.

Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, makes it easier for food and waste material to pass through the digestive system. Research studies have also linked consuming insoluble fiber to reducing the risk of diabetes.

The main reason why whole hemp seeds contain more fiber is the presence of the outer shell. When you remove the hull to expose hemp hearts, you eliminate an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber, something that modern processed foods are typically low on.

If you have been having issues with your gut and would like a gentle way to cleanse it, consider taking hemp seeds instead of hemp hearts.

4. Nutritional Value

There isn’t much difference when it comes to the nutritional value of hemp seeds and hemp hearts since they have similar nutrient composition.  Both hemp seed forms contain protein, vitamins, all the known essential amino acids, minerals, as well as Omega 6, Omega 3, and Omega 9 fatty acids.

The only difference is that whole hemp seeds have more fiber and minerals, both of which exist primarily in the hull. However, that doesn’t mean hemp hearts don’t have any fiber and minerals. They do, but only in smaller amounts.

How to Consume Hemp Seeds and Hemp Hearts

You can find both of these hemp seed forms at your nearest grocery store. To enjoy the full health benefits of these seeds, here are some of the best ways to consume each form:

Consuming Hemp Hearts

Hulled hemp seeds are ideal in situations where chewiness is preferred to crunchiness. Removing the outer fibrous hull doesn’t just make the seed’s texture softer, it also makes the “meat” of the seed more accessible for chewing. This part of the seed has the highest concentration of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and protein.

Manufactures can use hemp hearts to garnish yogurts and dips as well as blend into nutrition bars and baked foods. If you prefer some flavor, these products can be a fun way to enjoy the nutritional value of hemp hearts. You can also sprinkle hemp hearts on other foods such as yogurt, smoothies, cereal, or use it as a coating substitute for breadcrumbs on fish or chicken.

Consuming Hemp Seeds

With the outer fibrous shell intact, toasted hemp seeds provide an entirely different eating experience compared to their hulled counterparts. The shell makes them crunchy and more fibrous, which some people like.

Before consuming whole hemp seeds, it’s important to sterilize them through toasting, which adds some flavor to the seeds without compromising on the seed’s nutritional value.

Due to their crunchiness, toasted whole hemp seeds generally have fewer applications compared to their hulled seeds. You can eat them as they are (if you don’t mind the crunchiness) or grind them into flour and mix with other ingredients.  

Hemp Hearts vs. Hemp Seeds: Which Should You Buy?

Ultimately, the winner of the hemp hearts vs. hemp seeds debate will depend on your personal preferences and needs.

If you’re looking to add fiber into your diet for a healthier gut, whole hemp seed is a more suitable choice. On the other hand, hulled hemp seeds are ideal for anybody looking for extra versatility in terms of consumption.


Overall, hemp seeds and hemp hearts are nutritious and versatile ingredients that can be incorporated into various dishes. The choice between them may depend on personal preference and the individual’s specific nutritional needs.

For more information on the health benefits of hemp, browse our blog and subscribe to our email list today.

hemp hearts vs hemp seeds