Hello Cannalist! I’m on a FOD map diet and my boyfriend is Keto, which got us wondering, are hemp seeds gluten free? Thank you!

This question has become more common, as both gluten-free items and hemp seeds started springing up on cafè and restaurant menus, across New Zealand. As a general rule, most nuts and seeds, in their natural form and without additives, are totally gluten-free; which makes hemp seeds perfect for keto, gluten-free and FODMAP diets.


hemp seeds are completely gluten-free, dairy-free, raw, vegan and good for you; but not enough people know!

What is gluten, anyway?

Gluten is made of two proteins – prolamins and glutelins – which only occur naturally in cereals, grains and malts. Gluten is pretty useful in the food industry; it’s basically, the “glue” that holds bread together, but it can penetrate the walls of the bowels and slip into the bloodstream, where it may be recognised as an invader and throw your immune system into overdrive. This can cause symptoms ranging from inflammation to exhaustion and some health professionals blame gluten for auto-immune disease symptoms and over-inflammation. Since hemp is not closely related to the gluten grains, hemp seeds are completely gluten-free and may only become contaminated by gluten, during processing with other gluten containing products.

So what is hemp seed?

Hemp seed is a tiny, soft, nut-like seed,  commonly grown in New Zealand. As of 2019, hemp seed was deemed safe for human consumption by The New Zealand Ministry of Health and hemp hearts, the inner part of the hulled hemp seed, are also edible.

Urban legends and common misconceptions

In much the same way that Kombucha contains 0.5% alcohol, yet is still considered safe to drink, because the alcohol content is too low to have a noticeable effect on the consumer; hemp seeds also  contain a microscopic amount of THC. THC is the compound famously responsible for the “high effect” of Cannabis Sativa and often, mistakenly, also attributed to hemp. (Confused? Read Hemp VS. Cannabis Sativa). Typically, hemp seeds contain just 0.35% THC; consuming even 10 times this percentage would not result in an induced ‘high’. Since hemp seeds also, naturally, contain high amounts of protein, a consumer would more probably die of a ruptured stomach, before feeling even the smallest effect of THC.

Another common misconception is that hemp seeds can help with pain. The explanation behind this misunderstanding is a little more complicated and a more accurate response is that, hemp seeds may provide pain relief, overtime. When taken as a supplement, hemp seeds can help prevent pain, because they contain high amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 acids; but these poly-unsaturated fatty acids won’t immediately take your pain away. These “good fats”, found predominantly in fish and nut oils, are essential to everyone’s diet and can help reduce inflammation and joint pain, over the long-term. Don’t throw out your Panadol just yet though, because if you’re looking for immediate, or chronic pain relief, you’d do better to talk to your doctor about medical grade Cannabis Sativa, or CBD oil, than attempt to find relief with hemp seeds.

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