The hemp seed comes from the hemp plant, also known as Cannabis sativa. They come from the same species as marijuana, but it is a different variety with only trace amounts of THC. Hemp seeds are known for being a superfood meaning that they are very nutritionally dense. Hemp seeds in particular are high in healthy fats, protein, and other beneficial minerals.
This article discusses 6 of the health benefits of hemp seeds as well as the research to back up these claims.
Hemp Seeds are Super Nutritious
Hemp seeds are technically not a seed but rather a nut with a mild and nutty flavor.
They contain over 30% fat specifically dense in both linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). Both of these fatty acids play an essential role in the body. Hemp seeds also contain gamma-linolenic acid which research shows could provide multiple health benefits.
Besides being a good source of healthy fats, hemp seeds are also a viable protein source with 25% of their total calories coming exclusively from high-quality protein. This is significantly higher than other well known superfoods in this category like chia seeds and flax seeds whose protein only contributes 16-18% of their total respective calories.
Hemp seeds are high in vitamin E and can be a great source of other minerals including: phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
There are plenty of different ways to consume hemp seeds. They can be eaten raw, cooked, or roasted. Its oil has been used for food and medicine in China dating back at least 3,000 years .
Hemp Seeds Could Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Hemp seeds might have the potential to lower the risk of heart disease. This is because the seeds have a significant amount of the arginine, an amino acid responsible for producing nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a molecule that causes blood vessels to dilate and relax which results in lower blood pressure and can reduce the risk of heart disease .
In a large study in over 13,000 people, increased arginine intake corresponded with decreased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker . High levels of CRP are linked to heart disease.
As mentioned earlier, hemp seeds contain a high amount of gamma-linolenic acid. There has been research into a potential link between gamma-linolenic acid and reduced inflammation which once again, could help reduce the possible risk of heart disease as well as other diseases.
Additionally, animal studies have shown that hemp seeds or hemp seed oil may reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of blood clot formation and help the heart recover after a heart attack.
Hemp Seeds and Oil can Help your Skin
Research shows that the immune system depends on there being a balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and hemp seeds both have a considerable amount of both.They have what is considered to be an optimal range of these fatty acids with a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.
Evidence indicates that hemp seed oil may improve blood levels of these crucial fatty acids for people with eczema. Hemp seed oil could also help soothe dry skin by improving itchiness while also reducing the need for other skin medications.
Hemp Seeds are a Great Source of Protein
About a quarter of the calories in hemp seeds come from high-quality protein which is considered relatively high. In fact, when you compare hemp seeds to traditional sources of protein, like beef or lamb, by weight, they provide similar amounts of protein. 30 grams of hemp seeds contain around 11 grams of protein .
Hemp seeds are considered a complete protein source meaning that they provide all of the essential amino acids. The body has to get these amino acids from different foods because it cannot produce them on its own. It is often difficult to find other plants that are complete protein sources because they typically lack the amino acid lysine. Other amino acids found in hemp seeds like methionine and cysteine as well as a very high amount of arginine and glutamic acid. This makes hemp seeds an excellent source of protein for those who are plant-based or just looking to add more protein to their diet.
Hemp Seeds can help to Mitigate Symptoms of PMS and Menopause
About 80% of women of reproductive age suffer from physical or emotional symptoms that result from premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. A very likely reason for these symptoms is due to a sensitivity to the hormone prolactin .
One study of women with PMS showed that taking 1 gram of essential fatty acids — including 210 mg of gamma-linolenic acid— per day resulted in a significant decrease in symptoms. Some of the decreased symptoms included: breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability and fluid retention.
Hemp seeds also have the possibility to reduce symptoms linked to menopause. There needs to be more research into the exact process, but since hemp seeds are high in gamma-linolenic acid, it seems like hemp might have the ability to regulate various hormone imbalances and inflammation associated with menopause.
Whole Hemp Seeds May Improve Digestion
Fiber is associated with better digestive health making it an essential part of a balanced diet. Whole hemp seeds contain high amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the gut and is responsible for providing digestive bacteria with essential nutrients. It also could mellow out spikes in blood sugar as well as regulate cholesterol levels .
These digestive benefits only really apply to whole hemp seeds. Hemp hearts do not have as much fiber because the fiber-rich shell has been removed.
Although there has been a recent rise in popularity of hemp seeds in the United States, hemp seeds have been an essential food in many different cultures around the world because of their nutritional value. Hemp seeds are especially rich in healthy fats, proteins and other minerals. Their shells are very high in fiber but also contain trace amounts of THC, so it is recommended to talk to a doctor before adding hemp seeds to your diet if you struggle with a cannabis dependence.
The bottom line is that hemp seeds can live up to their superfood title because they are incredibly nutritious.