7 Proven Benefits of Hemp Seed

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Hemp seeds are one of the best sources of plant-based protein and GLA and have a lot of benefits, including their ability to improve heart health, stimulate digestion, and treat insomnia and anxiety. They also help to boost the immune system, reduce symptoms of menopause and menstruation, improve skin and hair health.

What is Hemp Seed?

Hemp seeds, or hemp hearts, are the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. Technically a nut, these small, crunchy seeds are safe to consume and contain only traces of a psychotropic chemical, called THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis which is known to cause euphoria. These seeds have a soft, creamy filling which has a mild, nutty flavor, and they are usually eaten raw.

Hemp is the common term for a variety of plants in the Cannabis family. This beneficial and versatile plant can be turned into fibers, oil, wax, resin, cloth, fuel, and a wide range of other useful products. Hemp grows all over the world, as it is a very resilient plant which can grow in a variety of environmental conditions. The main concern that people have with edible hemp products, is that it comes from a cannabis plant. However, hemp seeds that are sold for consumption have less than 0.5% THC and are safe to eat. [1]

Nutrition Facts

Seeds, hemp seed, hulled
Serving Size :
Water [g]4.96
Energy 553
Energy [kJ]2313
Protein [g]31.56
Total lipid (fat) [g]48.75
Ash [g]6.06
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]8.67
Fiber, total dietary [g]4
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]1.5
Sucrose [g]0.85
Glucose (dextrose) [g]0.2
Fructose [g]0.31
Lactose [g]0.07
Maltose [g]0.07
Calcium, Ca [mg]70
Iron, Fe [mg]7.95
Magnesium, Mg [mg]700
Phosphorus, P [mg]1650
Potassium, K [mg]1200
Sodium, Na [mg]5
Zinc, Zn [mg]9.9
Copper, Cu [mg]1.6
Manganese, Mn [mg]7.6
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0.5
Thiamin [mg]1.28
Riboflavin [mg]0.29
Niacin [mg]9.2
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.6
Folate, total [µg]110
Folate, food [µg]110
Folate, DFE [µg]110
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]1
Carotene, beta [µg]7
Vitamin A, IU [IU]11
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.8
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]4.6
16:0 [g]2.87
18:0 [g]1.24
20:0 [g]0.31
22:0 [g]0.12
24:0 [g]0.06
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]5.4
18:1 [g]5.28
18:1 c [g]5.02
20:1 [g]0.12
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]38.1
18:2 [g]27.46
18:2 n-6 c,c [g]27.36
18:2 CLAs [g]0.2
18:3 [g]10.02
18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA) [g]8.68
18:3 n-6 c,c,c [g]1.34
18:4 [g]0.62
Tryptophan [g]0.37
Threonine [g]1.27
Isoleucine [g]1.29
Leucine [g]2.16
Lysine [g]1.28
Methionine [g]0.93
Cystine [g]0.67
Phenylalanine [g]1.45
Tyrosine [g]1.26
Valine [g]1.78
Arginine [g]4.55
Histidine [g]0.97
Alanine [g]1.53
Aspartic acid [g]3.66
Glutamic acid [g]6.27
Glycine [g]1.61
Proline [g]1.6
Serine [g]1.71
Sources include : USDA [2]

Hemp Seed Nutrition

These seeds rank high in plant-based protein as it contains 25% of high-quality protein, which makes it superior to other plant-based superfoods like quinoa, flax, and chia seeds. Furthermore, it is composed of a large number of edible oils and a variety of essential fats in the body, including omega 3 and a rare form of omega-6 called GLA (gamma linoleic acid). As per the USDA National Nutrient Database, these small seeds contain high levels of zinc, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, and fiber. It also contains vitamin E, copper, manganese, and moderate levels of carbohydrates and fats. [3]

Health Benefits of Hemp Seed

Hemp and its seeds have been used for thousands of years by various cultures as traditional medicine and dietary supplement. These seeds are very beneficial in treating many conditions. Let us look at the benefits of hemp seed in detail below.

Improves Heart Health

Most specialists recommend a specific balance of 3:1 or 4:1 omega-6 fatty acid to omega-3 fatty acid for good heart health. According to Dr. Delfin Rodriguez Leyva’s, ( Department of Physiology, University of Manitoba and Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, St Boniface Hospital Research Centre, Canada) report in the Nutrition and Metabolism Journal, this seed is one of the only plant substances in the world where this is the normal balance already. [4]

Hemp seed also has a unique characteristic – gamma-linoleic acid, commonly known as GLA, which is a rare form of omega-6 fatty acid that can be found in very few edible sources, but it can have amazingly beneficial effects on your health. It has been connected to improving a number of cardiovascular conditions, and it helps to lower negative cholesterol while increasing the presence of beneficial cholesterol. [5]

The proper balance of saturated fats in the body is essential to the normal functioning of the body, and the prevention of various conditions, including atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. Furthermore, since this seed has a high content of fiber, heart health is further boosted because fiber scrapes off excess cholesterol from the artery walls that also lead to heart conditions, and takes them to the excretory system where they can be processed and eliminated.

The presence of a protein called hydroslylate in hemp seeds is also able to lower the blood pressure, thereby preventing the risk of a stroke or a heart disease. It has amazing therapeutic benefits for the treatment and prevention of hypertension. [6]

A wooden bowl filled with dried hemp seeds and scattered on a wooden table

Hemp seeds are considered one of the most valuable plant-based proteins out there. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Aids in Digestion

Hemp seed is a wonderful source of dietary fiber, both insoluble and soluble, in a ratio of 4:1, says a report published in the Biosystems Engineering Journal by a team of researchers from Ankara University, Turkey. Insoluble fiber is best for bulking up the stool and easing the passage through the digestive tract, thereby reducing symptoms of both diarrhea and constipation. [7]

Soluble fiber, on the other hand, is responsible for slowing glucose absorption and increasing the digestive and gastric juices, which further ease the passing of bowels. Soluble fiber also stimulates bile juice, which reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the body. Overall, the effects of these two types of fiber on the body can help you avoid a number of mild to serious health conditions. [8]

Helps with Insomnia & Anxiety

One of the most important aspects of hemp seed is its high mineral content, including magnesium, which creates a very soothing and relaxing sensation throughout the body. Magnesium has various stimulating qualities on enzymes and hormones that induce sleep. [9]

According to a report published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, serotonin is released when magnesium is administered, and it travels to the brain, where it becomes converted to melatonin. Melatonin is a powerful sleep aid. A single serving of hemp seed contains nearly 50% of the daily recommended dose of magnesium, so grab a handful and get guaranteed beneficial and restorative sleep. [10]

Author Paoli Ranalli in the book, Advances in Hemp Research, states that one of the major minerals that one can find in hemp seed is iron, an integral part of red blood cell construction in the human body. Iron deficiency can result in anemia, so having a proper amount of iron intake from foods like hemp seed can help prevent anemia, which displays itself in symptoms like fatigue, headaches, muscle weakness, and a wide range of other symptoms. Iron also helps in reducing stress and anxiety. The cannabidiol in this seed also helps in improving sleep and reducing anxiety, as per a study published in the Permanente Journal. [11] [12]

Improves Hair & Skin Health

By having so many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, as well as phenolic compounds, fiber, and various beneficial oils, your entire immune system can benefit and help to defend the body against a variety of health conditions and diseases. [13]

Oil from these seeds is extensively used in cosmetic and skin care products, because of its soothing effects on various skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema, skin inflammation, psoriasis, and more. It also helps in eliminating dry and flaking skin and prevents the development of dandruff. [14]

Multiple sclerosis

Co-supplemented with primrose oil, hemp seed is shown to be beneficial in preventing this demyelinating disease, which is multiple sclerosis (MS). It also helps in improving the symptoms of relapsing MS patients. [15]

Regulates Menopause Symptoms

The gamma-linoleic acid content of hemp seed works as a hormone regulator for the thyroid and pancreas, and it can reduce many of the symptoms that come from a hormonal imbalance, including severe menopausal symptoms, mood swings, depression, and anxiety. It also can help regulate the hormones that affect weight gain and hunger. [16] [17]

May Help in Alcohol & Drug Relapse

Cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive constituent of Cannabis sativa, can be used to combat alcoholism and curb cocaine cravings, according to a study conducted by the researchers at the Department of Neuroscience, The Scripps Research Institute, USA. However, more research on this is required. [18]

Hemp Seeds vs. Chia Seeds

  • Both these seeds are nutritionally rich. However, hemp seeds contain more protein and omega 6 fatty acids as compared to chia seeds. Chia seeds, on the other hand, have higher fiber content and this fiber is mostly soluble which helps in digestion and controls blood sugar levels.
  • They can both be added to stews, smoothies, and other recipes.

How to Use Hemp Seeds?

Hemp seeds should be stored in a cool and dry place as they are sensitive to heat and light. They can be used in numerous ways, including the following:

  • Smoothies & Salads: You can sprinkle these seeds on smoothies, yogurt, cereal, in sandwiches and salads and use it in raw granola bars.
  • Butter & Milk: Hemp seed is also used to prepare milk which can be substituted for other milk varieties. You can also replace almond or peanut butter with butter made of hemp seeds.
  • Oil: Hemp seed oil is a healthy choice, best used in its cold-pressed form in salad dressings and drizzled over food.

Side Effects

There are countless benefits of hemp seed, but are there any risks?

  • There are no known allergic reactions to hemp seed, but the contact that the seeds may have had with THC-covered plant parts could result in small residues of THC on the seeds. This means that you could possibly experience the feeling of being “high” or under the effect of the psychotropic chemical. This effect of hemp seed is quite rare and isn’t harmful, but it can be an uncomfortable feeling if not anticipated.
  • Another precaution to be considered is for those who take anticoagulants, as hemp seeds promote blood platelets and may cause a bleeding risk.

While you are using any CBD or hemp derived products, it is important to check your state’s laws and guidelines for the same. Hemp-derived CBD products are illegal in the US on a federal level, but still legal in many states. If you are travelling, then make sure you comply with that city/state’s laws regarding the consumption and use of CBD. Remember that most CBD products are not FDA-approved and therefore may be sold illegally or with wrong labeling. Check with your doctor if you have a serious or chronic condition.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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