Hemp seeds are one of the best sources of plant-based protein and GLA and have a wide variety of health benefits, including their ability to improve heart health, stimulate digestion, build muscle mass, eliminate insomnia, treat anemia, and aid in weight loss. They also help to stimulate metabolic activity, prevent various cancers, boost the immune system, reduce symptoms of menopause and menstruation, improve skin and hair health, and build stronger bones.
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.
Hemp Seed Nutrition Facts
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). The 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.
Health Benefits of Hemp Seed
Hemp and its seeds have been used for thousands of years by various cultures as a traditional medicine and dietary supplement because the effects were so clearly positive. This seed is very beneficial in treating many conditions. Let us look at the benefits of hemp seed in detail below:
Improves Heart Health
Hemp seed has a wide range of effects on heart health, including the proper balance of cholesterol or fatty acids in the body. Most specialists recommended a specific balance of 3:1 or 4:1 omega-6 fatty acid to omega-3 fatty acid. This seed is one of the only plant substances in the world where this is the normal balance already. The proper balance of saturated fats in the body is essential to 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.
Furthermore, hemp seed has a final unique characteristic. Gamma-linoleic acid, commonly known as GLA, 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. Overall, this seed is a powerful weapon against damage to your heart.
Boosts Digestive Health
Hemp seed is a wonderful source of dietary fiber, both insoluble and soluble, in a ratio of 4:1. 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. 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 conditions, including colorectal cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Hemp seeds are one of the only dietary sources of plant matter that contains 21 amino acids making it a complete protein. This means that it contains all 8 essential amino acids that the body cannot produce naturally but requires for a vast number of internal processes like muscle strength, weight loss, reduction in stress, and more.
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. 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, and insomnia patients have often claimed that magnesium supplementation is the reason. 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.
Hemp seed has a modest content of calcium, which is a necessary element in the creation and strengthening of bones, and also helps to repair the damaged bone matter. Furthermore, the positive boost of calcium which you get from hemp seed and its oil will help you reduce your chances of developing conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis, and help in improving joint health.
Treats Anemia & Reduces Stress
One of the other minerals that can be found 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.
Since hemp seed is very low in sodium and calories and is a complete protein, it can be eaten in large quantities without fear of gaining too much weight. Complete proteins make the body feel full because all of the necessary amino acids have been taken in through food, thereby inhibiting the release of ghrelin and curbing hunger pains. This reduces the chances of overeating and subsequent weight gain. Also, fiber makes the body feel full and stimulates good digestion and fast passage of bowels, which can reduce weight and increase the efficient absorption of nutrients.
Boosts Muscle Mass
Since hemp seed does have the 8 essential amino acids that cannot be made by the human body, it is known as a complete protein, and these are essential in the creation of new tissues in the body, and the strengthening of muscle mass and density. Eating an appropriate amount of hemp seed is a good way to boost your muscle tone.
Hair, Skin, & Nails
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.
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.
The presence of protein hydroslylate in hemp seeds is 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.
There is a certain amount of phenolic compounds in hemp seed and hemp seed oil, and they act as powerful antioxidants which can prevent various types of cancer by eliminating free radicals. Free radicals are the toxic byproducts of cellular metabolism and can damage healthy cells by mutating their DNA into cancerous cells. By boosting your phenolic content through consumption of food like hemp seed, you can prevent many types of cancer from forming in the body.
Strengthens Immune System
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 can help to defend the body against a variety of health conditions and diseases.
Regulates Hormones & 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. Overall, by re-balancing your hormones, your body will work at its optimal and ideal level.
Reduces Alcohol & Drug Relapses
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 a 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.
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.
Use of hemp is banned/restricted in many countries, so consult your health specialist before use. Other than that, enjoy hemp seeds in any number of forms and see just how beneficial they can be!