6 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
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Hemp seeds are the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.
They are from the same species as cannabis (marijuana) but a different variety.
However, they contain only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.
Hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals.
Here are 6 health benefits of hemp seeds that are backed up by science.
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts.
Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat. They are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).
They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has been linked to several health benefits (1).
Hemp seeds are a great protein source, as more than 25% of their total calories are from high-quality protein.
That is considerably more than similar foods like chia seeds and flaxseeds, whose calories are 16–18% protein.
Hemp seeds are also a great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc (1, 2 ).
Hemp seeds can be consumed raw, cooked or roasted. Hemp seed oil is also very healthy and has been used as a food and medicine in China for at least 3,000 years (1).
Summary Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are also a great protein source and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide ( 3 ).
Interestingly, eating hemp seeds may reduce your risk of heart disease.
The seeds contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which produces nitric oxide in your body ( 4 ).
Nitric oxide is a gas molecule that makes your blood vessels dilate and relax, leading to lowered blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease ( 5 ).
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 ( 6 , 7 ).
The gamma-linolenic acid found in hemp seeds has also been linked to reduced inflammation, which may decrease your risk of diseases like heart disease ( 8 , 9 ).
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 ( 10 , 11 , 12 ).
Summary Hemp seeds are a great source of arginine and gamma-linolenic acid, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Fatty acids may affect immune responses in your body ( 13 , 14 , 15 ).
Studies suggest that your immune system depends on the balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Hemp seeds are a good source of polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids. They have about a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which is considered in the optimal range.
Studies have shown that giving hemp seed oil to people with eczema may improve blood levels of essential fatty acids.
The oil may also relieve dry skin, improve itchiness and reduce the need for skin medication ( 16 , 17 ).
Summary Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats. They have a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which may benefit skin diseases and provide relief from eczema and its uncomfortable symptoms.
About 25% of calories in hemp seeds come from protein, which is relatively high.
In fact, by weight, hemp seeds provide similar amounts of protein as beef and lamb — 30 grams of hemp seeds, or 2–3 tablespoons, provide about 11 grams of protein (1).
They are considered a complete protein source, which means that they provide all the essential amino acids. Your body cannot produce essential amino acids and must obtain them from your diet.
Complete protein sources are very rare in the plant kingdom, as plants often lack the amino acid lysine. Quinoa is another example of a complete, plant-based protein source.
Hemp seeds contain significant amounts of the amino acids methionine and cysteine, as well as very high levels of arginine and glutamic acid (18).
The digestibility of hemp protein is also very good — better than protein from many grains, nuts and legumes ( 19 ).
Summary About 25% of the calories in hemp seeds come from protein. What’s more, they contain all the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source.
Up to 80% of women of reproductive age may suffer from physical or emotional symptoms caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS) ( 20 ).
These symptoms are very likely caused by sensitivity to the hormone prolactin ( 21 ).
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), found in hemp seeds, produces prostaglandin E1, which reduces the effects of prolactin ( 22 , 23 , 24 ).
In a study in women with PMS, taking 1 gram of essential fatty acids — including 210 mg of GLA — per day resulted in a significant decrease in symptoms ( 22 ).
Other studies have shown that primrose oil, which is rich in GLA as well, may be highly effective in reducing symptoms for women who have failed other PMS therapies.
It decreased breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability and fluid retention associated with PMS ( 25 ).
Because hemp seeds are high in GLA, several studies have indicated that they may help reduce symptoms of menopause, too.
The exact process is unknown, but the GLA in hemp seeds may regulate the hormone imbalances and inflammation associated with menopause ( 26 , 27 , 28 ).
Summary Hemp seeds may reduce symptoms associated with PMS and menopause, thanks to its high levels of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
This is a detailed article about hemp seeds and their health benefits. Here are 6 ways that consuming hemp seeds can improve your health.
Hemp seeds from the hemp plant (cannabis sativa) are naturally loaded with nutritional value, boasting all of the essential amino acids and fatty acids the body needs. These whole hemp seeds arrive with their hulls and shells intact, but once you crack into them, you’ll discover a huge variety of nutritional and medicinal applications.
4 Surprising Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
As a dietary supplement, hemp seeds provide a hearty helping of simple proteins, a perfect balance of essential acids, and a blend of rich minerals and antioxidants.
1) Protein Powerhouse: Hemp seed is valued for being a complete protein, containing all 21 amino acids, including all 9 essential amino acids. It’s important to consume essential amino acids through food because our bodies cannot produce them naturally. A single serving of hemp seeds contains 11 grams of protein. Between 1/4 and 1/3 of hemp seed by weight is pure protein, and hemp seed protein is distinctive for being amazingly easy to digest.
2) Perfect Balance of Essential Fatty Acids: Hemp seed contains an ideal balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids, in a proportion of 3:1. These fatty acids cannot be synthesized by the body but are required to support a wide range of cellular processes in the body, including the proper function of the heart and brain. Hemp seed is an even more potent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than flaxseed, which is renowned as a health food staple.
3) Tons of Nutrients: Hemp seeds are also an excellent source of vitamin E, zinc, iron, and magnesium. Vitamin E and zinc are potent antioxidants that protects cells against the damaging effect of free radicals. Iron helps deliver oxygen-rich red blood cells throughout the body and magnesium plays a role in hundreds of chemical reactions in the body.
4) Heart-Healthy: A 2013 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that hemp seed consumption could reduce elevated blood pressure in hypertensive rats. The research suggests that hemp seeds may offer benefits to prevent and treat hypertension.
Taste and Uses of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds have a pleasant nutty taste and crunchy texture. Snack on the raw seeds throughout the day, toss them into salads or substitute them for nuts in your favorite baking recipes. If you’re looking for an alternative to dairy milk, try blending one part hemp seed with four parts water to mix up your own hemp milk. You can even buy whole hemp seeds to make your own soothing skin care solution–try grinding the seeds into paste with a mortar and pestle and mixing it with other natural skin care substances like aloe vera gel or our raw organic cacao butter.
Hemp Seeds: Our Registered Dietitian’s Top Pick
Our Registered Dietitian and Health Nut loves these nutrient packed seeds! They have all essential amino acids and healthy fats, and are a great addition to salads, oatmeal, or stir fries, giving them an extra crunch. You can also grind them and add them to a smoothie.
Hemp Seeds Storage
It’s best to keep hemp seeds refrigerated in an airtight container. If you purchase a 5-pound bag, consider putting 1 pound of the hemp seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator for daily use and freezing the rest.
Birds Eat Hemp Seeds, Too
Although us humans love these seeds for their great taste and powerful nutrients, we’re not the only ones in on the secret. Pour a few handfuls into your outdoor feeder or just scatter it on the lawn to see what a popular item hemp bird seed really is! You can mix it into your existing bird feed blend to attract a wider variety of species, or just put it out by itself–grosbeaks and cardinals in particular love to eat hemp seeds.
*Per United States regulations, these hemp seeds have been heat sterilized*
Hemp seeds have all essential amino acids and healthy fats, and are a great addition to salads, oatmeal, or stir fries. Great prices and ready to ship.