As more and more research is done when it comes to nutrition, people are looking for the next best superfood that will take their health to another level. Hence, the growing popularity of chia seeds, flax seeds, different supplements, and protein powders.
But have you ever thought about the health benefits that come from consuming hemp products, like hemp seeds? If not, stick around as that will be the focus of this article. We’ll explore if you can eat hemp seeds daily as well as give you information about the nutritional benefits that these superfood seeds have.
The 411 on Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds come from the hemp plant Cannabis Sativa and have been used for hundreds of years for their numerous health benefits and the fact they don’t give any side effects. They’re technically nuts with a distinct nutty flavor and are a good source of healthy fats and proteins which boost the immune system.
Hemp seeds contain large amounts of the two essential fatty acids – linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid), as well as the Gamma-linoleic-acid (GLA).
Moreover, the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 in hemp is about 3:1, which is optimal for human health and absorption of these nutrients.
Nutritional Value of Hemp Seeds
The hulled hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, are used as food because of their specific nutritional benefits per serving. They’re considered a full protein as a result of containing all the essential amino acids.
A 30-gram serving size (3 tablespoons) of hemp hearts, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database, contains about:
- Energy 180 kcal;
- Protein 10g (20%);
- Fat 15g (23%);
- Carbohydrates 2g (1%);
- Fiber 0.99g (2%);
- Calcium 21 mg (2%);
- Magnesium 210 mg (68%);
- Iron 2.4mg (13%);
- Phosphorus 495 mg (71%);
- Potassium 360 mg (8%);
- Zinc 3 mg (37%).
Hemp seeds also contain some B vitamins like B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and Folate, as well as small amounts of vitamins E and A.
Hemp Seeds Are a Complete Protein
Apart from containing important fatty acids, hemp seeds are a great protein source as about 25% of their calories are high-quality protein, which is a lot more compared to chia seeds whose calories are 16–18% protein. About 30 grams of hemp seeds have about 11 grams of protein.
And as we already mentioned, hemp seeds are considered a complete protein source since they contain all the essential amino acids. Complete proteins are rare if you’re plant-based, but this superfood is one of the few that actually is. Hemp seeds not only contain large amounts of the amino acids methionine and cysteine, but also high levels of arginine and glutamic acid.
Difference Between the Marijuana Plant and the Hemp Plant
It’s a known fact that marijuana and hemp seeds come from the same cannabis plant family – Cannabis Sativa L. But, the main difference between both is that agricultural hemp doesn’t contain notable levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and that’s the reason why marijuana is generally illegal, but hemp seeds aren’t. In fact, the strains of the industrial hemp plant used as food sources need to have less than 0.3% of THC for them to be legal for cultivation in the United States.
The Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds and Hemp Hearts
Hemp seeds and hemp hearts have a large list of health benefits and we’ll only scratch the surface by listing a few of them. More and more research is being done into how the hemp plant aids us on our journey to better health and we’ll just have to wait and see what the new research will show.
As we’ve previously stated, hemp seeds have the ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids (3:1). This ratio helps the body support healthy cholesterol levels, helps the immune system to better regulate the body, and helps the body achieve homeostasis (balance). (Jung Lee et al, 2011)
As recent studies have shown, hemp seeds can help with heart disease, platelet aggregation, maintaining a balanced blood pressure, as well as other aspects of cardiovascular health.
Moreover, the antioxidants present in hemp seeds, such as vitamin E, are rich in phytonutrients and complement the maintenance of homeostasis that the essential fatty acids provide.
Another benefit of using hemp seeds as a food source is that they increase the levels of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps the health of veins and arteries by making them smoother and more elastic. The seeds contain significant amounts of L-arginine, an amino acid that turns into nitric oxide. Animal studies, like this one done by the Erciyes University at Kayseri-Turkey, show how including hemp seeds in the diet of Japanese Quails helped them increase their nitric oxide levels.
Using one of the main products of the hemp plant, hemp seed oil, may help reduce inflammation in the body. Hemp seed oil contains gamma linolenic (GLA) and stearidonic fatty acids which both help the body with their anti-inflammatory properties and enhance the function of the immune system. (Vodolazska et al, 2020)
As hemp seed oil contains a large amount of essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6, it can also be used to support healthy hair, skin, nails, and also help patients suffering from eczema. (Kuhnt et al, 2012)
Relieves PMS Symptoms
This may be an important one for the ladies. Gamma linoleic acid (GLA) has been shown to reduce PMS pain by balancing hormone levels, according to some studies. Since hemp seeds contain gamma linolenic (GLA), they can be an ally if you want to soothe and nourish your body when experiencing painful PMS.
Helps With Inflammatory Joint Diseases
As Omega-3 is one of the essential fatty acids, and hemp seeds are loaded with it, it can also help with the treatment of inflammatory joint diseases. A study done in 2020 by the Brygida Kwiatkowska Early Arthritis Clinic in Warsaw Poland, showed that Omega-3 supplementation helps with conditions such as Juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Ankylosing spondylitis, Psoriatic arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and gout. And, as an added bonus, it also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications in these patients.
May Aid Digestion
We know that fiber is of vital importance when it comes to digestive health and health overall. Hemp seeds are a good source of fiber – soluble fiber (20%) and insoluble fiber (80%). Soluble fiber is a nutrient that feeds beneficial digestive bacteria and helps to maintain optimal sugar levels and cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, provides bulking to your stool, helps waste pass through the gut, and has also been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes. (Anderson et al, 2009)
That makes hemp a perfect food source for people who have problems with digestion, and also for those who have allergies since hemp hearts have a low energy potential. Keep in mind that shelled hemp seeds (hemp hearts) have lower amounts of fiber compared to hemp seeds, because the fiber-rich shell has been removed.
Can You Eat Hemp Seeds Daily?
Including hemp seeds in your diet can be really easy since you can find them in most health food stores. You can use hemp seeds on top of veggies, oatmeal, in baking, as hemp milk in your morning cereal, in salad dressings, or even substitute other protein powders with hemp protein powder.
Eating them daily can help you with weight loss, to get more energy, to reduce inflammation, improve heart health, as well as help with other conditions. The seeds have a rich nutritional profile and provide a range of health benefits, and for that reason, they should be a part of your balanced diet.
Lee, M. J., Park, S. H., Han, J. H., Hong, Y. K., Hwang, S., Lee, S., Kim, D., Han, S. Y., Kim, E. S., & Cho, K. S. (2011). The effects of hemp seed meal intake and linoleic acid on Drosophila models of neurodegenerative diseases and hypercholesterolemia. Molecules and cells, 31(4), 337–342. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10059-011-0042-6
Vodolazska, D., & Lauridsen, C. (2020). Effects of dietary hemp seed oil to sows on fatty acid profiles, nutritional and immune status of piglets. Journal of animal science and biotechnology, 11, 28. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40104-020-0429-3
Jin, S., & Lee, M. Y. (2018). The ameliorative effect of hemp seed hexane extracts on the Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation and lipogenesis in sebocytes. PloS one, 13(8), e0202933. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0202933
Anderson, J. W., Baird, P., Davis, R. H., Jr, Ferreri, S., Knudtson, M., Koraym, A., Waters, V., & Williams, C. L. (2009). Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition reviews, 67(4), 188–205. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x