Hemp seeds and their nutritional benefits have been the talk of the town for quite some time now, gaining popularity day by day. And it all started when consumption and cultivation became federally legal in the U.S. with the 2018 Farm Bill, which is when an increasing number of people started consuming hemp seeds and hemp seed products.
If you’ve been eyeing that pack of hemp seeds on the aisles of your local health food store, this article is for you. We’ll talk about the health benefits of hemp seeds and their nutritional value, as well as how much you should consume and how to consume them.
What Exactly Are Hemp Seeds and What Is Their Nutritional Value?
Hemp seeds, as the name suggests, are the seeds of the hemp plant, formally called Cannabis Sativa L., which is a variety of the cannabis plant. What makes this variety different from marijuana is that its THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content is naturally very low (about 0.3%), while its CBD (cannabinol) content is very high.
Hemp seeds are highly nutritious. They’re one of the few plant-based foods that contain all nine essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source. They’re also rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and both insoluble and soluble fiber. What’s also impressive is that the ratio of omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids in hemp seeds is in the optimal range.
Do Hemp Seeds Contain THC?
Although hemp is a cousin of marijuana, and hemp does contain trace amounts of THC, the hemp seeds themselves do not contain THC because the cannabinoids in hemp are naturally found in the flowers, stalks, and leaves of the plant.
So, whatever form of hemp seeds you consume, whether hemp seed oil, hemp milk, hemp protein, or plain hemp seeds, you do not need to worry about ingesting THC. This also means that consuming hemp seeds doesn’t put you at risk of failing a drug test.
The Numerous Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Since hemp seeds are so nutritious, they must have solid health benefits, right? Let’s check them out!
Hemp Seeds May Lower the Risk of Developing Heart Disease
Hemp seeds are good for heart health because they protect your heart from heart disease. Due to the high content of arginine, an essential amino acid, hemp seeds can lower your blood pressure and relax the blood vessels, while the fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) reduces inflammation linked to heart disease.
Hemp Seeds May Improve Digestion and Digestive Health
Hemp seeds are also very friendly to your digestive system. They contain 20% insoluble and 80% soluble fiber, making them easily digestible. Their soluble fiber content can help your gut flora regain balance and produce friendly bacteria, which in turn can regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Hemp Seeds Can Help With PMS Symptoms
PMS is a very common occurrence in most women and the symptoms can be very unpleasant. The symptoms are actually caused by increased sensitivity to the hormone prolactin, but it has been shown that the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) found in hemp seeds can reduce the sensitivity to prolactin, therefore improving the symptoms.
Hemp Seed Oil Can Be Beneficial for Some Skin Conditions
The fatty acids found in hemp seeds can be beneficial for skin when hemp seed oil is used. Hemp seeds have a perfect balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which helps to boost the immune system and reduce the inflammation associated with eczema.
What Amount of Hemp Seeds Can You Eat Per Day?
Hemp seeds are nutritional bombs, so no wonder they’re often put next to already proclaimed superfoods, like chia seeds and flaxseed. However, even though highly nutritious, hemp seeds should be consumed in moderation. The recommended daily dose is about 2 tablespoons, but it’s best to start with one teaspoon per day and slowly increase your intake.
Side Effects and Drug Interactions of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are pretty well tolerated by most people, but due to their high fat content, they may cause mild diarrhea if you suddenly start eating large amounts. Therefore, it’s recommended that you slowly increase your intake, especially if you have a sensitive digestive system.
People with nut allergies also seem to tolerate hemp seeds well, but depending on the severity of the allergy, consulting with a professional is advised.
Other than that, you should be careful with hemp seeds if you’re on cardiac glycosides, anticoagulants, blood thinners, or diuretics.
How to Consume Hemp Seeds
You can find hemp seeds and hemp seed products in most health food stores. You’ll find hemp milk, a popular vegan milk alternative, hemp cheese substitutes, hemp seed oil, or hemp protein powder. If your local health food store isn’t well-stocked on hemp seed products, the least you can do is buy raw hemp seeds and make some hemp milk yourself.
However, remember that whole hemp seeds and hemp hearts aren’t the same product. The terms are often used synonymously, but hemp hearts actually have their shell removed. This makes them lower in fiber than whole hemp seeds, but they’re still a good source of healthy fats and other nutrients.
Eating hemp seeds is easy as they can fit well into any kind of healthy diet. They can be consumed raw, cooked, or roasted, whichever you prefer. You can toss them in salads or in a cereal bowl, you can even include them in smoothies, or any food combo that you like. Their warm nutty flavor will surely add some depth to any meal.
Hemp Seeds Nutritional Profile
The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) lists some of the following nutritional values of hemp seeds per 100 grams:
- Energy: 2310 kJ (553 kcal)
- Protein: 31.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 8.67 g
- Dietary fiber (total): 4 g
- Sugars (total): 1.5 g
- Fats (total): 48.8 g
- Fat (monounsaturated) : 5.4 g
- Fat (polyunsaturated): 38.1 g
- Vitamin C: 0.5 mg
- Vitamin E: 0.8 mg
- Vitamin B1: 1.28 mg
- Vitamin B2: 0.285 mg
- Vitamin B3: 9.2 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.6 mg
- Vitamin B9: 110 µg
- Vitamin A: 1 µg
- Calcium: 70 mg
- Iron: 7.95 mg
- Magnesium: 700 mg
- Phosphorus: 1650 mg
- Potassium: 1200 mg
- Sodium: 5 mg
- Zinc: 9.9 mg
- Copper 1.6 mg
- Manganese: 7.6 mg
The Takeaway – Hemp Seeds For the Win
Hemp seeds are worth adding to your diet, especially if you’re vegan, due to them being a complete protein source. Apart from that, they contain many other beneficial nutrients, including essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They’re easy to add to your diet because their flavor can be easily incorporated into many dishes, but if you’re not into the seeds, you can consume other hemp seed products such as hemp milk, hemp protein powder, hemp cheese substitutes, and many more.