If I tell you that there is a variety of cannabis plant seeds that are legal and safe for consumption, then you’ll laugh it off. Well, let me present hemp seeds which are full of nutrients and contain high fiber and PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) content. There are several hemp seeds benefits such as it can improve digestion, delay neurodegeneration and cardiovascular problems, alleviate symptoms of allergy, maintain hormonal balance, minimize the spread of cancer, etc.
For long, despite several hemp seeds benefits, they were ignored because of their source plant matching with marijuana. Hemp seeds come from the hemp plant. Hemp is a type of cannabis plant which also produces marijuana.
Marijuana or weed, which is used recreationally to get high, contains a compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in high quantity (5-10%). This compound is responsible for its psychoactive activity. Hemp seeds, on the other hand, contain only 0.3-1.5% THC.
These highly nutritious seeds don’t get you high and hence, have no addiction or negative consequences on your health. So, you can go ahead and get those hemp seeds at the far end of the aisle without any second thoughts.
What is hemp seed?
Hemp seeds are derived from the hemp plant or cannabis sativa. They are a perfect protein source as they can provide all the 20 amino acids, including the nine essential amino acids, which can’t be produced in our body.
Hemp seeds have a perfect 3:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids which promotes cardiovascular and brain health. Hemp seeds have a high amount of gamma-linolenic acid which maintains the hormonal balance in our body
Hemp seeds nutrition
The multifaceted benefits of hemp seeds come because of its high nutrient content as mentioned below. One ounce (28 grams) of hemp seeds contains – (1)
- 161 calories
- 3 grams carbohydrates
- 2 grams protein
- 3 grams fat
- 2 grams fiber
- 4 milligrams vitamin E (77% of DV)
- 8 milligrams manganese (140% of DV)
- 300 milligrams magnesium (75% of DV)
- 405 milligrams phosphorus (41% of DV)
- 5 milligrams zinc (34% of DV)
- 9 milligrams iron (22% of DV)
Top 9 hemp seeds benefits
1. Minimize menopausal problems
Hemp seeds benefits are also seen in menopause which is the cessation of menstruation. Women enter the menopausal phase at the age of 45-55 years.
This transition is accompanied by a lot of issues like mood swings, vaginal irritation, weak bones, and increased LDL (bad cholesterol). These troubles primarily arise due to a reduction in estrogen and progesterone and an increase in prolactin.
Hemp seeds are rich in gamma-linolenic acid which is an essential fatty acid used to make prostaglandin E1. Higher prostaglandin E1 levels will minimize the deleterious effects of excess prolactin in perimenopausal women like irritability, depression, breast pain, and fluid retention. (2)
Gamma-linolenic acid and calcium supplements together delay the progress of osteoporosis (bone demineralization involving frequent fractures and bone pain). (3)
A study on ovariectomized mice revealed that hemp intake caused less alteration in serum estrogen levels and lowered mood deterioration and serum LDL levels as compared to the control group. (4)
2. Improve cardiovascular health
A healthy heart is a sign of regular exercise, a balanced diet, and a stress-free life. Hemp seeds have earned a spot in the list of foods which improve cardiovascular health owing to their high omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. (5)
The polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) which are plentiful in a single cup of hemp seeds reduce oxidative stress and the harm caused by free radicals. They also lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood while elevating HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
Hence, they protect us from atherosclerosis (age-related plaque formation in blood vessels) and ischemic heart disease. (6)
A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that regular intake of hemp seeds significantly reduced the blood pressure in hypertensive rats. (7)
So, all of you, who are popping hypertension pills every day and are on salt restriction, can start adding hemp seeds to your recipes.
3. Keep brain cells healthy
There are several hemp seeds benefits when it comes to keeping brain cells healthy. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities of the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in hemp seeds reduces the harmful free radicals and reactive oxygen species in the brain which increase with age and also in certain neurodegenerative conditions.
A 2011 study using Drosophila (fruit flies) models showed that a regular hemp seed meal reduced amyloid protein induced eye degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease. (8)
4. Promote weight loss
Since hemp seeds contain a large number of fibers, four to five tablespoons of these seeds not only make you feel full but also minimize your sugar cravings.
A regular intake of hemp seeds is postulated to burn fat, build muscles and reduce weight. (9) So, in addition to your low-carb, high-protein diet, hemp seeds can be the latest addition to your regimen for losing weight.
5. Alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis and similar autoimmune conditions not only deteriorate your quality of life but they also cause constant pain and morphological abnormalities.
The underlying problem in rheumatoid arthritis is the production of rheumatoid factor (antibodies against the body’s immune system) which plays a significant role in activating T and B cells against our joint tissues.
Research shows that hemp seed oil induces apoptosis in the MH7A human RA fibroblast-like synovial cells which are involved in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis.
The ability of hemp seed oil to reduce rheumatoid factor levels in the blood has been used for centuries by Chinese and Korean traditional practitioners to treat this debilitating condition. (10)
6. Prevent the spread of cancer
Apart from the anti-inflammatory activity of the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in hemp seeds, they contain another compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which has anti-tumor properties.
A 2006 study published in the British Journal of Cancer revealed that THC has an anti-proliferative action on tumor cells in glioblastoma multiforme (a malignant tumor of brain cells). (11)
Another study shows the effectiveness of hemp seeds in reducing the growth and spread of breast cancer. (12)
Hence, the potential use of hemp seeds as an anti-tumor medication has created immense interest in the medical fraternity about this superfood.
7. Improve the quality of skin, hair, and nails
There are several hemp seeds benefits when it comes to improvement of the quality and health of your skin, nails, and hair.
We spend thousands of dollars on quality skin and hair care products while just three to four tablespoons of hemp seeds provide similar benefits.
Hemps seed oil is a constituent of a variety of high-end products like lip balm, body soap, and lotion. Research shows that the addition of hemp seed oil to your body cream reduces the occurrence of inflammatory conditions like atopic dermatitis and eczema. (13)
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids present in hemp seed oil are useful in autoimmune diseases like psoriasis. Oil application also prevents flaky and dry skin which is often experienced by people suffering from these conditions. (14)
You can also make your customized body cream containing hemp seed oil, shea butter, and some essential oils like lavender.
8. Uphold the functions of the digestive tract
We all know a high-fiber diet goes a long way in maintaining the gut motility and preventing constipation. Hemp seeds contain two kinds of fibers as 20% soluble and 80% insoluble. (15)
Soluble fibers form a gel-like substance in the gut and provide nourishment to the friendly gut bacteria, and hence, improve our immunity. Insoluble fibers form a part of roughage which increases the bulk of feces and induces satiety.
A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology revealed that hemp seed pills, a type of traditional Chinese medicines, are safe and efficient in alleviating the symptoms of functional constipation. (16)
9. Control type 2 diabetes
According to a census performed in 2015, about 30.3 million people suffer from diabetes in the USA. (17) This seemingly trivial illness has severe repercussions in the long term in terms of kidney failure, vision damage, and problems in peripheral nerves.
The anti-inflammatory action of the gamma-linolenic acid in hemp seeds alleviates the pain of diabetic neurpathy. Since hemp seeds are low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fat, they help to lower blood glucose levels. (18)
Household uses of hemp seeds
From your morning smoothies to your late-night desserts, hemp seeds are synergistic with all your recipes.
- You can crush some seeds and sprinkle them on yogurt or cereals for some crunch and nutrition.
- Like any dressing oil, you can drizzle some hemp seed oil over salads and pasta to make them more palatable.
- Hemp nut butter is also available in the market which you can consume in a way similar to that of peanut and almond butter.
- In addition to almond and coconut milk, you can also get hemp milk which can be used as a milk substitute, especially for those suffering from lactose intolerance.
Store the hemp seeds in a cool, dry place or the refrigerator as they are sensitive to heat and light.
Precautions while consuming hemp seeds
By now you must be aware of several hemp seeds benefits. While hemp seeds come with a long list of benefits, there are specific factors that you must take into consideration before ingesting them – (19)
- Omega-3 fatty acids in hemp seeds may alter blood clotting mechanisms and platelet functions. So, if you are on blood thinners, check with your physician before ingesting these seeds.
- The oil in hemp seeds may go rancid if kept out for more than two months. So you either keep them in a refrigerator to increase their shelf-life or you discard them after two months.
- Although hemp seeds are a rich source of fibers, you must keep in mind that shelled or un-hulled seeds, also known as hemp hearts, contain very little fibers as their fiber-rich covering is removed.
Over to you on hemp seeds benefits
Although hemp seeds have some amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), its quantity is meager hence, making it safe and legal.
You must remove the stigma associated with these nutritious seeds derived from the cannabis family of plants and focus on several hemp seeds benefits such as improved cardiovascular and brain health, better digestion, aids in weight loss, etc.
You can add hemp seeds to your recipes in the raw form, or you can use their powder, butter or milk, all of which have similar a nutrient status.
You must be careful if you’re on blood thinners and avoid using hemp seeds that are older than two months. Judicious and regular use of hemp seeds in your diet will have positive effects on your health in the long run.