Hemp seeds come from the plant Cannibus sativa L, which is not exactly the same as the marijuana plant, although they are very similar and are part of the same Cannibus family. Let’s get one thing clear: hemp seeds will not get you high and are perfectly safe to eat. This is because hemp contains more CBD (or cannibidiol) than it does THC. To clarify, hemp seed is only about 0.3-1.5% THC. This means that it has little to no psychoactive effects.
The hemp seed is a simple dry fruit with a hard shell, kind of like the sunflower or sesame seeds. It has a mild, nutty flavour. The seed is one of the most versatile plants and is used for much more than just food. Most notably, hemp is used as fibre or textile and has been used that way for 10,000 years or more. Now, it’s sold hulled and ready-to-eat as a health food too.
When it comes to eating hemp seeds, they can be consumed raw, sprouted, or in powder form. Hemp is a natural plant protein with a full amino acid profile. They are high in fat – healthy fats – like many other seeds. They’re also loaded with vitamins and minerals. Hemp seeds fall into the super food category with ease, and they stand their ground!
HOW ARE THEY USED?
Hemp seeds are edible and have featured in numerous articles and studies for their nutritional benefits. They can be eaten raw just like regular seeds (like sunflower or chia seeds), crushed or ground into a fine meal, or pressed to make oil.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING HEMP SEEDS?
Eating hemp seeds has numerous benefits. Here are some of the main reasons you should consider incorporating them into your diet:
THEY ARE EXTREMELY NUTRITIOUS
As you probably saw in the nutritional profile above, hemp seeds are extremely nutritious.
They are exceptionally rich in healthy fats and fatty acids, especially linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).
Hemp seeds are also a great source of plant-based protein (over 25% of their total calorie count comes from high-quality protein) and amino acids like arginine (proven to have anti inflammatory properties), glutamic acid (shown to improve brain function and boost the metabolism), and many more.
Hemp seeds are also rich in vitamins E (a natural antioxidant) and B (important for cellular metabolism), calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
THEY MAY PREVENT HEART DISEASE
According to the World Health Organization, heart disease is the number 1 cause of death around the world.
Hemp seeds contain high concentrations of arginine, an amino acid shown to help dilate blood vessels and reduce hypertension, to important factors in preventing heart disease.
Hemp seeds are also particularly high in dietary fiber which is suggested to improve blood cholesterol levels and subsequently reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and type 2 diabetes, according to the American Heart Association.
Additionally, animal studies have shown that hemp seeds or hemp seed oil may decrease the risk of blood clot formationand help the heart recover after a heart attack.
THEY MAY REDUCE SYMPTOMS OF PMS AND/OR MENOPAUSE
Roughly 80% of women suffer from symptoms, both physical and emotional, caused by premenstrual syndrome. Research suggests that these symptoms are likely to be caused by heightened sensitivity to the hormone prolactin.
Hemp seeds are rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which, part of a group of fatty acids which have been shown to reduce the effects of prolactin and reduce the symptoms of PMS.
Studies have also shown that other dietary supplements rich in GLA, such as primrose oil, can help to reduce the symptoms of PMS, including breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability and fluid retention.
GLA is also believed to be useful in the treatment of menopause, with some studies suggesting it may regulate hormone imbalances and inflammation.
THEY MAY AID DIGESTION
Dietary fiber is very important for digestive health, and hemp seeds are a great source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.
Soluble fiber plays an important role in digestion, providing nutrients for digestive bacteria, while insoluble fiber helps to add mass to fecal matter and push waste through the gut.
However, it is important to note that the majority of the fiber in hemp seeds lies in the outer shell of the seed. Hence, de-hulled or shelled seeds contain very little fiber.
THEY MAY HELP TREAT SKIN DISORDERS
Hempseed oil is a rich and balanced source of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which play an important role in managing the body’s immune responses and skin conditions.
A 2005 study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment found that hemp seed oil significantly reduced the symptoms of atopic dermatitis by causing significant changes in plasma fatty acid profiles.
It may also relieve dry skin, improve itchiness and reduce the need for skin medication.
THEY MAY HELP REDUCE SYMPTOMS OF ARTHRITIS
Arthritis affects roughly 50 million adults across the globe. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 50% of people suffering from arthritis are unable to hold down a full-time job within 10 years of the onset of the disease.
Gamma linolenic acid, the same compound shown to treat PMS, has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
A 6 month study published in the journal of Arthritis and Rheumatism found that consuming the stand alone GLA found in hemp seeds reduced arthritis symptoms by 25% compared to the placebo at only 4%.
you can easily add hemp seeds to salads, smoothies, and yoghurt for a deliciously nutty nutrition boost. Like with most nuts and seeds, you can even make your own dairy-free milk from the seeds. You can even swap out your protein powder for a hemp protein powder which comes unflavoured or flavoured.
- Protein powder. Blend it into smoothies or use a flavoured blend in a blender bottle for a quick pre-gym or post-gym boost. Hemp protein is nearly as bioavailable as whey protein (the most bioavailable) and is both plant-based and paleo-friendly.
- Have them plain. It’s the least exciting option, but it definitely works. Hemp seeds are naturally quite palatable with a rich flavour and texture that resembles a creamy nut like cashew or macadamia. Have 2-4 tablespoons to boost fat, protein, and fibre
- Add them as a topping. Smoothie bowls and yoghurt bowls plus salads and other savoury dishes can stand a little hemp action. The nutty flavour pairs well with lots of foods.
- Use them in baked goods. Many baked goods can be tweaked to your liking. That’s where I love to see super foods hiding out! Use them in place of or in conjunction with other seeds or blend them into energy bars for seamless nutrition.