Hemp is one of the world’s most versatile plants. Use of hemp dates back thousands of years and is seen everywhere from clothing to paper and even in building houses.
Packed with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants, hemp seeds offer a whole host of benefits when incorporated into our daily diets. Hemp seeds are the seeds that come from the cannabis sativa plant. Yes, traditional cannabis comes from the same source, however just like CBD oil, hemp seeds/oil have no psychoactive effects. This is because in the seeds and seed oil there is only a trace amount of THC.
Hemp seeds have become known as a superfood thanks to their dense nutritional profile which comes with tons of health benefits. Considering adding them into your diet? Here’s 5 main reasons why you should.
1. Rich in nutrients
Hemp seeds are nutritional powerhouses. Even though hemp seeds contain 30% fat, 80% of this fat is the ‘good’ kind – polyunsaturated fats. They’re rich in Omega 6 (linoleic acid) and Omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid). Because the body doesn’t produce these fats, we need to get both omega oils from external sources like the food we eat. GLA is a type of Omega 6 found in hemp seed oil which is linked to health benefits like improving arthritis and diabetes. (1)
They’re also full of Vitamin E. It’s known for balancing cholesterol and fighting ‘free radicals’. These can have negative effects on the body like breaking down our healthy cells, which can lead to heart disease and cancer. Because Vitamin E has powerful antioxidant properties, it can reduce this damage, lessening the effects of ageing in your cells and fighting inflammation. Vitamin E is also known for repairing skin damage, thickening hair and balancing hormones.
Other minerals they contain include: potassium, sodium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. (2)
2. Improved skin conditionAs we mentioned before, hemp seeds are a great source of essential fatty acids. In fact, they contain one of the best ratios of omega 6 to omega 3 found in nature. Their 3:1 profile is considered the optimal ratio for these kind of fats.
Studies have shown that hemp seed oil can help combat dry skin and improve itchiness. In addition, if you’re suffering with skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, hemp seed oil can improve blood levels of essential fatty acids which in turn improve skin condition. (3)
Hemp seed oil can be applied topically to skin as a natural moisturiser. A 2014 study found that as a result, this strengthens the skin and makes it more able to resist infections.
3. High protein levels
Hemp seeds contain tons of protein. More than 25% of their total calories come from protein alone. If you’re seeking a plant-based protein, this makes Hemp seed much more appealing than flax seed, for example, which contains around 15% protein. (4)
If you compare hemp seeds to beef by weight, the stats are surprisingly similar. 2-3 tablespoons of hemp seeds provides around 11 grams of plant based protein.
They are also one of the rare sources of plant protein containing all 20 amino acids. What’s even better is that this includes the 9 which our bodies cannot produce. Amino acids are the building blocks that create a complete source of protein and often it’s hard to find these complete in the plant world.
4. Aiding digestion
Our bodies find these seeds easy to digest. Protein from other plant sources like nuts, lentils and beans can sometimes be hard for the body to digest, possibly giving unwanted side effects like gas and bloating. (5)Hemp seeds are a great source of fibre. Fibre is essential to our diets and is linked to improved digestive health. Hemp seeds contain an 80/20 split of soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre delivers nutrients to all the good bacteria in your digestive system. It may also help to regulate blood sugar levels and cholesterol. On the other hand, insoluble fibre makes it easier for your body’s waste to pass through your digestive system. (6)
But something worth noting is that this fibre is found in whole hemp seeds. Shelled or de-hulled hemp seeds don’t contain the same levels of fibre. This is because the shell of the seed is where all the fibre lies.
5. Boosts heart health
Hemp seeds contain two key ingredients for a healthy heart: fibre and healthy fats. The GLA found in hemp seeds is linked to reduce inflammation in the body. A 2014 study found how this has potential to reduce the risk of heart disease.
As we spoke about before, hemp packs a punch when it comes to amino acids. Arginine is one amino acid in particular which is abundant in hemp seeds. It produces Nitric Oxide in the body and so has the potential to dilate your blood vessels and decrease hypertension (7, 8). This is also linked with decreased risk of heart disease and stroke. (9)
As you can see, hemp seeds are full of benefits. Because they’re so nutrient rich, hemp seeds are a worthy addition to your diet. These little powerhouses contain vital vitamins, protein, fiber and good fats that our bodies need for optimum health.
So whether you’re looking to improve the appearance of your skin, boost your heart health or simply add some whole plant based protein into your diet, hemp seeds are the superfood which definitely live up to their star status.