Due to their rich and wonderfully balanced nutritional profile, hemp seeds are thought to be one of the healthiest foods you can add into your diet. Studies have shown that on top of being nutritious, hemp seeds appear to have many benefits for your heart, skin, joints, and more. Wondering just how good hemp seeds are for you? Read on to discover what makes the healthy hemp seed so special.
Hemp Seed Nutritional Info
Hemp seeds may be tiny, but they’re nutritional powerhouses. Let’s go over the four most impressive nutritional elements of hemp seeds.
Packed With Protein
Hemp seeds are absolutely packed with protein, offering almost as much protein as soybeans. Just three tablespoons of hemp seeds contains a whopping 9.46 grams of protein. Hemp seeds also contain all nine essential amino acids. This makes hemp seeds a complete protein, which is a rare feat among plants.
Rich in Healthy Fat
While dietary fat is something that used to be demonized, we now know that certain fats are incredibly healthy. The healthy fats known as essential fatty acids are particularly important to incorporate into one’s diet, since the body can’t produce essential fatty acids on its own.
Hemp seeds are a great source of essential fatty acids, offering up healthy servings of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Hemp seeds are particularly rich in linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (LNA), and are also high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid (SDA).
On top of being an excellent source of these essential fatty acids, hemp seeds have a particularly good omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Studies have shown that an omega-3 to omega-9 ratio that’s between 1:1 and 1:4 offers the most health benefits. Studies have also shown that most Americans are far away from this ratio, more around the 1:15 range. Eating more hemp seeds could help Americans bring this ratio down, however, since hemp seeds feature a perfect 1:3 ratio.
Hemp seeds are a good source of dietary fiber– even without their highly fibrous shells. Three tablespoons of shelled hemp seeds contain 1.2 g of fiber, so adding more hemp seeds into your diet (whether whole or shelled) can help you get closer to hitting your daily fiber goal.
Loaded With Vitamins and Minerals
Hemp seeds contain an impressive amount of vitamins and minerals. They’re particularly rich in vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Hemp seeds are also a fantastic source of iron, calcium, zinc, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin B-6, and folate.
The Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Thanks to its exceptional nutritional profile, hemp seeds are thought to have many health benefits, including benefits for the brain, the heart, the skin, the digestive system, and more.
The current research on omega-3 fatty acids suggests that they’re extraordinarily heart healthy. It’s thought that eating more omega-3 fatty acids may improve cardiovascular health overall, while also reducing the risk of heart disease and arrhythmia. Hemp seeds are an excellent source of omega-3s, which means they could boost heart health, especially because they also have a healthy ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s.
In addition to being rich in omega-3s, hemp seeds are a great source of other heart healthy nutrients. Hemp seeds contain the amino acid arginine, which the body turns into nitric oxide, a molecule that’s important for blood vessel dilation. Hemp seeds are also rich in magnesium, which helps to regulate the heartbeat, and linoleic acid, which may reduce both blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid that’s found in both hemp plants and marijuana plants, is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. CBD’s effect on inflammation has been a focus of much cannabinoid research and, while we don’t yet know why, numerous studies have found that CBD reduces inflammation in the body.
Hemp seeds may contain little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants, but they do contain plenty of inflammation-fighting CBD. Because hemp seeds are so rich in cannabidiol, some theorize that hemp seeds are also anti-inflammatory. One of the omega-6 fatty acids found in hemp seeds, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), is also thought to be anti-inflammatory, giving more credence to the idea that hemp seeds may help fight inflammation.
Potential Neuroprotective Effects
Because of their CBD content, hemp seeds are thought to have potential neuroprotective effects. A 2018 review found that the CBD and other compounds in hemp seeds may be neuroprotective. This review also suggested that the CBD in hemp seeds may help ease certain neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Potential Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief
A study from 2014 suggested that hemp seed oil may have anti-rheumatic effects. This has led some scientists to theorize that hemp seeds could help relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition that causes joint inflammation. While more research is needed, the potential anti-rheumatic effects of hemp seeds is a promising development in hemp research.
Hemp seeds contain several compounds that may ease acne skin conditions. Since acne is an inflammatory condition, it’s thought that potentially anti-inflammatory compounds like CBD can help calm breakouts. Eating more omega-3s is also thought to be beneficial for clearing acne, since studies have found a link between omega-3 deficiencies and acne. Another thing that’s thought to help manage the symptoms of acne is fiber. Since hemp seeds contain CBD, omega-3s, and fiber, some theorize that they may be able to help decrease acne skin conditions.
Improved Digestive Health
Whole hemp seeds are very high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which are crucial for good digestive health. So if you’re looking to increase the amount of fiber in your diet, eating hemp seeds with their shells (either whole or ground) can offer a serious boost.
How to Incorporate More Hemp Seeds Into Your Diet
You’ll find hemp seeds in several forms on supermarket and health food store shelves. Your options include whole hemp seeds, shelled hemp seeds (also called hemp hearts), split hemp seeds and ground hemp seeds. With so many forms, hemp seeds can play a variety of different roles in your recipes. Wondering how you can incorporate these versatile seeds into your diet? Try one of these ideas:
- Sprinkle shelled hemp seeds on yogurt, cereal, salads, or smoothie bowls.
- Mix whole hemp seeds into pancake batter to add nutrition and crunch.
- Add shelled hemp seeds or ground hemp seeds into your morning smoothie.
- Make your own hemp milk and use it as a dairy alternative.
- Use shelled hemp seeds as a substitute for breadcrumbs in breaded chicken or fish recipes.
- Grind up some hemp hearts (alone or with other healthy ingredients) to make your own DIY hemp protein powder.
- Incorporate hemp seeds into your soup or stew recipes to elevate their nutrient profiles.
- Swap out pine nuts for hemp seeds and make hemp pesto.
- Use hemp seeds to make homemade seeded bread.
- Toast your hemp seeds to increase their nuttiness and crunchiness, then use them to top salads or soups.
- Mix ground hemp seeds to your baked goods to add a hidden healthy boost.
The Recent Rise of Hemp Seeds
It’s only recently that hemp seeds have become a popular food here in the United States. In part, that’s because they were an imported good until just a few years ago. Before the 2018 Farm Bill made growing industrial hemp plants federally legal on U.S. soil, the hemp seeds sold in America had to be imported from other countries. Hemp seeds were legal in the United States, but hardly anyone could legally grow them (essentially, they could only be grown in small amounts for approved research purposes).
The 2018 Farm Bill made not just hemp seeds, but all hemp products more accessible in America. This includes, of course, hemp CBD products, which have practically taken the country by storm. The immense popularity of hemp-derived CBD has certainly made hemp more popular overall, while also making more people aware of the health benefits of hemp.
Another thing that has helped the popularity of hemp seeds in recent years is that more people now have a positive view of hemp. Though they’re just a food with no intoxicating qualities, hemp seeds were once weighed down by a bit of stigma due to their association with marijuana. However, now that hemp plants are federally legal, CBD is considered mainstream, and marijuana is far less stigmatized than it once once, hemp seeds no longer have a major P.R. problem. It’s normal– and actually trendy– to eat hemp seeds today.
Final Thoughts: Are Hemp Seeds Good For You?
Overall, hemp seeds appear to be one of the most super of the superfoods. They’re rich in healthy fats, minerals, and high quality protein, and they’re thought to have many health benefits. If you’re looking to add a healthy boost to your balanced diet, hemp seeds may be just what you’re looking for.