9 Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are nutrient-dense foods. They contain array of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are essential for health (see more Hemp Nutrition). They are excellent source of protein and polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are ‘healthy’ fats that are essential for health and that are important for blood clotting, inflammation, muscle movement, cell membrane structure, covering nerves, etc. Interestingly, hemp seeds contain more polyunsaturated fats than other seeds such as flax, sesame, chia and sunflower seeds (for details, check out Polyunsaturated Fats in Hemp Seeds).
Hemp seeds are excellent source of vitamin B (B1, B2, B6) and vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc. They also contain vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A, selenium and manganese (see the food label above and diagrams below).
Tables Source: http://nutiva.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Hemp-Compositon-Chart1.pdf
Notably, not only the variety of nutrients found in hemp seeds offer an excellent nutritional benefit but also their composition. Carbohydrates in hemp seeds are ‘good’ carbohydrates. They are mainly composed of insoluble fiber which is essential to health and specifically important to a colon health. Proteins found in hemp seeds are high quality proteins (read more – benefit #4). Polyunsaturated fatty acids contain essential fatty acids (EFAs). Essential fatty acids are fats that are important for health but can’t be made by our bodies and must be obtained from food.
It is worth noting that despite the fact that hemp seeds are composed of fat, protein, carbohydrates, ash (minerals) and moisture, their structure varies between whole seeds and hulled seeds (seeds that have seed meat exposed). To learn more about how these seeds differ and how they are processed visit Hemp Seed Uses presented by NAIHC. (1, 2, 3, 5, 22)
Where to buy quality hemp seeds?
Blue Mountain Organics – Hemp Seeds, Organic, raw 5lb ($88.06), 8 oz ($9.19)
Blue Mountain Organics offers products that are carefully selected and uniquely crafted to provide nutrient-rich healthy snacks.
Amazon (highly rated)
Hemp seeds are not only rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids but also have an optimal ratio of omega-3/omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. (1) In particular, hemp seeds contain well-balanced proportion of linoleic acid (LA, omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, omega-3). Depending on a hemp seed variety, the ratio for omega-3/omega-6 is either 2:1 or 3:1 which “has been suggested to be ideal for a healthy diet”.
Several clinical studies had shown that the imbalance of omega-3/omega-6 fatty acid composition is a factor contributing to several disorders. A balanced intake, on the other hand, provides several health benefits including reduced risk of atherosclerosis, sudden cardiac death, and cancer, as well as alleviation of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and mood improvement in bipolar disorders. (1,2,3,4)
Read more: Monounsaturated Fat in Seeds
#3. Rich in fiber
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of fiber. Just a single serving, or 30 grams, contains 8.3 grams of fiber. According to www.foodinsight.org, foods that provide 4.9 grams of fiber in a standard serving are excellent source of fiber. Hemp seeds provide almost double of this amount.
Fiber offers array of health benefits. It is important for gastrointestinal health including normal laxation and constipation. It has been found to reduce risk of cancer, coronary heart disease, and type II diabetes. It was also found to aid in weight management.
Hemp seeds are source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Both of these fibers are important to a colon health. The insoluble fibers, unable to be digested, help food to keep moving smoothly through the digestive process. Soluble fibers help a colon to remain hydrated and aid in elimination of waste. A single serving of hemp seeds contain 1.6 gram of soluble fiber and 6.7 grams of insoluble fiber. (1,5,8,9,10,11)
#4. Rich in protein
Hemp seeds contain significant amounts of protein. Just a single serving of hulled hemp seeds equivalent to 30g provides approximately 10 grams of protein, or 20%DV (based on 2,000 calorie diet). Hemp seeds have more protein than other seeds such as sunflower, cumin, flax, pumpkin, sesame and chia seeds. See the table below for details.
Hemp seeds also contain high quality protein. The quality of protein is defined by how it is composed, that is by its amino acid content, and by its digestibility. (19) Protein found in hemp seeds is not only highly digestible but it also contains all amino acids necessary for humans. It consists of all 20 amino acids and all 9 essential amino acids, that is, amino acids that are necessary but our bodies are unable to produce (See More: Hemp seeds as a nutritional resource: An overview – Table 3). In addition, hemp seeds contain high amounts of arginine, that is, amino acids that have been recognized to play a pivotal role in the cardiovascular processes. (1,3,7,10,12,13,14,15,16)
Get Hemp Seeds (organic raw) from Blue Mountain Organics, a company that offers products carefully selected and uniquely crafted to provide nutrient-rich healthy snacks.
#5. Improve skin/hair/nails
Hemp seeds have shown to enhance skin, hair and nails health. Studies have shown that hemp-seed oil has alleviated skin problems. Improvements have been noted in both skin dryness and skin itchiness. One clinical study revealed usefulness of hemp seed oil in “healing mucosal skin wounds after eye, nose and throat surgery.” Improvements in stronger finger nails and thicker hair have been also noticed. (improvements in nail quality have been reported after 2–4 weeks, in nails 2–4 months, and hair 6–8 months when used modestly, that is 15–30 ml/day). It is believed that hemp seeds’ remarkable fatty acid profile is a root of these health benefits. (3, 17,18)
If you interested to make your own hemp products/cosmetics visit How To Make Hemp Body Cream.
#6. Rich source of GLA, the omega-6 that offers a numerous health benefits
Hemp seeds are rich and unusual source of GLAs (gamma linolenic acid). GLAs are omega-6 fatty acids that are essential for human health (that is, they are necessary but can’t be made and must be obtained from food). GLAs have been found to offer many health benefits. Research has suggested that they may reduce inflammation, high blood pressure, pain, swelling, morning stiffness. GLAs have been found to be effective in treating diabetic neuropathy (that is a loss of peripheral nerve function). They were shown to relief symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and even lessen the risk of osteoporosis (See More: Gamma-linolenic acid). Preliminary research even suggested that GLA protects DNA and it could be considered a novel anti-tumor agent in treating certain cancers like breast, prostate, ovarian and pancreatic carcinomas and human gliomas. (1, 20, 21)
#7. May help with arthritis and joint pain
Hemp seeds have shown promising effects in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory disorders. Hemp seeds are rich in GLA omega-6 fatty acids which are believed to be the root of these benefits. Several clinical studies have shown that GLAs help to reduce “joint pain, swelling and tenderness, and decreases the need for non-steroidal inflammatory drugs”. According to DrAxe.com, one 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%.” (7,20)
#8. Helps with hunger
Hemp seeds are nutritionally dense foods. (7) They are mainly composed of oils, protein and fiber (for details see Composition of Hemp Seed Table). They contain numerous minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron. They also contain numerous vitamins including vitamins E,C,B1,B2, B3, B6. (6) They are rich source of healthy fats such as polyunsaturated fats. One serving of hemp hulled seeds has over 11 grams of these fats. They provide more polyunsaturated fats than other seeds (see the comparison). They can naturally suppress appetite, sugar cravings and help to feel full longer. (7,19)
#9. Beneficial to cardiovascular health
Hemp seeds have shown to help with cardiovascular health. Studies had shown that hemp seeds can reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest and fatal cardiac arrhythmia. They can lower blood cholesterol levels and decrease “the cellular proliferation associated with atheroscierosis.” (6) It is believed that “the high content of omega-6 & omega-3 fatty acids and the relatively high phytosterol content of hemp make [hemp seeds] beneficial to cardiovascular health.” (6)
- Effect of Cannabis sativa L. Seed (Hempseed) on Serum Lipid and Protein Profiles of Rat
- The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed
NOTE: Discussed is hemp seed of Cannabis sativa L.
- Forberg, Cheryl. The Biggest Loser Complete Calorie Counter: The Quick and Easy Guide to Thousands of Foods from Grocery Stores and Popular Restaurants. New York: Rodale, 2006. Print.
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