Hemp is a super plant with many applications, but it’s seeds are also a superfood. Packed full of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, there are few other foods which rival tiny little hemp seeds regarding healing power.
Unlike other superfoods (we are looking at you spirulina!) hemp seeds are very delicious, with a subtle nutty flavor. They go well in sweet and savory foods, adding a satisfying crunchy texture to many different dishes. They are living proof that a superfood, can also be a delicious one.
But you shouldn’t just take our word for it. There is a substantial body of research into hemp seeds nutritional value. Everyone, even laboratory researchers, are into the benefits of hemp seeds these days. You should be too! Whether you are a professional athlete looking for a plant-based source of protein or a stay at home mom wanting to sneak a little more nutrition into the meals for your kids. Just like apples, a spoonful a day can help keep the doctor away.
We’ve sorted through the research to compile the top 10 science-backed benefits of hemp seeds.
1. Hemp Seeds are High in Fibre
Fiber makes the world go round, at least when we are talking about your digestion. Fiber is the cellulose structure commonly found in plants. It helps your digestive tract flow smoothly from start to finish. Low fiber foods are often highly processed junk foods.
High fiber foods are natural, plant-based and less processed. If you don’t get enough fiber in your diet, you can start to have irregular bowel movements, constipation, and discomfort.
Thankfully, hemp is a tiny little seed with tons of fiber. Hemp seeds are nearly 30 percent fiber. If you bake with hemp seed flour, it’s up to 42 percent fiber. A handful of hemp helps you reach your required daily fiber intake, which is 28 grams for women and 34 grams for men. Hemp seeds, no matter their form, up the soluble fiber content of any food you sprinkle them on.
2. Hemp Seeds Could Improve Heart Health
When used as part of a well-balanced diet, hemp seeds are useful for keeping your heart health in check. How? Because hemp contains the correct ratios of omega-3’s and omega-6 fatty acids. A diet containing the proper proportions of these two powerful compounds is linked to lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
On top of the fatty acids, it also contains an amino acid linked to heart health. When we consume the amino acid called arginine, our bodies turn it into nitric oxide. This little compound keeps the vessels of heart dilated. They also help support our blood vessels in tip-top form.
3. Hemp Seeds Contain 100% of Your Daily Manganese
Manganese is a little-known trace element that doesn’t get as much attention as calcium and iron. But, it is nevertheless essential to human health, even if you need a tiny amount of it in your diet. Adults may require as little as 2.3 mg a day, which you can get with one small serving of hemp seeds. That’s only a tablespoon stirred into your oatmeal or sprinkled into your pancakes each morning.
Your body uses manganese for two essential purposes, to grow and to develop new cells. Your body stores this mineral in your cell’s mitochondria, which are the cell’s little power plants. One aspect of this mineral, called manganese superoxide dismutase, is also a powerful antioxidant.
4. Hemp Seeds are High in Protein
Vegans and vegetarians love hemp seeds because they are a valuable source of plant-based protein. They are also one of the few plant-based sources which have a complete protein profile. For people on an animal-free diet, it’s often hard to get the right levels of the nine essential amino acids required. Hemp seeds have all nine for a total of 25 percent protein. That is more than dairy and beans combined.
Hemp makes such a potent protein supplement, its one of the best sports protein supplements out there. As a vegan or vegetarian, who can use traditional protein powders which use dairy and egg proteins, hemp is a complete plant-based alternative.
5. Hemp Seeds are High in Good Healthy Fats
Fat is back! Long demonized because people assumed fat made you fat, nutritionists now understand there are two different types of fat, good and bad. The good fats are critical to human health. Hemps seeds are 30 percent oil, making them 30 percent good fats. Good fats are unsaturated fats, including both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.
Hemp oil, produced from cold-pressing the seeds, is 80 percent polyunsaturated. Healthy fats like hemp seeds, coconut oil, avocado and olive oil, all work together to promote heart health.
A diet containing polyunsaturated fats, like the fat found in hemp, is essential for reducing blood pressure and lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke. These fats are beneficial to human health right down to your cells. They help boost healthy cell function.
6. Hemp Seeds May Help Reduce Symptoms of MenoPause
Women going through menopause have difficulty sleeping, breast tenderness, weight changes, mood changes and of course, hot flashes. It is a profoundly uncomfortable time, but one which all women eventually go through. The full transition of menopause can last for up to a decade.
Hemp seeds may be beneficial for treating the many uncomfortable signs of menopause because of their gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) content. A recent study exploring one and two gram GLA supplements throughout six months discovered substantial improvements to the symptoms of menopause. This was compared to the placebo group, which reported improvements only within the first three months, but not for the full six months. The results suggest that a daily supplement of hemp seed extract, or a handful of straight hemp seeds, might help reduce some of the most challenging symptoms of menopause.
7. Hemp Seeds Improve Digestion
Hemp protein is some of the easiest protein to digest. It’s part of the reason why vegans love it. But it isn’t just easy to digest, it works hard to improve digestion. With 80 percent soluble and 20 percent insoluble fiber, it’s going to make your bowels much more regular. Soluble fiber, like the kind sourced from hemp seeds, create a protective and lubricating layer throughout your entire digestive tract. This layer helps smoothly move food from one end to another, and it also helps your body to absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat. The higher the fiber intake in your diet, the more you are getting out of your diet.
If the fiber is what you are after, you’ll want to steer clear from hemp hearts. Instead, you’ll need to source whole-hull hemp seeds, because it’s the hull which contains all the essential properties.
8. Hemp Seeds Are Full of Magnesium
Magnesium is a mineral required for many biological functions, whether you know it or not. Hemp seeds are almost 10 percent magnesium, a substantial level for such a tiny seed. An adult male needs roughly 400 mg a day, and an adult female needs 320 mg a day. A few spoonfuls of hulled hemp in the morning starts the day off on the right foot with their high magnesium content.
Did you know that without getting the magnesium we need through our daily diet, the human body would fail? Your body wouldn’t properly regulate blood pressure. It would lose control over your blood sugar levels. It couldn’t synthesize any of the proteins you eat, and it would struggle to maintain proper muscle and nerve function. That’s not even the half of it. Without magnesium, even your DNA and RNA would begin to fail. If this hasn’t convinced you about the value of a little hemp seed nutrition, you’ve got a challenging future ahead of you.
9. Hemp Seeds May Protect the Brain
The human body can do a lot of amazing things, but it cannot naturally produce its own fatty acids. These must come from dietary sources, like hemp. There are two types of essential fatty acids crucial to a well-functioning and healthy brain, omega-3’s and omega 6’s.
Omega 3 fatty acids are so crucial for a healthy brain because they help protect cells and also are a building block of new brain cell development. Without omega 3’s your mind wouldn’t be able to keep learning, growing, and developing. Plus, as we age and our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases, omega 3 fatty acids protect us from neurological inflammation. So, this is a little seed with a lot of anti-inflammatory properties and cognitive support.
10. Hemp Seeds Might Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is either the root cause or a primary symptom of many diseases in the 21st century. Arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain, cancer, and more all have a component of inflammation involved. While supplementing your diet with hemp seed won’t cure these diseases, science shows the nutrients and oils in hemp seed may help reduce the lingering inflammation.
As mentioned above, hemp seed extract has shown promise for reducing neurological inflammation, as related to Alzheimer’s Disease, a type of dementia. In another study, this time on inflammation related to acne, a specialized hemp seed extract shows promise. Its anti-inflammatory properties reduced the visible signs and the underlying acne infection. With more research, we could be a topical preparation of hemp seed extract used to treat certain types of acne.
How to Eat Hemp Seeds
There are two types of hemp seeds found on supermarket shelves: hulled and whole-hull hemp seeds. Much of hemp seeds’ nutrition, mainly the fiber, is mostly found in the hull. But the hull makes it harder to eat. Usually, seeds with the shells still on are combined and cooked with other ingredients. Hulled hemp seeds, also called hemp hearts, can be eaten like other seeds and nuts.
If the fatty acids and oils are what you are after, look for cold-pressed hemp seed oil. Use it in cooking, or as a dietary supplement. Do not fry with it, as it burns quickly.
Here are a few suggestions on how to eat hemp seeds:
- Make a superfood mix of pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and more to sprinkle on your granola or oatmeal every morning.
- Add two tablespoons of seeds or a shot of hemp seed oil into a smoothie
- Sprinkle hemp seeds over a salad for an interesting nutty texture.
- Finish a tray of roast potatoes or roasted squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a handful of hemp hearts.
To reap many of the benefits of hemp seeds, it takes only a spoonful or two a day. Breakfast is by far the easiest meal to incorporate these little healthy seeds into, but once you start exploring you’ll see how easy it is to work into lunches, dinners, and desserts. Hemp seeds are a vital superfood and are part of a well-balanced diet to support heart, brain, and digestive health.