Among the most beneficial superfoods there is, hemp seed is a powerful seed full of many nutrients with the potential to help relieve symptoms of a variety of ailments.
One of the lesser known seeds, hemp seed–sometimes called hemp heart–has quickly become a valuable alternative to dairy based products for many who follow the vegan diet.
With many uses and almost as many nutrients, hemp seed is great to add to any diet. Keep reading to find out what benefits this superfood has in store, including:
- The nutrients found in hemp seed
- Hemp seed and brain health
- Hemp seed and cardiovascular health
- Hemp seed and digestion
- Ways to add hemp seed to your diet
What nutrients does hemp seed contain?
Hemp seeds are full of lots of essential nutrients and are a great addition to all diets.
Packed with nutrients and fiber, hemp seeds are a superfood, meaning they are full of many essential nutrients that the body needs to function. They are high in antioxidants and have the potential to help relieve symptoms of many ailments.
Many of the nutrients of hemp seeds include:
- Unsaturated fats
Though hemp seeds are small, they are packed with lots of protein. 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain nearly 10 grams of protein and all nine essential amino acids meaning they can be a complete source of protein.
Due to this high amount of protein, hemp seeds are great for vegan and vegetarian diets that may not receive as much healthy proteins as other diets. Hemp milk and hemp cheese have become popular vegan alternatives to their dairy counterparts, allowing those who prefer a vegan diet to get the recommended amount of protein from plants.
Like many other nuts and seeds, hemp seeds are also extremely high in unsaturated fats such as omega-3s and omega-6s. While many people tend to have too many omega-6s and too few omega-3s, hemp seeds can be helpful with balancing out these proportions.
Getting the recommended amount of healthy saturated fats can help to improve cholesterol levels, immune system function, and metabolism.
While hemp seeds are high in healthy fats, it is important to eat them in moderation. Eating too many fats of any kind can lead to nausea or diarrhea.
Hemp seeds are extremely high in antioxidants, a chemical compound that helps to fight against free radicals and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can increase your risk of chronic heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and dementia.
Like all other seeds and nuts, hemp seeds are a great source of fiber. Most of the fiber is stored in the shell so it is recommended that you try to find hemp seed with the hull still intact. However, even without the shell, hemp seeds can still add fiber to your diet. Adding them to a salad is a great way to make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet.
The recommended amount of fiber per day is about 28 grams. Getting enough fiber in your diet can help with many things including;
- Promoting gut health and digestion
- Stabilizing blood sugar levels
- Managing weight loss
Hemp seed and brain health
While hemp seeds are in the same family as cannabis and share some medicinal qualities as the marijuana plant, they do not have any psychoactive effects on those who eat them. Despite the lack of mind-altering capabilities, hemp seeds have many beneficial qualities that may help with neurological disorders. 70% of Americans use cannabis to feel relief/pain-free and relaxed, and while hemp seeds, belonging to the same family as cannabis, lack psychoactive effects, they are recognized for their potential to contribute positively to neurological disorders due to their medicinal properties.
Studies suggest that hemp seed may have some neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory qualities due to it’s antioxidative properties and low levels of CBD. These properties may help to relieve symptoms of such neurological disorders as:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
Hemp seed is also rich in the chemical compound, gamma-linolenic acid, a hormone-like compound that can help to control inflammation and body temperature and other essential bodily functions. Foods rich in GLA, such as hemp seed, have been shown to help people struggling with things like:
- Diabetes and diabetic neuropathy
- Premenstrual syndrome
Hemp seed and cardiovascular health
In recent years the many benefits of omega-3 fatty acids have been researched more and more. A healthy ratio of omega-3s has been shown to help with such things as heart disease and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Not only full of omega-3s, hemp seed also contains magnesium which has been shown to help prevent coronary heart disease.
Hemp seed also contains the amino acid, arginine, which turns into nitric oxide upon digestion. Nitric oxide is essential for the dilation of arteries and veins, allowing for the vessel walls to remain smooth and elastic.
Hemp seed and digestion
Like many plant-based foods, hemp seeds are incredibly high in fiber and naturally aid in digestion. There are two types of fiber that help with digestion and both are contained in hemp seed.
The first type of fiber is digestible fiber, or soluble fiber, and is processed like any other food. However, soluble fiber takes longer to be digested, allowing the body to process food slowly and may help to lower cholesterol.
The second type of fiber (and likely the one that you're more familiar with) is indigestible fiber, or insoluble fiber. This is fiber that cannot be digested fully by the digestive tract and helps to clean out other food as it goes through the digestive system.
While you can get both kinds of fiber from hemp seeds, in order to get all the benefits of this fibrous seed, you will want to look for the whole seed, as most of the fiber is stored in the shell.
Ways to add hemp seed to your diet
There are many ways to add hemp seed to your diet. Whether you buy the whole seed and cook it or eat it raw, or use derivatives of the seed such as hemp milk or hemp oil, you are sure to get lots of nutrients from any product containing these seeds.
Hemp seed can also be great on salads, dessert, or even baked into cookies with other nuts. They can also be a great addition to smoothies or as a nutritious afternoon snack.
No matter how you incorporate hemp seeds into your diet, they’re sure to bring lots of benefits! Just remember to keep it in moderation and follow the recommended daily intake to get all the benefits without any potential side effects.