Why Are Hemp Seeds Good for Me?
Why The Health Is This Good For Me?
By Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN
What They Are
Hemp seeds — sometimes called “hemp hearts” — are sprinkled on foods, pressed for oil, ground into protein powder and made into milk. Afraid of psychotropic side effects? Don’t be. While these small, pale-beige to dark-brown seeds form the edible part of the hemp plant (aka pot, ganja, weed, grass, Mary Jane, doobage), they don’t contain THC, the active drug found in hemp leaf.
Since hemp is considered a controlled substance and is not legal to grow in the United States, most of the hemp we find comes from Canada. The plant grows. well, like a weed. So it requires little to no pesticide or herbicide, which makes buying organic less important.
The Dirty Deets
Two tablespoons of hemp seed serve up 90 calories and six grams of fat. Watching what you eat? I say, “Keep sprinkling!” That two-tablespoon serving size offers two grams of fiber, five grams of protein, 300 mg of potassium, 15 percent of your vitamin-A requirement and 25 percent of your daily iron needs. ItвЂ™s hard to find another food that nutrient-dense.
- Hemp has a unique fatty-acid profile that includes common omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, plus less common stearidonic (SDA) and gamma linoleic (GLA) acids. These fatty acids fight inflammation and protect your heart and immune system.
- Hemp milk, rich in the above fatty acids, is a great source of protein and calcium — and tastes pretty good, too. Commercial varieties contain fillers and sweeteners, so you may wish to make your own by tossing hemp seeds and water in a blender and straining the mixture through cheesecloth.
- Hemp makes a great vegan protein powder, high in fiber and lacking in fillers (it’s simply milled hemp seeds). While the powder is not a complete protein, itвЂ™s pretty close to perfect in my book.
How To Chow Down
Sprinkle hemp seeds on salads, yogurt or oatmeal, or over rice or veggies. The seeds have a mild flavor, so youвЂ™ll mostly notice the crunch. Use hemp oil in low-heat cooking or salad dressings. Hemp milk and protein powder work as easily in cereal as they do in smoothies.
- Love yourself some dip? Obsess over this one: Hemp-and-chia guacamole is perhaps one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. Try it with bell pepper or jicama slices — you wonвЂ™t even miss the chips.
- Once you become a fan, invest in a hemp cookbook to find everything from smoothie to dessert recipes. YouвЂ™ll be yummily hempinвЂ™ it in at breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacktime.
In The Know
A seed revolution is occuring in our midst. Hemp, chia, flax and canary seeds are excellent, nutrient-rich choices. Since these seeds can be costly and expire quickly (most, like hemp, are best stored in the refrigerator), buy a small bag of one seed and, when finished, switch it up. Each seed has a unique nutritional profile, so enjoy the variety and keep ’em moving by spoon, fork or straw!
Hemp seeds add crunch and nutrition to many dishes. Don’t worry, no THC.
Hemp Seeds: Are They Good for You?
In this Article
In this Article
In this Article
- Nutrition Information
- Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
- Potential Risks of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are a rich source of nutrients. Part of the hemp plant, these seeds are technically a nut that can be eaten raw or used to make milk, oil, cheese substitutes, or protein powder.В
While related to the cannabis plant, hemp seeds have little to none of the psychoactive compound THC found in marijuana. For centuries the seeds have been used for oral and topical applications to treat and prevent certain health issues. A growing body of modern clinical research is backing up many of these claims.В
Hemp seedsвЂ™ nutty flavor and versatility also make them a great substitute for the levels of protein, essential fatty acids, and other nutritional benefits found in meat and dairy products.
Hemp seeds can be:
- Eaten raw, roasted, or cooked
- Shelled as hemp hearts
- Cold-pressed to produce hemp seed oil
- Used for non-dairy hemp milk and hemp cheese
A 30 gram serving (three-tablespoons) of raw hemp seeds contains:
- Calories: 166
- Protein: 9.47 grams
- Fat: 14.6 grams
- Carbohydrates: 2.6 grams
- Fiber: 1.2 grams
- Sugar: 0.45 grams
Hemp seeds are also good source of:В
Hemp seeds also contain high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.В
Studies have shown that the ideal ratio for the fatty acids in hemp seeds is 3 to 1. At this ratio, these fatty acids help to support healthy cholesterol levels, immune system function, and may help regulate your metabolism.
Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of plant-based protein. They contain all nine essential amino acids, and research suggests that hempвЂ™s protein content is well-absorbed by our bodies.
In addition to this protein load, hemp seeds history is tied to their potential health benefits. Many modern studies have backed up several of these claims.В
Hemp seedsвЂ™ health benefits include:В
Hemp seeds are a great source of magnesium, which helps regulate your heartbeat and is linked to the prevention of coronary heart disease. They also contain Linoleic acid, which one study found reduced participantsвЂ™ cholesterol levels by 15% and may act to reduce blood pressure.
One of the omega-6 fatty acids in hemp seeds is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA,) which may have anti-inflammatory effects similar to drugs like ibuprofen. One study found a 75% reduction in arthritis-associated pain in participants after nine months of GLA supplementation.
Hemp oil can be used in cooking to add nutritional benefits to your meal, and it can also be applied topically to the skin. Studies have found that hemp seed oil can relieve the symptoms of eczema and improve dry or itchy skin.
Research is ongoing, but hemp seed oilвЂ™s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects may also help to treat acne.
The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in hemp seeds is the optimal level for nutritional benefit. This balance supports both heart and cognitive health and is often lacking in most diets..
Hemp seeds also contain plant compounds called terpenes. While research is ongoing, studies suggest that terpenes may help protect the brain and prevent tumor growth.
Potential Risks of Hemp Seeds
While the fat content in hemp seeds comes primarily from its healthy essential fatty acids, eat them in moderation to meet your recommended daily consumption of fat. High fat intake can also cause nausea or diarrhea. В
Other things to consider before adding hemp seeds to your diet include:В
Hemp seeds may interact with certain medications including anticoagulants.В
Studies have shown that hemp seeds reduce blood clotting, which can interact with blood-thinner prescriptions.
There is not enough clinical research to show that hemp is safe either orally or topically for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, so it is not recommended.В
Hemp seed shells can contain trace amounts of THC, the active psychoactive compound in marijuana. People with a previous dependence on cannabis may consider looking for an alternative.В
The fiber content in hemp seeds can cause digestive discomfort like bloating, nausea, or constipation in large amounts. Make sure to drink plenty of water when eating hemp seeds to help avoid gut problems.В
Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. вЂњCannabis sativa (Hemp) Seeds, О”9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, and Potential Overdose.вЂќ
Biochemical Education: вЂњThe action of vitamin K and coumarin anticoagulants.вЂќ
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: “Evaluating the Quality of Protein From Hemp Seed (Cannabis sativa L.) Products Through the Use of the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score Method.вЂќ
Journal of Dermatological Treatment: вЂњEfficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis.вЂќ
Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostatis: вЂњDietary hempseed reduces platelet aggregation.вЂќ
Oilseeds and fats, Crops and Lipids:вЂњA short review on sources and health benefits of GLA, The GOOD omega-6.вЂќ
Mayo Clinic. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet.вЂќ
Nutrients: вЂњDietary Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review with Emphasis in Epidemiological Studies.вЂќ
Nutrition & Metabolism: вЂњThe cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed.вЂќ
Plant Science: вЂњTerpenes in Cannabis sativa вЂ“ From plant genome to humans.вЂќВ
PLOS One: вЂњThe ameliorative effect of hemp seed hexane extracts on the Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation and lipogenesis in sebocytes.вЂќ>
The British Medical Journal (BMJ): вЂњThe importance of a balanced П‰-6 to П‰-3 ratio in the prevention and management of obesity.вЂќ
The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behaviour Letter: вЂњFDA on CBD in pregnancy and breastfeedingвЂќ
USDA FoodData Central: вЂњSeeds, hemp seed, hulled.вЂќ
Find out what the research says about hemp seeds, who should have them, and how they may affect your health.