Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, now hemp seeds?
Although hemp seeds are not new to existence, their use has gained popularity relative to their health benefits.
Find out the nutritional value and benefits of hemp seeds, along with how to use them!
What Is Hemp?
Hemp comes from the cannabis species plant, or Cannabis sativa L specifically. Marijuana does, too, which often causes confusion about the plant.
While both hemp and marijuana come from the cannabis species, they are vastly different. This includes in regards to their genetics, THC contents, cultivation practices, and legalities. However, growing hemp in the United States is still mostly illegal. Hemp products, though, are imported into the U.S.
But rest assured, using hemp products and seeds will not produce psychoactive consequences. Since the amount of THC is so trivial, detecting it in urine is like "finding a needle in a haystack."
Hemp is grown for raw materials that can be added to numerous products. The plant produces the seeds, also known as hemp hearts. They can be turned into hemp oil, milk, protein powder, and other food products.
Using hemp seed in culinary use is common and may lead to a number of health benefits.
Hemp Seeds Benefits
The research regarding hemp seeds benefits may be new, but is evolving and compelling.
1. Hemp seeds offer a rich nutrient profile.
Hemps seeds nutrition profile is responsible for the health benefits they are known to provide.
The USDA National Nutrient Database indicates 2 tablespoons (20 grams) of hemp seeds supplies:
• 111 calories
• 6.31 grams (g) protein
• 9.75 g fat
• 1.73 g carbohydrate
• 0.8 g dietary fiber
The seed is a great source of healthy fats, including omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Three tablespoons provide about 10 grams of omega-3 and 6's. This is 10 times more than the advice given to people with heart disease at 1 gram of fish oil. They are also considered to be a complete protein that contains all essential amino acids.
Hemp is also a good source of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc.
2. Hemp seeds are a valuable vegetarian option.
Vegetarian and vegan diets reduce or fully eliminate products derived from animals. This opens the risk of nutritional deficiencies without proper supplementation.
A common concern when reducing animal meat is protein intake. But plants, including hemp seeds, can supply the macronutrient.
The seed and oil are also one of the few plant-based proteins offering all essential amino acids. The body cannot produce these amino acids, thus obtaining them through diet is essential.
3. Hemp seeds are heart-healthy.
Hemp seeds are considered to be a heart-healthy food product based on a number of nutrients and compounds they provide.
First off, the seed contains those "healthy" fats we keep hearing about. Specifically, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. The fiber content can also improve cholesterol levels, in turn lowering heart disease risk.
The seed supplies the amino acid arginine, which helps produce nitric oxide a respected vasodilator. When the blood vessels are dilated, blood pressure is subsequently reduced. Controlled blood pressure levels largely lessen the likelihood of heart attack, congestive heart failure, and stroke.
4. Hemp seeds may help boost the immune system.
The immune system is the body's defense against infectious organisms and other harmful invaders. A strong immune system ultimately keeps the body healthy and free of disease.
Hemp seeds are rich in globulin, an important protein to synthesize antibodies. The presence of antibodies in the blood helps the body fight against infection.
5. Hemp seeds can protect the body from disease.
The seeds contain powerful antioxidants, especially in the form of fatty acids and plant compounds. Antioxidants are chemicals that fight against damaging molecules and may prevent or delay cell damage. Preventing cell damage can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other diseases.
What's more, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids ranges from 20-30:1 in Western societies. This is compared to a traditional range of 1-2:1.
The greater intake of omega-6 fatty acids is linked to a slew of chronic diseases. These include coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, and cancer.
6. Hemp seeds may help manage diabetes.
Diabetes is when the body is unable to use glucose as energy following carb intake. This is mostly related to the absence or resistance of insulin.
Weight loss and diet are helpful in managing diabetes. And for those with type 2 diabetes, or even at risk for diabetes, the seed can help control blood glucose levels.
7. Hemp seeds can promote good digestion.
Digestion can be impacted by a number of factors, diet included.
Hemp seeds contain adequate amounts of dietary fiber. Fiber plays a role in not only heart health but can keep the digestive working sufficiently and improve bowel regularity.
Fiber may reduce the risk of developing diseases of the colon, hemorrhoids, and colorectal cancer as well.
How to Use Hemp Seeds
Needing a little hemp seed creativity? Find inspiration in these delicious and unique ways to enjoy the seed!
8. Throw In Salads
Salads can be misperceiving. Because while they may look healthy, toppings can throw up their nutritious integrity.
So skip out on those fried croutons and replace with hemp seeds for those essential fatty acids. They also offer a desirable crunch and nutty flavor.
9. Make Pesto Sauce
Traditional pesto sauces are created with pine nuts. But to increase the protein content of pesto, swap out pine nuts for hemp seeds.
Top whole grain noodles, chicken, and vegetables with this protein-packed pesto sauce.
10. Add to Homemade Granola
Make homemade granola with hemp hearts to drastically cut out unwanted sugars and oils often found in prepackaged bags.
The recipe can be adjusted to liking as well. For instance, feel free to use other favorite nuts and seeds. Use the granola to top oatmeal or Greek yogurt.
11. Sprinkle Over Cereal
Amplify the protein and crunch of cereal with the seed. The nutty flavor complements and accelerates a crunchy, hearty bowl of whole grain cereal.
12. Prepare Seedy Bananas
For a naturally sweet snack packed with protein, roll a peeled banana in your favorite nut butter. Then, add crunch by sprinkling the seeds onto the bananas.
13. Enjoy In Healthified Cookies
Have a cookie sweet tooth? Fill that craving and avoid unwanted calories with these hemp cookies rich in protein and flavor.
14. Blend Into Smoothies
Smoothies are excellent canvases to embrace protein and nutrients, including from hemp seeds.
Since they are slightly nutty in flavor, bananas are an excellent pairing option! However, let those creative juices flow!
15. Eat Straight From the Bag
Hemp seed alone is a superior well-balanced snack. For a convenient snack, keep a bag of the seeds in the work drawer or car.
Pierce G, Rodriguez-Levya D. The cardiac and haemostatic effects of hempseed. Nutrition & Metabolism.