Superfood: Hemp Health Benefits
Hemp seeds are the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.
They are from the same species as cannabis (marijuana).
However, hemp seeds contain only trace amounts of THC, the compound that causes the drug-like effects of marijuana.
Hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals.
Here are 6 health benefits of hemp seeds that are backed up by science.
1. Hemp Seeds Are Incredibly Nutritious
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts.
Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat. They are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).
They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has been linked with several health benefits (1).
Hemp seeds are a great protein source, as more than 25% of their total calories are from high-quality protein.
Hemp seeds can be consumed raw, cooked or roasted. Hemp seed oil is also very healthy, and has been used as a food/medicine in China for at least 3,000 years (1).
BOTTOM LINE:Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are also a great protein source and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
2. Hemp Seeds May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one killer worldwide (3).
Interestingly, eating hemp seeds may reduce the risk of heart disease via several mechanisms.
They contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which is used to produce nitric oxide in the body (4).
Nitric oxide is a gas molecule that makes the blood vessels dilate and relax, leading to lowered blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease (5).
Additionally, animal studies have shown that hemp seeds or hemp seed oil may reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of blood clot formation and help the heart recover after a heart attack (10, 11, 12).
BOTTOM LINE: Hemp seeds are a great source of arginine and gamma-linolenic acid, which have been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease.