Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds come from the hemp plant, Cannibus sativa L. It is often confused with the marijuana plant of the same family, but hemp contains only trace amounts tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the mind altering compound found in marijuana. The nutritional benefits of hemp seeds were ignored for a long time due to their close resemblance to the marijuana plant. Hemp seeds will not, however, get you high but instead offer a huge punch of nutritional value. The “seeds”, also called hemp hearts, are actually achenes which are dry fruits inside a hard shell. You may have also heard of hemp being made into fabric, paper, fuel, or plastic. So what are some of the health benefits offered by hemp seeds?
Essential Fatty Acids
Your body is not able to make these fatty acids, so you have to get them from a food source. Hemp seeds are a great choice because they contain omega 3, 6, and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in perfect balance. These fatty acids help to reduce inflammation, can reduce your risk of heart disease, and lower your blood pressure. They may also play a role in memory and cognition. Hemp is high in GLA, and researchers have found that GLA supplementation is helpful for proper hormone health and they have been proven to naturally balance hormones.
A complete protein is one that contains all the essential amino acids and in large enough quantities. Other example of complete proteins include meat, eggs, poultry, and fish. Hemp is a suitable option for vegetarians or people who do not digest meat well, and they are one of the highest sources of protein of any plant based food. Meat can be high in saturated fat and hemp is not, so it is a great alternative.
Hemp seeds are high in soluble and insoluble fiber and can help keep your gastrointestinal tract regular. Many backpacker’s experience digestive upsets while hiking because they are consuming foods they normally would not eat at home and hemp seeds can help ease the discomfort. Hemp also feeds the good bacteria in your gut and encourages a healthy immune system.
High in Antioxidants
When oxidation occurs in the body healthy cells become damaged, causing diseases and disorders such as cancer, heart disease, Altzheimers, stroke, and more. Antioxidants are important because they can help protect the cells from this oxidation and damage. Hempseed oil, in particular, is a source high in antioxidants. If you do take hempseed oil backpacking with you, I suggest keeping it near a water bottle or your water reservoir. Since it is unsaturated, it is susceptible to going rancid if not kept refrigerated.
Healthy Hair, Skin, and Nails
Hemp is often used in high end beauty products like lotions, lip balms, and soap. It can really improve dry, flaky skin as it is able to get to the inner layer of skin and promote healthy cell growth. It has been proven helpful for people with skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. You can consume the seeds daily, or make a topical skin cream with hemp seed oil and shea butter.
Hemp Seed Nutrition Profile
Research has shown hemp seeds to be an excellent source of nutrition. They are high in minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. Hemp offers a balanced 3:1 ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which promotes heart health. Its a complete protein and also high in GLA, the hormone balancing fatty acid.
One ounce of hemp seeds contains:
- 161 calories
- 12.3 g fat
- 9.2 g protein
- 3.3 g carbohydrates
- 2 g dietary fiber
- 15.4 mg vitamin E (77% Daily Value)
- 3.9 mg iron (22% DV)
- 300 mg magnesium (75% DV)
- 405 mg phosphorus (41% DV)
- 5 mg zinc (34% DV)
- 2.8 mg manganese (140% DV)
- 0.1 mg copper (7% DV)
Ways to Consume hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are easy to take backpacking because they do not need to be refrigerated, can be eaten raw, and can be added to just about any meal for some extra nutrients. While backpacking, I like to mix them with oatmeal, couscous, rice, soup, beans, and nut butters. At home, I typically just add them to my morning smoothie or sprinkle into salads.
Hemp seeds are also available in nut butter form and you can use it just as you would any other nut butter. This is easy to do while backpacking and is a good alternative for someone with a nut allergy. You can also try hemp protein powder or hemp milk. Hemp oil is best used for drizzling on foods, rather than cooking with.
What to Look for When Buying
Look for organic, shelled hemp seeds or hearts when buying. You typically will not find hemp seeds at a regular grocery store, but instead will need to look at health food or organic grocery stores. You will get a better deal buying online. The nice thing about buying on Amazon is that you have a variety of choices for brands and if you are a Prime member you get free shipping.
Canada is known to grow the best quality hemp seeds. The strain of hemp that Canadian farmers use seems to have a better taste and the Canadian government ensures that all hemp seeds from Canada are non GMO verified and pesticide free. Amazon has the most cost competitive prices.
Recommended Best Hemp Seeds Brands on Amazon
- Canada Hemp Seed Food Organic Hemp Seed Hearts $18.29/lb
- Navitas Organics Raw Hemp Seeds $15.81/lb
- Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Hearts $18.50/lb
- Gerbs Raw Hemp Seed Kernels $10.00/lb
- Nutiva Organic Hemp Seeds $12.64/lb
Do you eat hemp? If so, I’d love to hear how you use this mighty superfood! Leave a comment below and please let me know if you have any questions.