Since the 1930s, many people have been scared away from hemp seeds due to the fact they are related botanically to marijuana, a member of the cannabis family.
Most people are not even aware of the great nutritional benefits offered by hemp seed.
Hemp seeds are picking up popularity as one of the healthiest foods known to man. The most remarkable characteristic of hemp seeds is that they contain nine essential amino acids (EAAs) which are not naturally produced within the body. In addition, they are also a rich source of protein and have a natural balance between omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, which makes it a versatile, and highly nutritional supplement to a regular, balanced diet. It has many health benefits including preventing fatal diseases such as cancer, and minimizing the risk of developing incapacitating conditions such as osteoporosis. It also has an overall positive effect on gastrointestinal health, in that it can also cure constipation as well as diarrhea, owing to its high fiber content. It enables the body in producing healthy epidermal and dermal tissues, and balances hormones.
Hemp and cannabis are derived from the same plant but come from different parts of the plant.
Hemp is one of the first known and domesticated crops in the world. During the earliest days of human history, cannabis thrived near the temporary dwellings of our ancestors. Water nearby, wide open spaces, and well-fertilized soil gave aid to this “camp follower” crop which quickly became domesticated . For millennia, hemp was cultivated in Europe and Asia. At that point in time, most of its value was found in it being a source of fiber, as well as an oilseed. We know that hemp has long been used as a textile fiber because we have discovered remains of cloth woven from hemp as far back as 6000 years.
Hemp can be made into many things including:
- Molded plastics
- Paper products
- Textiles used in fabric
- Construction materials
- Livestock feed and bedding
- Body care products and essential oils
This is not a comprehensive list of all the things hemp can be used for, but our main focus today is not on every conceivable use but rather on the many direct benefits of the powerhouse hemp seed.
Nutritional Value of Hemp Seed
The hemp seed is rich in a number of nutrients, which makes it invaluable in treating many conditions. Merely 100 gms of hemp seeds contain 586 kcal of energy and 31.56 g of protein. In addition, hemp seed comprises of 21 amino acids, of which 9 are essential to the human body.It is high on fiber, like most seeds, and also contains high levels of phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium at 1650 mg, 1200 mg, and 700 mg, respectively. It is also a good source of essential fats and a relatively rare type of omega-6 fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid or GLA.
Improves Cardiovascular Well-Being
The omega-6 fatty acid content of the hemp seed is extremely beneficial to cardiovascular health. Experts recommend a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp seed is the only plant based food product where this ratio occurs naturally. This balance is essential for the human body to function as normally as possible. Consumption of hemp seeds prevents heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis.A healthy heart requires high fiber content in the diet. Many dieticians recommend adding 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds to the diet, say in a morning smoothie, to organically reduce LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. It also improves HDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides.
The hemp seed’s high mineral content is one of its most important benefits. As it contains high amounts of magnesium, it is able to effectively treat insomnia by soothing and relaxing the body. The action of magnesium on enzymes and hormones induces sleep. For instance, serotonin, is released when the magnesium content of the hemp seed is utilized. Serotonin travels to the brain, where it becomes melatonin. The latter is a powerful aid for sleep and relaxation. Experts believe that a single serving of hemp seeds contains 50% of the daily requirement of magnesium.
Improves Digestive Health
Hemp seeds contain a healthy mix of soluble and insoluble fibers, making it the ideal dietary supplement. It is a well-known fact that fiber is essential for gastrointestinal health. The fiber in hemp seeds feeds the probiotics in the stomach and keeps it healthy. Additionally, it provides relief from constipation. As little as 7.5 grams of hemp seeds a day can aid those suffering from constipation. Insoluble fibers in the hemp seed can also provide relief from diarrhea. Soluble fibers, on the other hand, stimulate the production of bile juice, which reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol.
Prevents Colorectal Cancer
Along with improving digestive health, the consumption of hemp seeds also prevents colorectal cancer. Hemp seeds are one of the best cancer-fighting foods available naturally. The fiber content minimizes the risk of carcinogenic cell generation. Research has uncovered evidence that cannabinoids extracted from this seed can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, specifically in lung cancer. Additionally, the balance of omega-3 and oemega-6 fatty acids boosts the immune system and organically balances the level of inflammation in the body. Studies have reported that the THC content of hemp seeds can stop the growth of glioblastoma multiforme, which is a fatal form of brain cancer. Some studies suggest that hemp seeds can reverse this cancer’s effects as well.
Improves Skin Health
Instead of using high-end chemicals to repair damage toskin, one can use hemp seeds. It goes a long way in healing red, flaky skin. It is used extensively in curing atopic dermatitis and eczema, because it penetrates deep tissue and heals from within. Although, hemp seeds are already used in medicines that are used to treat skin ailments, it is a good idea to supplement this with two tablespoons of hemp seeds a day. These seeds can ground and incorporated into your daily skin care regimen to get healthier skin, even if you aren’t afflicted by a skin condition, as it has extensive restorative properties.
Assists in Weight Loss
Hemp seeds are high on protein and low on calories and sodium, which makes it a great supplement in a weight loss regimen. As it is a complete protein, it makes the body feel full for a longer period of time by inhibiting the release of ghrelin and curbing hunger pangs. The fiber content in the seeds also have a similar effect on the body along with assisting in good digestion and bowel movement, which in turn increases the absorption of essential nutrients and reduces weight.Some experts suggest adding up to four tablespoons of hemp seeds to breakfast every day. Since it contains appetite suppressants, you are likely to consume fewer calories during the day.
Improving Muscle Mass
On the other end of the spectrum, hemp seeds can also help in gaining muscle mass. It has nine essential amino acids that are not naturally produced within the human body. Combined with the fact that it is a complete protein, it enables the creation of new tissues along with strengthening muscle mass and density. It also complements a gaining workout routine and helps tone muscle.
Regulates and Balances Hormones
Consuming hemp seeds can help regulate the hormones secreted by the thyroid gland and pancreas as it contains gamma linolenic acid. In addition it can also treat the symptoms of hormonal imbalance, which include but are not limited to mood swings, anxiety, depression, and menopausal symptoms. It also regulates the hormones that impact hunger, and consequently weight gain.
100 gms of hemp seeds contain about 70 mg of calcium, which is a fair amount. Moderate consumption of hemp seeds can supplement a regular balanced diet, which includes calcium rich foods such as milk, and consequently improve bone strength. It can also help in repairing damage to the bones. A higher production of calcium in the body can minimize the chances of developing debilitating conditions like osteoporosis.
Uses of Hemp Seed
Hemp seeds are also known as hemp hearts, and that is the part that is fit for oral consumption. They have a mild, nutty flavor that can enhance the flavor profile of a variety of dishes. They can be ground and added as garnishing, or they can be soaked overnight and the sprouted seeds can become the crunchy element in a salad. They are one of the main components in granola bars. They can also be eaten raw, although it is advisable to consume once soaked to extract maximum nutrition and taste. Hemp seeds are also used to make hempseed oil which is rich in unsaturated fatty acids.
What are the Side Effects of Hemp Seeds?
When thinking about the negative aspects, there are three main categories for the possible side effects of hemp seeds.
Oils and digestion:
Hemp seeds are oily and high in polyunsaturated fat. Although this is the good kind of fat, there are still about 3 to 4 grams of it per tablespoon of seeds.
When adding any source of fat to your diet, you are at risk of suffering from mild diarrhea. However, this can be combated by adding hemp seed to your diet in very small amounts, gradually increasing your daily consumption.
A common concern for those considering adding hemp seeds to their diet is the possible THC content. THC is the compound found in marijuana that has psychotropic properties.
Although hemp seeds and other hemp seed products do not contain THC, some experts believe there is a very possible chance that ingestion may cause euphoria or hallucination.
It is known that THC is not produced in the seeds of the plant, only in the flowers buds and leaves. But as seeds come into contact with the rest of the plant where THC is produced, there is a slight chance of the seeds contracting some kind of residue containing THC. This can’t be controlled for, and some brands may have slightly higher amounts than others.
In addition to this, another very unlikely side effect of hemp seeds it that eating them in large quantities may cause you to test positive to a drug test. Although these are possibilities, it should be stressed that these are really hypothetical, highly unlikely scenarios.
Interference with medication
No evidence or data thus far has shown that eating hemp seeds can interact with the function of pharmaceutical medicines. However, if you’re worried, consult your doctor before taking them.
Hemp seeds inhibit platelets in the blood, so caution can be recommended for people taking anticoagulant drugs.
Other than this, there is little to worry about with hemp seeds and medication. Hemp is not medicine; it is a natural supplement, and as yet no interactions with medicines have been discovered.
Other Side Effects
Other than the possible side effects discussed above, there are few other observed side effects of hemp seeds. Due to hemp being naturally highly saturated in omegas 3 and 6, it can be noted that there are drawbacks to ingesting too much food high in omegas, not specific to hemp.
There is some research that suggests that excessive omega consumption can put you at greater risk of illnesses such as colitis.
In the same vein, overconsumption of protein has its drawbacks too. Some suggest that excessive consumption may make you more vulnerable to weight gain and possibly even cancer.
The research is light on the ground in this area, and, again, this is not specific to hemp seeds but to all foods rich in protein.
Although the hemp seeds that are cultivated specifically for oral consumption are devoid of THC, which is a psychotropic chemical found naturally in some varieties of hemp, they could have come in contact with THC-covered plants and the residue can induce a feeling of being “high”. While this effect can be uncomfortable if unanticipated, it is quite rare, non-threatening, and does not last long. Doctors and nutritionists also caution people who are sensitive to dietary changes against consuming hemp seeds in large quantities, as they can cause mild diarrhea. Additionally, those who are on anticoagulant drugs need to be especially cautious when consuming hemp seeds as they inhibit platelets and may pose a risk of bleeding.
Reviewing the literature covering the benefits and drawbacks of hemp seeds, it is easy to conclude that the abundance of well-documented positive outcomes of hemp seeds outshine the few possible side effects.
On a whole, the side effects of hemp seeds are negligible in comparison to the benefits. The possible side effects discussed are either highly unlikely or unspecific to hemp seeds whereas the benefits of hemp seeds are very impressive.
Hemp seeds are one of the only natural sources of all the essential amino acids, have been shown to have positive influence over illness, and have been suggested to improve general health. They are safe to be taken by those for whom other forms of supplements and or pharmaceutical medicines may not be suitable, including children.