It seems like there’s a trendy new superfood every season: first, it was kale, then kefir, and now… hemp seeds? I can barely keep up, let alone sift through what’s real and what’s just online buzz. The hype around this very good source of plant-based protein might seem like it’s coming from nowhere, but the science is in: Hemp seeds are great for us, and they make the perfect superfood addition to your favorite recipes. Keep reading to learn more about hemp seeds and how they impact your health.
What Are Hemp Seeds?
Hemp seeds come from the hemp plant, a.k.a Cannabis sativa. If reading that scientific name gives you pause, don’t worry — while hemp seeds come from the same plant species as the cannabis plant, they’re a different variety and contain only minuscule amounts of THC and cannabinoids like CBD. Instead, hemp seeds are rich in important nutrients and minerals.
Forget the fad diets — whole hemp seeds are the real deal when it comes to health. Plus, they’re tasty, with a mild nutty flavor that easily blends into your favorite oatmeal recipe or morning smoothie with some protein powder.
A Rich Source of Nutrition
Hulled hemp seeds are rich in omega fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6. Omega fatty acids are essential for supporting your health and have been correlated with reduced chance of heart disease, reduced inflammation, and supporting brain health.
Consuming an adequate amount of omega fatty acids in your diet is vital to reducing your risk of many diseases. This is especially true for omega-3 fatty acids, which our bodies can’t naturally produce — instead, we have to get all of our omega-3 from our diets. Studies show the benefits of including fish oil supplements in your morning vitamin line-up to ensure you get sufficient omega-3s. Hemp seeds are a great source of this important fat as well.
In addition to these essential fatty acids, hemp seeds are rich in minerals like phosphorus, sodium, zinc, magnesium, sulfur, and calcium, as well as Vitamin E. According to the Mayo Clinic, Vitamin E is essential for supporting healthy vision, reproductive health, and the health of your skin, brain, and blood. It’s also an antioxidant, which may help protect against free radicals that increase the risk of developing conditions like heart disease. Vitamin E is critical for many of our basic health functions, and one of the easiest ways you can boost your consumption of this key nutrient is to add hemp seeds to your next meal.
Can Help Improve Your Skin
Another unexpected benefit of these low-key seeds is that they might just be the cure for chronic dry and itchy skin. Recent studies show that regular consumption of hemp seeds may help improve eczema, atopic dermatitis, and other dry and itchy skin conditions, thanks to their abundance of fatty acids. Omega fatty acids regulate how much oil your skin produces and can help soothe irritation, breakouts, and signs of aging. Thus, consuming a sufficient amount of these fatty acids is key for healthy and hydrated skin.
So, drink enough water, slather on your moisturizer, and don’t forget the hemp seeds — including them in your diet might support your skin as much or more than the skincare products on your bathroom shelf.
Packed With Protein
Hemp seeds aren’t just superpowered with key vitamins and minerals, they’re also packed with 11 grams of protein per serving — vegans and vegetarians, take note. One-quarter of the calories in hemp seeds come from their protein content, which is high in comparison with other protein sources. What’s more, hemp seeds are a complete protein source, meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids the body needs to function properly.
A diet packed with amino acids is critical for good health because our bodies can’t produce amino acids on their own: we need protein-rich fuel to get all those important nutrients. Along with quinoa, hemp seeds are one of the few plants to contain all the essential amino acids. If you’re thinking about replacing the meat in your diet with plant protein, it doesn’t get much better than these tiny seeds.
May Help Support Healthy Menstrual Functions, Including PMS and Menopause
Hemp seeds are especially beneficial for women because of the relief they can provide from symptoms of menopause and PMS. Hemp seeds are rich in gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA, which can reduce the effects of the hormone prolactin. GLA has also been shown to reduce the inflammation and hormone imbalances that are beleived to contribute to symptoms of menopause. Although the science relating to hemp seeds and menstrual symptoms is still developing, it’s another feather in the cap of this multifunctional seed.
Hemp Seeds and Heart Disease
Earlier, we discussed the nutritional value of hemp seeds and how the vitamins and minerals within hemp seeds can help reduce the risk of developing diseases, including heart disease. Let’s dive into that a little bit further. Hemp seeds are rich in arginine, an amino acid that may be indirectly responsible for lowering blood pressure and therefore reducing your risk of a heart attack or other heart disease. The GLA found in hemp seeds also contributes to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Helps You Wave Digestive Woes Goodbye
Not only do hemp seeds have myriad vitamins and minerals, they’re also rich in fiber, which is critical for aiding in digestive health. Hemp seeds contain both soluble fiber, which can help support a strong gut microbiome and regulate your blood sugar and cholesterol, and insoluble fiber, which helps food pass through the gut without problems (such as bloating, constipation, and gas).
Eat a meal rich in hemp seeds, and your digestive system will rejoice. Just be sure that the hemp seeds you’re buying are unshelled — shelled hemp seeds, also called hemp hearts, are missing most of their fiber, thanks to the shelling process.
Are hemp seeds worth the hype?
It’s clear that hemp seeds have a ton of benefits and definitely deserve the title of superfood. Hemp seeds might be small, but they are mighty — and they absolutely deserve a place on your next shopping list. If you aren’t sure how to incorporate hemp seeds into your diet, here are a few ideas to consider.
- Adding hemp seeds to your favorite breakfast smoothie: Their nutty taste blends well with bananas, berries, and your favorite nut butter.
- Add them to your favorite muffin recipe: Just like poppy seeds and lemon, these two flavors pair together nicely.
- Chia pudding: Hemp seeds add a nutty crunch to high-protein chia pudding, and with this recipe, you’re getting two superfoods in one.
- DIY granola: Try making your own gluten-free granola from oats, nuts, and seeds, including chia seeds, flaxseeds, and, of course, hemp seeds. They’ll blend right in with this yummy yogurt topper and boost your protein and nutrient intake.
- DIY hummus: Consider following a hummus recipe that calls for hemp seeds instead of oil. It’s a great source of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and hemp protein.
- Hemp seed dressing: Hemp seeds make the perfect ingredient to throw into your favorite salad dressing.
However you choose to incorporate hemp seeds into your diet, my answer is yes – they absolutely are worth the hype and definitely fit into the superfood category. Don’t miss out on all of their superfood benefits — next time you’re at the store, throw some hemp seeds into your cart and watch the health benefits roll in.