Hemp seeds are are very nutritious and provide numerous health and wellness benefits. Below, I’ve listed the top five reasons to add hemp seeds to your diet.
Hemp Seed Health Benefits
1. Great source of plant protein and healthy fats
2. Good for digestion
3. Improves skin health
4. Good for heart health
5. Can improve PMS and menopause symptoms
Just one ounce of hemp seeds contains 10.3 grams of protein, which is 21% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). “Hemp can be considered a superior protein source due to its above-average digestibility, which also makes it ideal for athletes. … The better a protein is digested, the more efficiently it can be used by the body.”1
The main proteins in hemp seed are albumin and edestin, which are rich in many of the same essential amino acids found in soy and egg whites; these amino acids include lysine, methionine and cysteine. “Hemp's edestin content is among the highest of all plants. Hemp protein is also easy to digest because of its lack of oligosaccharides and trypsin inhibitors, which can affect protein absorption.”2
Hemp contains 12.6 grams of fat per one ounce serving – 19% of the RDA. These fats include an optimal balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which is a 3:1 ratio. Fatty acids are very important to both health and beauty, and studies have shown that a deficiency can cause skin problems. “[Eczema], thick patches of skin, and cracked heels are common”2 among people who are deficient in fatty acids. And like most other seeds, hemp seeds also contain both saturated and unsaturated fats. Despite media claims, both fats are necessary for good health, especially heart health.
Hemp seed also contains gamma-linolenic acid (aka GLA), which the body can turn into prostaglandin E1, which reduces the effects of prolactin. Prolactin is a hormone manufactured by the pituitary gland. It’s job is to stimulate breast development and milk production in women. However, some women have a sensitivity to prolactin which can lead to the physical and emotional symptoms known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Multiple studies have suggested that GLA can reduce PMS symptoms that have failed to respond to other treatments. “It decreased breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability and fluid retention associated with PMS.”3 And that’s not all. “Because hemp seeds are high in GLA, several studies have indicated that hemp seeds may also help reduce the symptoms of menopause. … Exactly how this works is unknown, but it has been suggested that the GLA in hemp seeds may help to regulate the hormone imbalances and inflammation associated with menopause.”3
Whole hemp seed improves digestion with its fiber content – both soluble and insoluble. “Soluble fiber dissolves into a gel-like texture, helping to slow down your digestion. This helps you to feel full longer and is one reason why fiber may help with weight control. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve at all and helps add bulk to your stool. This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination.”2 Fiber is also essential to good heart and skin health. But you can only benefit from hemp seed fiber if you consume the hull, that’s where the fiber is.
Below, is a short list of hemp seed’s most abundant nutrients.
Hemp Seed Nutrients
(Measurements are per 1 ounce / 28 grams, servings)
Protein – 10.3 grams – 21% RDA
Total fat – 12.6 grams – 19% RDA
Saturated – 0.9 grams – 5% RDA
Iron – 2.7mg – 15% RDA
Magnesium – 179mg – 45% RDA
Zinc – 3.2mg – 21% RDA
162 calories may seem a lot for one ounce of seeds, but considering you’ll get nearly a quarter of a day’s recommended allowance of protein from that one ounce, it’s certainly worth it. One ounce of beef doesn’t contain that much protein; the same is true for chicken, turkey and fish.
And, in case better heart and skin health, reducing PMS symptoms and helping to build and maintain muscle is not enough reason for you to support hemp agriculture, hemp is also good for the environment. Hemp plastic is currently being used for plastic panels in most foreign automobiles, due to its “extreme strength and durability.”4 Hemp plastic is also poised to replace ordinary plastic for water bottles, which are among the most disposed of plastic containers. So, hemp seed and the fibrous plant that bears it are beneficial all around.
A guest blog by holistic writer Andrea Lewis.
1 McNight, Clay. “Benefits of Hemp Protein”. Livestrong.com, April 17, 2015. Web. March 2016
2 Mercola, Joseph, MD. “Health Benefits of Hemp”. Mercola, October 27, 2015. Web. March 2016
3 Bjarnadottir, Adda, MS. “6 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds”. Authority Nutrition, October 2015. Web. March 2016
4 “Hemp Plastic Water Bottles”. Tripod. <hempwaterbottles.tripod.com> Web. March 2016
“Hemp Seed (shelled)”. SELF Nutrition Data, n.d.. Web. March 2016
“Prolactin Blood Test”. Medline Plus, n.d. Web. March 2016