8 Benefits Of Hemp Seeds
No. not that kind of hemp.
You totally had a hemp necklace back in middle school. But these days, you’d probably rather eat hemp than wear it.
Yep, hemp is now a bonafide superfood: “Hemp is super-nutritious and although tiny, quite mighty,” says Amy Shapiro, R.D., founder of Real Nutrition.
To reap the benefits, Shapiro suggests adding one daily tablespoon of hempseed—also known as hemp hearts—to your diet in a variety of ways. Mix them into to your smoothie or bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. And at dinner or lunch, sprinkle them on top of your salad, grain bowl, or plate of pasta.
You can also try hemp milk—a non-dairy option made from blending hemp hearts with water. And there’s hemp oil, which Shapiro says may (bonus!) help prevent eczema flareups. Meanwhile, hemp butter—ground-up hemp hearts—makes a healthy peanut butter substitute.
“There are really no negative side effects [to consuming hemp] except if you take blood coagulants, you should increase your hemp intake slowly as it may cause bleeding risks,” says Shapiro.
And yes, hemp does come from the same family of plants as marijuana. But no, it won’t get you high—there’s a distinct difference between psychoactive and non-psychoactive forms of hemp, according to the journal Nutrition and Metabolism. In fact, hemp seeds contains less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—which is super minimal.
So no, the hemp seeds in your cereal won’t make you laugh at Pineapple Express, but they might help you enjoy a healthier life in the following ways.
1. Hemp seeds can help build muscle mass.
Skip the protein powders and add a dose of protein-rich hemp to your smoothie to change things up. Shapiro says that unlike most plant-based protein sources, hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Three tablespoons provides 10 grams of protein—the same amount as a Go Macro protein bar or three ounces of cottage cheese.
2. They can boost energy.
Hemp seeds contain a small amount of complex carbohydrates (about a gram per tablespoon), which releases glucose slowly into the bloodstream, according to The American Heart Association, and prevents that dreaded energy spike and subsequent crash.
3. They may help you lose weight.
Weight loss occurs when you expend more calories than you take in, so hemp seeds won’t singlehandedly help you shed pounds. But they might help “if it replaces fattier and richer types of proteins in the diet,” such as red meat or whole-fat dairy, says Shapiro.
She adds that consuming it in other forms may also help with weight loss. For example, hemp milk has fewer carbohydrates and sugars than regular dairy milk, and hemp protein powder is a great addition to smoothies to help control appetite.
Hemp seeds are packed with all kinds of nutrients from protein to fiber and omega-3s. Here's how you can incorporate these seeds into your diet, plus the health benefits.
Hemp Seed Oil Benefits: Weight Loss, Heart Health & Better Skin
There are numerous hemp seed oil benefits that have been causing this nutritional product to surge in popularity. Hemp seed oil benefits for skin and the benefits of hemp oil for weight loss are just two of the most important reasons to consider adding hemp oil to your daily health regimen.
According to one recent industry report, the market for hemp-based products like cold pressed seed oil will increase 7.5% over the next six years. This growth in demand for these products comes hot on the tails of various studies that show just how great hempseed oil and other products can be for your health.
Hemp Seed Oil Benefits for Heart Health
We are in the midst of a heart health epidemic. According to Health Canada, 2.4 million people in the country aged 20 or older have some form of ischemic heart disease. Heart disease has become the second-highest cause of death in Canada, with more than 48,000 people dying from it in 2012 alone.
Health experts like the Mayo Clinic suggest that omega-3 fatty acids could be the key to restoring heart health among the general population. Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) molecule that have been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation associated with coronary heart disease, diabetes, and other metabolism-related ailments.
On the other hand, a type of PUFA called omega-6 fatty acids is suspected to raise inflammation and worsen blood lipid profiles when consumed in an unbalanced ratio to other PUFA molecules.
The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 molecules is around 3:1, experts say. Yet, common foods in Western diets like red meat and refined vegetable oils contain extremely high volumes of omega-6 and very low amounts of omega-3.
Hemp seed oil can help restore this balance since it has a nearly perfect 3:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, reports Reuters. Their coverage of a recent study notes that “researchers examined the fatty acid profile of hempseed oil and found that polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) made up about 75 percent of the oil.”
That is a relatively high ratio of polyunsaturated fats compared to saturated fats and monounsaturated fats, making hemp seed oil a very healthy alternative to other common cooking oils.
Hempseed oils contain alpha linolenic acid (ALA) as well as other compounds that can lower “bad” cholesterol and help people improve their overall heart health.
Hemp Seed Oil Benefits for Skin
The same healthy PUFA molecules that improve heart health and metabolism can also do wonders for skincare.
Research shows that molecules in hemp seed oil like gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) can help restore skin molecules to a healthy glow. GLA and similar PUFA compounds can reduce inflammation, prevent dryness, help skin heal more quickly and create a more balanced skin profile overall.
These effects can be enjoyed whether taking hemp seed oil orally or applying it directly to the skin. In fact, the advantages of applying hemp oil topically have lead to a growing number of products including it as a base ingredient. Lip balms, suntan lotion, skin creams, shaving cream, and shampoo containing hemp seed oil can all be found both in-store and through online retailers.
Research has also uncovered the potential to treat chronic skin conditions, such as eczema and dermatitis. One blog writer discovered that by taking hemp seed oil orally and also applying it topically to their eczema, her condition cleared up in mere days.
Subjects in a randomized, single-blind crossover study in patients with atopic dermatitis (eczema) exhibited similar results. 1 “Dietary hempseed oil caused significant changes in plasma fatty acid profiles and improved clinical symptoms of atopic dermatitis. It is suggested that these improvements resulted from the balanced and abundant supply of PUFAs in this hempseed oil.”
Using hemp seed oil as a supplement, topical agent, and food oil can therefore help improve the strength, vitality and appearance of your skin.
Benefits of Hemp Oil for Weight Loss
An ideal balance of PUFA molecules and other healthy fats makes hemp seed oil great for maintaining your weight. By lowering inflammation in your body along with other markers of poor metabolic health, the oil can improve your ability to maintain a healthy weight.
Not only that, but hemp seed oil can become an incredibly healthy addition to your overall diet. That’s because it has fewer calories and more nutrition than olive oil — let alone vegetable oil, canola oil, or other less-healthy culinary oils.
There are also nutrients in hemp seed oil that help curb your appetite, helping you feel more full more often and eat less. The seeds are packed with protein, which helps you feel fuller and more sated after meals. A high level of healthy fats also keeps you feeling energized without the negative consequences saturated fats and high volumes of omega-6 can bring.
In fact, the high omega-3 ratio in hempseed oil could be the key to fighting obesity in general. In a lab study with mice, subjects given omega-3 rich fish oil increased their metabolic activity and had a stronger “anti-obesity” effect observed.
Hemp seed oil can help you feel fuller, improve your metabolism and supplement you with essential amino acids and nutrients like manganese, magnesium, and vitamin E.
Choosing the Right Hemp Seed Oil for Your Health Needs
When selecting hemp oil, be sure to look out for 100% hemp seed oil made from cold-pressed seeds. By choosing a pure, complete source of oil that has been extracted through a natural cold-press process, you leave in more of the beneficial compounds hemp seed oil has to offer while avoiding contaminants and impurities.
- Callaway J, Schwab U, Harvima I, Halonen P, Mykkänen O, Hyvönen P, et al. Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis. Journal of Dermatological Treatment. 2005;16(2):87–94.
Learn the many health benefits of hemp seed oil, from weight loss to heart health to better skin.