What are the health benefits of hemp?
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Hemp is a plant grown in the northern hemisphere that takes about 3-4 months to mature. Hemp seeds can be consumed or used to produce a variety of food products including hemp milk, hemp oil, hemp cheese substitutes and hemp-based protein powder.
Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor. Hemp milk is made from hulled hemp seeds, water, and sweetener. Hemp oil has a strong “grassy” flavor.
Hemp is commonly confused with marijuana. It belongs to the same family, but the two plants are very different. Marijuana is grown to contain high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that is responsible for its psychoactive properties. Hemp describes the edible plant seeds and only contains a trace amount of THC.
This feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of hemp and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more hemp into your diet and any potential health risks of consuming hemp.
Share on Pinterest Hemp is available in a variety of forms, including oils and powders.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a 2 tablespoon serving of hemp seeds weighing 20 grams (g) contains :
- 111 calories
- 6.31 g of protein
- 9.75 g of fat
- 1.73 g of carbohydrates (including 0.8 g of fiber and 0.3 g of sugar)
- 14 milligrams (mg) of calcium
- 1.59 mg of iron
- 140 mg of magnesium
- 330 mg of phosphorus
- 240 mg of potassium
- 1.98 mg of zinc
- 22 micrograms (mcg) of folate
Hemp seeds also provide vitamin C, some B vitamins, and vitamins A and E.
The nutritional content of hemp is linked to a number of potential health benefits.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming two 3.5-ounce servings of fish, especially oily fish, each week. This is because fish is a major source of omega-3 fatty acids. If a person does not regularly consume fish, they may not be getting enough DHA or EPA.
Hemp is a plant-based source of concentrated omega-3 fatty acids. However, the fatty acids that hemp contains are alpha-linolenic acids (ALA), which are poorly converted to DHA and EPA in the body at a rate of only about 2 to 10 percent.
Despite this inefficient conversion rate, hemp is one of the richest sources of ALA, and so still represents a very good source of healthy fat, particularly for those who do not consume fish or eggs.
Hemp contains a specific omega-6 fatty acid called GLA and hemp oil contains an even higher percentage of GLA.
Hemp seeds also contain phytosterols, which help in reducing the amount of cholesterol in the body by removing fat build-up in the arteries.
Hemp contains all 10 essential amino acids, making it a good plant-based protein source. Hemp does not contain phytates, which are found in many vegetarian protein sources and can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals.
Magnesium plays an important role in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, including the metabolism of food and synthesis of fatty acids and proteins. Magnesium is involved in neuromuscular transmission and activity and muscle relaxation.
Magnesium deficiency — which is especially prevalent in older populations — is linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, and osteoporosis. Nuts and seeds like hemp are some of the best sources of magnesium.
Research suggests that people experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) may be able to alleviate symptoms such as bloating, insomnia, leg swelling, weight gain and breast tenderness by ensuring an adequate intake of magnesium. Magnesium combined with vitamin B6 appears to be most efficacious in these instances.
Hemp is a plant whose seeds can be consumed or used to make food products such as milk and oil. It provides protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and it may be useful as part of a weight-loss diet. Risks include digestive problems. Find out more about hemp seeds and how to include them in your diet.
Hemp Seed Nutritional Information
Michelle Arnold / EyeEm
Hemp seeds are a great source of lean protein for vegetarians and vegans and are easy to add to your meals. They’re particularly great for vegetarians following a high-protein diet, such as the Slow Carb Diet. You can sprinkle them on salads, noodles dishes and vegetable stir-fries, or add them into a morning breakfast bowl or smoothie. But what nutrients are you getting when you do? What is the nutritional value of hemp seeds?
According to CalorieCount, one serving of hemp seeds, which is three tablespoons, provides:
- Calories: 180, Calories from Fat 126
- Total Fat 14.0g 22%,
- Saturated Fat 1.5g 8%, Polyunsaturated Fat 10.0g, Monounsaturated Fat 1.5g
- Potassium 300mg 9%
- Total Carbohydrates 2.0g 1%
- Dietary Fiber 2.0g 8%
- Protein 10.0g
- Vitamin A: 0%, Vitamin C: 0%, Calcium: 2%, Iron: 20%
Essential Fatty Acids
Hemp seeds are great for getting a little extra protein here and there, but most people love hemp seeds for their essential fatty acids, that is, their Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
Three tablespoons of hemp seeds (one serving) provide 7.5 grams of Omega-6 fatty acids and 3 grams of Omega-3 as well as 0.6 grams of Super Omega-6 Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) and 0.3 g Super Omega-3 Stearidonic Acid (SDA). Along with flax oil and flax seeds, hemp seeds are one of the best vegetarian and vegan sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Along with protein, fiber, and iron, hemp seeds are also a great source of a host of other vital nutrients, including magnesium, thiamin, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese and Vitamin E.
Hemp seeds are great for getting a little extra protein here and there, but most people love them for their essential fatty acids and other nutrients.