The Health Benefits of Hemp Hearts
Just like chia and flax seeds, hemp hearts pack a punch of nutrition in just a few tablespoons. Here’s the low-down.
Over the last decade, chia and flax seeds have gone from hipster products hidden in the back of a Whole Foods to beloved pantry staples, all thanks to their portable size, versatility in flavor combos, and nutritional values. And it’s about time hemp hearts got the same kudos.
Derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, hemp hearts are actually just hulled or unshelled hemp seeds, and no, they don’t naturally contain CBD — the compound that can potentially ease anxiety and treat other health concerns — or THC — the chemical responsible for cannabis’ mind-altering effects, per the Food and Drug Administration. While hemp hearts do have an ever-so-slightly nutty taste and creamy texture, that’s not their main draw. “Just like chia seeds or flax seeds, you don’t recommend hemp hearts for the taste — you recommend them for the added nutrition,” says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N, a dietitian and Shape Brain Trust member. That’s not to say hemp hearts taste bad (some people may enjoy that added bit of nuttiness!), it’s just that their nutritional qualities are probably the primary reason you’ll want to add them to your diet.
In fact, the health benefits of hemp hearts run aplenty. They offer everything from nutrients that support bone and heart health and essential minerals for plant-based eaters, to muscle-building macronutrients. And luckily, there’s an abundance of creative ways to add them to your diet too. “Any way you’d use chia seeds or flax seeds, you can use hemp hearts,” says Gans. “Add them to your smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, or salads.” You can even incorporate them into homemade cookies, muffins, bread, granola, and energy balls for a punch of nutrients.
If this quick rundown didn’t quite convince you to swap your chia seeds for hemp hearts, read up on all the benefits of these little seeds below.
They’re loaded with protein.
Hemp hearts may be small, but they sure are mighty. Three tablespoons of the hearts contain a whopping 9.5 grams of protein — three grams more than a single egg and nearly double that of chia seeds, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. In case you forgot everything from high school health class, protein helps support your immune cells, hair, skin, and importantly, muscles. Following a round of exercise, your body uses protein to repair damaged muscle fibers, which helps them become even stronger. Unsurprisingly, if you don’t get enough of it through your diet, you could suffer from muscle loss, weak hair and nails, or immune issues.
For the average woman following a 2,000 calorie diet, the USDA recommends scoring 46 grams of protein a day. Do a little math wizardry, and that means one serving of hemp hearts offers nearly 20 percent of your daily need. Admittedly, a three-tablespoon serving is a lot, so you might eat only half a serving — and thus get half the protein — in one sitting. But every little bit adds up, so add as many as you’d like to your post-workout smoothie, and you’ll be on your way to achieving those #gains.
They boast omega-3 fatty acids.
While fresh fish and seafood are typically the go-to sources for omega-3 fatty acids, hemp hearts deserve to be on the favorites list, as well. In just three tablespoons of hemp hearts, you’ll get more than double the daily recommended amount of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 that your body can’t produce on its own — meaning they need to be obtained from your diet, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce levels of triglycerides (a type of fat linked with increased risk of heart disease), curb the buildup of plaque in your arteries (which can ultimately lead to a heart attack or stroke), and slightly lower blood pressure, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Related: Vegetarian Foods That Offer a Healthy Dose of Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
They support good bone health.
Though it’s not the most glamorous benefit of hemp hearts, it is one of the biggest. Just three tablespoons of hemp hearts provide 210 milligrams of magnesium and 495 milligrams of phosphorus, which breaks down to a whopping 68 percent and 70 percent of your recommended daily allowances, respectively, for each of those nutrients.
ICYDK, “magnesium can help in the whole bone equation,” says Gans. “We always talk about calcium and vitamin D, but magnesium also plays a role in keeping our bones strong.” In fact, research has found that people who consume more magnesium have higher bone mineral density, which is essential in reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis (a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle.)
Likewise, the primary function of phosphorus in the body is to help build and maintain your bones and teeth, according to the NLM. Along with calcium, this essential nutrient forms the tiny crystals that give bones their rigidity, and when dietary intakes of phosphorous are lacking for a prolonged period, bones can actually weaken, per the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
They supplement nutrients for plant-based eaters.
Listen up, vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, and any other all or mostly all plant-based eaters. Three tablespoons of hemp hearts contain 13 percent of the recommended daily allowance for iron, a mineral that’s used to make proteins in red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs throughout the body and to muscles. Without enough of it, less oxygen is moved throughout the body, which can cause gastrointestinal upset, weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating, per the NIH. Not exactly a pleasant situation to be in.
Along with pregnant women and young children, plant-based eaters are at a greater risk than most humans for iron deficiency, says Gans. That’s because the iron in food comes in two forms, heme iron (found only in meats and seafood) and non-heme iron (found in plant foods, iron-fortified products, meats, and seafood). Since the body doesn’t absorb non-heme iron as well as heme iron, plant-based eaters need to consume nearly twice as much iron to get their fill, per the NIH. And luckily, these crunchy hemp hearts can help herbivores easily amp up their iron intake, says Gans.
They help your body convert food to energy.
You can thank the tiny seed’s thiamine and manganese content for this hemp heart benefit. Also known as vitamin B1, thiamine helps your body break down carbohydrates so they can be used as energy, explains Gans. It’s also essential for the growth, development, and function of the cells in your body, according to the NIH. Without enough of the nutrient, you can start to experience weight loss, reduced appetite, confusion, memory problems, muscle weakness, and heart problems, reports the NIH. But not to worry, you can snag 35 percent of your recommended daily allowance in just three tablespoons of hemp hearts. (Related: Why B Vitamins Are the Secret to More Energy)
What’s more, a three-tablespoon serving of hemp hearts boasts nearly 130 percent (!)) of the recommended daily allowance of manganese, a mineral that helps break down the starches and sugar you eat and process cholesterol, carbohydrates, and protein, per the NLM. The nutrient also helps support strong bones, blood clotting, and a healthy immune system. It’s the bundle of nutrients you never knew you needed.
Wondering exactly what hemp hearts are? Here, the answer to what are hemp hearts, plus all the hemp hearts benefits and hemp heart nutrition facts.
Hemp Seed Benefits – Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
Hemp seed benefits and hemp seed oil benefits are widely recognized. It is considered a superfood, as it is abundant in several important nutrients and can be helpful for those who want to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
What is hemp seed oil?
Hemp seed oils are extracted from hemp – the same plant that cannabidiol (CBD) oil is extracted from, but there is a fundamental difference between hemp seed oil and CBD oil – cannabinoid content. Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil do not contain any significant amount of cannabinoids.
Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil have been shown to provide a number of health and nutritional benefits, but it’s important to remember that they don’t contain any significant amount of CBD, THC, or any other cannabinoid. If you’re looking for a CBD-rich hemp extract, look for CBD oils instead.
Hemp seed oil vs. CBD oil
While both are derived from the hemp plant, there are significant differences between CBD oil and hemp seed oil.
Hemp seed oil, like the name implied, is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant only. No actual plant mass is used in the extraction of this oil. Since cannabinoids are mostly found in the plant material like leaves, stems and flowers, hemp seed oil contains little-to-no cannabinoids.
CBD oil, on the other hand, is an extraction that’s optimized specifically for CBD. It’s extracted using solvents or C02 from the main plant mass of the hemp plant, resulting in a cannabinoid-rich oil.
While hemp seeds can contain extremely small amounts of cannabinoids, it’s generally not anywhere near enough to cause any perceptible effects. One study found between 0-12 micrograms of THC per gram of hemp seed, meaning you’d need roughly 83g of hemp seeds to get even 1mg of THC.
CBD oil can contain up to 0.3% THC by law, but many formulations contain zero THC at all.
Nutritional Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Great source of Omega-3s
Some of the hemp seed oil benefits are related to its substantial content of omega-3 fatty acids, which are very healthy for the heart. In addition, it is a key nutrient for brain health, it may decrease the risk of depression, diabetes, and obesity.
In one study, researchers used hemp seed oil to treat people with eczema. The study showed that this increased the level of fatty acids in the blood which helped to alleviate symptoms, such as dry skin, reduced itching, and reduced the need for skin medication.
Good source of protein
Hemp seeds provide a complete protein , with all nine amino acids that the human body cannot produce. In countries where it is consumed freely and sold in supermarkets, it is a good option for vegans.
Hemp seed is a food rich in nutritional fat value and contains a low amount of carbohydrates.
High fiber content
Fiber is a fundamental component of most healthy diets, especially if one wants to lose weight. This is because it helps in the absorption of nutrients and encourages the proper functioning of the digestive system. It also helps increase feeling ‘full’ and having eaten a satisfying meal, which can reduce cravings.
On average, women need to consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day and this figure increases to 38 grams for men. Hemp seed has high fiber content, with about one gram in just 3 tablespoons.
There are soluble and insoluble fibers, both are beneficial for our body. Soluble fibers are responsible for creating a gel-like substance inside the intestine. This gel serves as a source of nutrients for digestive bacteria and can reduce blood sugar and regulate cholesterol levels.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, increases the volume of fecal matter, helping ease the passage of food through the intestine. The consumption of insoluble fiber is also associated with a decrease in diabetes.
Source of phytonutrients
These are the compounds that help protect the plant against insects, germs, fungi, etc. and these can be of benefit to our immune, lymphatic, and cellular systems. It may also improve the absorption of nutrients.
In addition, hemp seed contains iron, calcium and vitamins A, C, E, and the B complex that may help prevent diseases such as anemia and cancer.
High mineral content
Hemp seed is a rich source of several key minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Improves Heart Health
Heart disease is one of the biggest health issues in the world. Hemp seed has distinct properties that may help prevent and reduce the risk of heart disease.
When you consume hemp seed, you receive an amino acid called arginine. This is known to have properties that help in the production of nitric oxide in our body. This oxide helps dilate blood vessels, helping to lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease related to high blood pressure.
Hemp seed benefits for skin
Fatty acids are of course invaluable in maintain our skin’s health. But these fatty acids in the composition of hemp seed are also very beneficial for those who have skin problems like eczema.
Reducing the symptoms of PMS and menopause
PMS can affect about 80% of women of reproductive age, causing discomfort not only physically, but emotionally. It is triggered by hormones such as prolactin.
Studies have shown that the benefits of hemp seed oil are related to gamma linolenic acid, found in these hemp seed, when ingested, activates the production of prostaglandin E1, a vasodilator that reduces the effects of prolactin.
Some studies indicate that gamma linolenic acid can reduce breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability and fluid retention, symptoms associated with PMS.
The effectiveness of this acid is also associated with the improvement of menopausal symptoms. Studies suggest that gamma linolenic acid, contained in hemp seed, may help regulate hormone variations and reduce the inflammation caused by menopause.
Improved sleep quality and reduced stress
Stress can influence the physical and mental well-being of the body, adversely affecting an individual’s general condition. Some of the problems associated with chronic stress are premature aging, insomnia, loss of appetite, overheating and chronic stress can encourage further health problems.
This superfood contains a large proportion of micronutrients that may help to fight the symptoms of stress in people. It may reduce stress by providing the body with essential nutrients that will allow you to stay healthy. Some of these nutrients include calcium, zinc, arginine, glutamine, etc. Hemp seeds also contain magnesium, a nutrient that improves sleep quality.
Hemp seeds can be used to reduce inflammation and the pain associated with it. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is one of the components of hemp seeds that can reduce the severity of inflammation in joints, tissues, and muscles.
This product also has an antioxidant property, which makes it useful in the treatment of muscle cramps and discomfort.
Hemp seed is considered by some to be a superfood. If you have been wondering about it, let's look deep into the hemp seed health benefits.