Health Benefits Of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are the seeds of the annual hemp plant (Cannabis Sativa L.), which belongs to the hemp family. It is related to the cannabis plant, which is also used for medicinal purposes. Hemp seeds have a high nutrient density. They are rich in essential fatty acids, minerals, and proteins. They also do not contain gluten.
Unshelled hemp seeds are occasionally referred to as hemp nuts.
High-Quality Proteins - Also for a Healthy Cardiovascular System
With approximately 31.6 g of protein per 100 g, hemp seeds are one of the best plant-based protein sources. They contain all nine essential amino acids in significant amounts, making hemp seeds a high-quality protein source. In total, they contain 181 different protein compounds, all of which are easily digestible 1.
Especially arginine is present in high amounts. The amino acid is converted into nitric oxide in the body, which acts as a neurotransmitter relaxing blood vessels and positively affecting heart health. Nitric oxide is involved, among other things, in the regulation of blood pressure and vascular tone, as well as the inhibition of platelet aggregation and leukocyte adhesion 2.
In addition, hemp seeds contain high amounts of the amino acids methionine and cysteine.
Hemp seeds are rich in essential fatty acids
In addition to flaxseeds and chia seeds, hemp seeds are the primary source of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that should not be missing in the diet. Alpha-linolenic acid is needed for the formation of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, which are components of the nervous system, retina, and cell membranes. Furthermore, they exert their anti-inflammatory benefits in the body.
Also, the essential omega-6 fatty acid linoleic Acid is abundantly present. Eicosanoids, which are involved in immune reactions, are formed from linoleic acid. However, the requirement for omega-6 fatty acid is already adequately met with a plant-based diet. Excessive intake of omega-6 can lead to health impairment.
According to some scientific studies, a strong imbalance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is associated with negative health effects 3. The ideal ratio is 1:1 up to 4:1 for omega-6. Hemp seeds, with their ratio of 3:1 in favor of omega-6 fatty acids, are a very good food for the treatment and prevention of coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, other inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, cancer, and mental illness 4.
Stearidonic acid, another omega-3 fatty acid abundant in hemp seeds, has shown in studies to increase the level of eicosapentaenoic acid in red blood cells 5. Eicosapentaenoic acid has anti-inflammatory and preventive benefits on heart diseases, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, and various types of cancer 6.
Gamma-linolenic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid), a derivative of linolenic acid, is also present in hemp seeds. This fatty acid is primarily associated with its potential for healthy skin and contributes to improved skin barrier function in patients with dry skin and mild atopic dermatitis 7. The barrier function protects the skin from negative environmental influences such as pathogens.
Lastly, higher amounts of the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid are also present in the seeds. This fatty acid is attributed with anti-inflammatory benefits as it plays a role in activating immune-competent cells 8. Scientists also have no doubt that oleic acid has an anti-tumor effect in cancer 9.
Due to the high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, hemp seeds become rancid quickly and should, therefore, be stored in a cool place.
Dietary fiber is also abundant in hemp seeds. It promotes a healthy intestinal flora by serving as a food source for gut bacteria and softening the stool 10. Especially the husk of hemp seeds contains high amounts of dietary fiber (29.5%) 11.
The minerals iron (7.95 mg per 100 g), potassium (1.2 g), magnesium (0.7 g), manganese (7.6 mg), and zinc (9.9 mg) are also abundant in hemp seeds. They play a crucial role in various functions, including oxygen transport through the blood, nerve transmission, enzyme activation, and immune system function.
Hemp seeds are a good source of vitamins
Vitamin E, B6, as well as niacin and thiamine (vitamin B1), are found in higher concentrations in hemp seeds.
- Vitamin E: antioxidant benefits
- Vitamin B6: required for protein and carbohydrate metabolism
- Niacin: involved in energy release from food, important for the nervous system
- Thiamine: involved in energy release from carbohydrates and nerve transmission
Phytochemicals in hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are also a good source of plant phytochemicals. They support the immune system and protect cells from damage.
Hemp seeds contain 32 mg of lignans (phytoestrogens) per 100 g, with 99% of them found in the shell. These findings are from a study by Smeds AI, Eklund PC, Willför SM., titled "Content, composition, and stereochemical characterisation of lignans in berries and seeds," published in Food Chemistry on October 15, 2012. You can find the source 12. Another relevant source is the article "Cannabis sativa: The Plant of the Thousand and One Molecules" by Christelle M. Andre, Jean-Francois Hausman, Gea Guerriero, published in Front Plant Sci. on February 4, 2016. You can access it 13. Lignans have estrogen-like effects, as mentioned by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research in their article on flaxseed and flaxseed oil (Linum usitatissimum), retrieved on December 8, 2015. You can read it 14. Lignans may offer promising risk-reducing effects on cardiovascular diseases, according to a study by Julia Peterson, Johanna Dwyer, Herman Adlercreutz, Augustin Scalbert, Paul Jacques, Marjorie L McCullough, titled "Dietary lignans: physiology and potential for cardiovascular disease risk reduction," published in Nutritional Reviews. The manuscript is available on PMC and was published in its final edited form on October 1, 2011. You can find it 15. Lignans are also believed to play a role in cancer prevention, as discussed in a publication by Webb AL, McCullough ML. titled "Dietary lignans: potential role in cancer prevention" in Nutritional Cancer in 2005. The article can be found 16.
In a published study, 4 new and 10 known lignanamides were isolated from hemp seeds. 17. Eight of them exhibited good antioxidant activity, and three of them even showed acetylcholinesterase inhibitory effects. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors play an important role in reducing neuropsychiatric symptoms and in the general treatment of Alzheimer's disease 18.
Cannabisin B and N-trans-caffeoyltyramine are the most common phenolic compounds found in the husk 19. Scientific findings suggest that cannabisin B possesses significant antiproliferative activity, targeting tissue proliferation, making it a promising chemopreventive agent against hepatoblastoma (the most common liver tumor in children) 2021. N-trans-caffeoyltyramine has shown antioxidant benefits in vitro (in the test tube) studies 22.
In vitro studies with human LDL cholesterol have shown that extracts from hemp seed shells protect cholesterol from oxidative damage. 23 Therefore, scientists suspect that hemp extract from the shell is a potential source of natural antioxidants.
Do hemp seeds contain THC?
Cannabis Sativa L. is not the cannabis plant used in medicine, but rather a type that contains a lower amount of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp seeds only contain traces of THC that do not exhibit psychoactive properties. Unpeeled hemp seeds contain 0 to 12 µg/g, while peeled seeds contain 0.5 µg/g of THC. 24 25 The "highest" concentration is found in the shell.
The small seeds can be used raw, sprouted, cooked, and toasted. With their slightly nutty flavor, hemp seeds are a perfect addition to muesli, salads, desserts, soy yogurt, and smoothies.
Hemp protein powder, hemp flour, hemp chocolate, and hemp oil are other products made from finely ground or pressed seeds. Additionally, hemp milk can be prepared from the seeds. Due to their high protein, fiber, and secondary phytochemical content, hemp seeds are a healthy and sustainable ingredient in the food and beverage industry 26.
Buy Hemp Seeds
From a taste perspective, it is recommended to opt for peeled hemp seeds when making a purchase. Additionally, the digestibility of hemp proteins improves after removing the shell 27. Furthermore, preparing meals with peeled seeds is much easier. However, they are more expensive than unpeeled seeds. With unpeeled hemp seeds, you can eat the shell. Hemp seeds are primarily available for purchase on the internet. Occasionally, you can find them in larger organic stores and health food stores.