Hemp seeds are the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. They are from the same species as cannabis, but they contain only trace amounts of THC, the compound that is responsible for the drug-like effects of marijuana. Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts. You can consume them raw, cooked, or roasted.
Almost 25 percent of the calories in these amazing seeds come from protein, which is pretty high. Or in other words, just 30 grams of hemp seeds will give you a whopping 11 grams of protein. This puts them in the category of the best protein sources, along with lamb and beef.
Hemp seeds are a complete source of protein, which means they contain all of the 20 amino acids that are needed for achieving optimal health. They are especially high in the amino acid arginine, which is used to produce nitric acid in the body. Nitric oxide is a gas molecule that makes the blood vessels dilate and relax, which leads to lowered blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Note that the human body can’t produce these amino acids, so they need to be taken from the diet. If your diet lacks appropriate intake of essential amino acids, it is more likely that your health will be compromised.
Another thing you should be aware of is that digestibility of hemp protein is very good. In fact, it is much better when compared to the digestibility of protein from grains, nuts, and legumes.
Furthermore, hemp seeds are also high in fats and essential fatty acids, mainly polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6), oleic acid, alpha-linolenic acids (omega-3), and gamma-linolenic acid. They have a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which is considered in the optimal range. According to some studies, this may provide relief from eczema and its uncomfortable symptoms, and can help prevent premature aging.
In addition to this, the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) found in hemp seeds has been linked with reduced inflammation, which may lower heart disease risk. Also, some studies conducted in recent years have found that GLA can help reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability, and fluid retention.
Whole hemp seeds are also a good source of both soluble (20%) and insoluble fiber (80%), which are known for their ability to improve the digestive health.
Soluble fiber helps feed the friendly bacteria that are absolutely vital to good health. It can also reduce spikes in blood sugar and regulates cholesterol levels.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, adds bulk to fecal matter and may help food and waste pass through the gut. Consuming insoluble fiber has been associated with a reduced diabetes risk.
However, keep in mind that de-hulled or shelled hemp seeds (also known as hemp hearts) contain very little fiber, because the fiber-rich shell has been removed.
This is what whole and shelled hemp seeds look like
Hemp seeds are also one of the best natural sources of magnesium, a mineral in which 80 percent of us are deficient. This essential mineral is responsible for more than 300 different biochemical reactions in the body. It helps us maintain nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, helps regulate blood pressure, stimulates the production of energy and protein, etc. Also, there is ongoing research into the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as diabetes and heart disease.
Last but not least, hemp seeds are also loaded with other important nutrients, such as vitamins B1, B3, B6, and B9, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and iron.