Hemp Seeds: Are They Good for You?
In this Article
In this Article
In this Article
- Nutrition Information
- Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
- Potential Risks of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are a rich source of nutrients. Part of the hemp plant, these seeds are technically a nut that can be eaten raw or used to make milk, oil, cheese substitutes, or protein powder.
While related to the cannabis plant, hemp seeds have little to none of the psychoactive compound THC found in marijuana. For centuries the seeds have been used for oral and topical applications to treat and prevent certain health issues. A growing body of modern clinical research is backing up many of these claims.
Hemp seeds’ nutty flavor and versatility also make them a great substitute for the levels of protein, essential fatty acids, and other nutritional benefits found in meat and dairy products.
Hemp seeds can be:
- Eaten raw, roasted, or cooked
- Shelled as hemp hearts
- Cold-pressed to produce hemp seed oil
- Used for non-dairy hemp milk and hemp cheese
A 30 gram serving (three-tablespoons) of raw hemp seeds contains:
- Calories: 166
- Protein: 9.47 grams
- Fat: 14.6 grams
- Carbohydrates: 2.6 grams
- Fiber: 1.2 grams
- Sugar: 0.45 grams
Hemp seeds are also good source of:
Hemp seeds also contain high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
Studies have shown that the ideal ratio for the fatty acids in hemp seeds is 3 to 1. At this ratio, these fatty acids help to support healthy cholesterol levels, immune system function, and may help regulate your metabolism.
Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of plant-based protein. They contain all nine essential amino acids, and research suggests that hemp’s protein content is well-absorbed by our bodies.
In addition to this protein load, hemp seeds history is tied to their potential health benefits. Many modern studies have backed up several of these claims.
Hemp seeds’ health benefits include:
Hemp seeds are a great source of magnesium, which helps regulate your heartbeat and is linked to the prevention of coronary heart disease. They also contain Linoleic acid, which one study found reduced participants’ cholesterol levels by 15% and may act to reduce blood pressure.
One of the omega-6 fatty acids in hemp seeds is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA,) which may have anti-inflammatory effects similar to drugs like ibuprofen. One study found a 75% reduction in arthritis-associated pain in participants after nine months of GLA supplementation.
Hemp oil can be used in cooking to add nutritional benefits to your meal, and it can also be applied topically to the skin. Studies have found that hemp seed oil can relieve the symptoms of eczema and improve dry or itchy skin.
Research is ongoing, but hemp seed oil’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects may also help to treat acne.
The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in hemp seeds is the optimal level for nutritional benefit. This balance supports both heart and cognitive health and is often lacking in most diets..
Hemp seeds also contain plant compounds called terpenes. While research is ongoing, studies suggest that terpenes may help protect the brain and prevent tumor growth.
Potential Risks of Hemp Seeds
While the fat content in hemp seeds comes primarily from its healthy essential fatty acids, eat them in moderation to meet your recommended daily consumption of fat. High fat intake can also cause nausea or diarrhea.
Other things to consider before adding hemp seeds to your diet include:
Hemp seeds may interact with certain medications including anticoagulants.
Studies have shown that hemp seeds reduce blood clotting, which can interact with blood-thinner prescriptions.
There is not enough clinical research to show that hemp is safe either orally or topically for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, so it is not recommended.
Hemp seed shells can contain trace amounts of THC, the active psychoactive compound in marijuana. People with a previous dependence on cannabis may consider looking for an alternative.
The fiber content in hemp seeds can cause digestive discomfort like bloating, nausea, or constipation in large amounts. Make sure to drink plenty of water when eating hemp seeds to help avoid gut problems.
Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. “Cannabis sativa (Hemp) Seeds, Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, and Potential Overdose.”
Biochemical Education: “The action of vitamin K and coumarin anticoagulants.”
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: “Evaluating the Quality of Protein From Hemp Seed (Cannabis sativa L.) Products Through the Use of the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score Method.”
Journal of Dermatological Treatment: “Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis.”
Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostatis: “Dietary hempseed reduces platelet aggregation.”
Oilseeds and fats, Crops and Lipids:“A short review on sources and health benefits of GLA, The GOOD omega-6.”
Mayo Clinic. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet.”
Nutrients: “Dietary Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review with Emphasis in Epidemiological Studies.”
Nutrition & Metabolism: “The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed.”
Plant Science: “Terpenes in Cannabis sativa – From plant genome to humans.”
PLOS One: “The ameliorative effect of hemp seed hexane extracts on the Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation and lipogenesis in sebocytes.”>
The British Medical Journal (BMJ): “The importance of a balanced ω-6 to ω-3 ratio in the prevention and management of obesity.”
The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behaviour Letter: “FDA on CBD in pregnancy and breastfeeding”
USDA FoodData Central: “Seeds, hemp seed, hulled.”
Find out what the research says about hemp seeds, who should have them, and how they may affect your health.
How to Eat Hemp Seeds
If you’re looking for easy ways to eat healthier, hemp seeds can make an excellent addition to a well-balanced diet. Hemp seeds are packed with essential nutrients your body needs. There’s a reason hemp seeds have been eaten for thousands of years. They contain almost every essential nutrient you need for your health to absolutely thrive.
Hemp seeds aren’t just amazing for your health — they’re also easy to eat and cook with. Their nutty taste is mild and somewhat like a cross between pine nuts and sunflower seeds. Before we explore the ways you can make hemp seeds a part of your healthy diet, let’s take a look at just how beneficial they are for health and well-being.
The Nutritional Profile of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are one of the healthiest foods nature has to offer. Some consider hemp to be the most nutritious food that exists. What makes hemp such a nutrient-dense powerhouse?
According to the USDA, a 30 gram serving of hemp seeds (approximately 3 tablespoons) contains the following nutritional profile:
- 166 calories
- 14.62 grams fat
- 9.47 grams protein
- 2.6 grams carbohydrates (1.2 grams fiber/.45 grams sugar)
- 21 milligrams calcium
- 210 milligrams magnesium
- 2.38 milligrams iron
- 495 milligrams phosphorus
- 360 milligrams potassium
- 2.97 milligrams zinc
- 33 micrograms folate
Needless to say, the number of nutrients hemp seeds contain is quite impressive. Let’s take an even deeper look and find out what are the hemp seeds good for.
They Are Rich in Essential Fatty Acids
While this is certainly impressive, it’s the unique essential fatty acid profile hemp seeds contain that make them even more extraordinary. Hemp seeds contain the highest level of plant-based essential fatty acids (EFAs), with a perfectly balanced 3:1 ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which is considered optimal for human health.
Hemp seeds also contain phytosterols, which some experts say are a great way to keep the brain and body young and manage high cholesterol levels.
They Are an Awesome Plant-Based Protein
When it comes to plant-based proteins, hemp seeds are one of the best options. They’re considered a complete protein, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids. More than 25% of their calories come from their high-quality protein profile. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 9.46g of protein, which can be a beneficial addition for vegans or vegetarians looking for plant-based proteins.
They Contain a Wide Range of Vitamins and Minerals
Hemp seeds are full of vitamins and minerals your body needs. They are especially abundant in vitamin E, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Hemp seeds are also a good source of riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, folate and vitamin B6. While hemp seeds also contain fiber, you’ll only find ample amounts in whole hemp seeds. Hemp seeds that have been shelled or de-hulled actually contain very little fiber.
Hemp Seeds and Health Benefits
So what are hemp seeds good for actually? The answer will satisfy every enthusiast and sceptic. The complete nutritional profile of hemp seeds packs some pretty impressive health benefits.
Hemp Seeds and Heart Health
Hemp seeds contain ample amounts of arginine, an amino acid that helps produce nitric acid in the body. Why is this important for heart health? Nitric acid helps blood vessels expand and relax, which helps lower blood pressure and helps reduce the risk of heart disease.
One study found that people who adhere to a diet high in foods that contain arginine may be able to reduce their risk of heart disease. How exactly does it work? Increased levels of arginine intake are associated with lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). High levels of CRP are directly associated with heart disease.
Hemp Seeds and Healthy Skin
Hemp seed oil, which is made from hemp seeds, is known for its ability to calm and moisturize the skin without clogging pores. Hemp oil is often recommended as a component of a regular skincare routine. Adding a few tablespoons to your everyday diet could also benefit skin health.
Hemp Seeds and Hormone Health
Hemp seeds are abundant in omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is known to help balance hormones. GLA produces prostaglandin E1, which can reduce the effects of prolactin. It’s suggested that prolactin sensitivity is directly related to symptoms of PMS. One study found that women who took one gram of essential fatty acids daily, including 210mg of GLA, experienced a substantial reduction in symptoms of PMS. It’s also believed that GLA could be beneficial for regulating hormone imbalance associated with menopause.
Hemp Seeds Won’t Get You High
One of the biggest concerns people have when it comes to eating hemp seeds is that they think the seeds might get them high. Although hemp and marijuana are derived from the same plant family (Cannabis sativa), the two plants are distinctly different.
Hemp doesn’t contain significant levels of THC, the cannabinoid found abundantly in marijuana that’s responsible for mind-altering side effects. In fact, the industrial hemp from which hemp seeds are derived contains less than 0.03% THC. It’s marijuana that’s cultivated for medicinal and recreational use that contains high amounts of psychoactive THC.
Not only does industrial hemp lack THC, but hemp seeds themselves don’t contain any active cannabinoids at all. Take it from Drug Policy Alliance staff attorney, Jolene Formene, who says, “Hemp seeds are non-psychoactive, meaning that consumers cannot get high by eating them.”
How to Eat Hemp Seeds
Now that you know why you might want to eat hemp seeds, we’ll show you a few different ways to add these beneficial seeds to your everyday diet.
Add Them to Smoothies
There’s nothing quite like a smoothie. It’s a simple drink with a limitless amount of good-for-you ingredients that makes a great snack or standalone meal in itself. Adding hemp seeds to an already healthy smoothie is an awesome way to get an added boost of the beneficial nutrients your body needs.
Toss Them into a Salad
Salads are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. One way to make a salad even healthier? By tossing in some hemp seeds, of course! Whether you prefer spinach, kale or baby greens, hemp seeds can pack some extra protein, fiber and other essentials into your salad.
Eat Them Raw
By far, the easiest way to eat hemp seeds is straight out of the package. Eating hemp seeds raw isn’t for everyone but is one way to consume a quick serving of nutrients whenever you feel like you’re running on empty. Hemp seeds can also be added to other nuts and dried berries for a supercharged snack mix.
Add Them to Baked Goods
If you love to bake, you might want to consider adding hemp seeds into the mix. Whether baking bread, muffins, cookies, cake or quinoa breakfast bars, hemp seeds will add a bit of a nutty, healthy twist.
Sprinkle Them on Your Avocado Toast
Want to take your morning avocado toast to the next level? Consider sprinkling some hemp seeds on top. They’ll offer a bit of extra nutritional value to help you get your day going, as well as a nutty crunch that could make hemp seed avocado toast your new go-to. Not a big fan of avocados? Try sprinkling hemp seeds on almond butter and banana toast instead.
Stir Them into Your Cereal
Whether you eat cereal in the mornings or save it for a midnight snack, stirring a tablespoon of hemp seeds in is a great way to add them to your diet. Simply pour cereal into a bowl, top with hemp seeds and add your favorite nut or dairy milk. It’s a super simple solution to getting the many of the nutrients you need to fuel your day. Not a big cereal fan? Consider stirring hemp seeds into your dairy or plant-based yogurt.
Sauté Them in a Stir-Fry or Stir into Sauces and Soups
Hemp seeds can make a great meal even better. Consider lightly sautéing hemp seeds into a stir fry a few minutes before removing from heat. Hemp seeds can also be stirred into your favorite sauces or soups. This is a great way to meet the nutritional needs of picky eaters in your household (who won’t even know the difference).
How to Store Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds should be purchased as fresh as possible. Do yourself a favor and look for the sell-by date before you buy. When you get hemp seeds home, they should be stored in a cool, dark place, as they keep best when they are away from bright light.
When stored in the pantry, hemp seeds should stay fresh for 3-4 months. Choose to refrigerate or freeze these beneficial seeds and they’ll stay good for up to a year.
What are some of the ways you incorporate hemp seeds into your diet? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
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Todd Smith is Joy Organics Chief Partnerships Officer and Co-founder. Before Joy Organics, he worked in the wellness and nutritional industry for over three decades and helped generate over 1 billion dollars in supplement sales. He has applied that knowledge and experience to empower over 1000 businesses through Joy Organics’ partnership programs. Todd is also the author of a book, podcast, and blog titled Little Things Matter.
Hemp seeds are packed with essential nutrients your body needs. But are you curious just how to eat hemp seeds? Joy Organics shares different ways to enjoy.