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.
Health benefits of hemp seeds
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Many people consider hemp seeds to be a superfood. The seeds have a rich nutritional profile and provide a range of health benefits.
Although hemp seeds come from the Cannabis sativa plant, they do not produce a mind-altering effect.
These small, brown seeds are rich in protein, fiber, and healthful fatty acids, including omega-3s and omega-6s. They have antioxidant effects and may reduce symptoms of numerous ailments, improving the health of the heart, skin, and joints.
In this article, we look at the various benefits of hemp seeds and provide tips for adding them to the diet.
These seeds are full of nutritious compounds, including:
Share on Pinterest Hemp seeds are a complete source of protein, providing all nine essential amino acids.
Hemp seeds contain almost as much protein as soybeans. In every 30 grams (g) of seeds, or about 3 tablespoons, there are 9.46 g of protein.
These seeds are a complete source of protein, meaning that they provide all nine essential amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks for all proteins. The body cannot produce nine of these acids, so a person must absorb them through the diet.
Relatively few plant-based foods are complete sources of protein, making hemp seeds a valuable addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Hemp seeds are especially rich in an amino acid called arginine, which has benefits for heart health.
2. Unsaturated fats
The health benefits of polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, are becoming increasingly well known.
Hemp seeds are a great source of essential fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3.
The body cannot produce essential fatty acids, and the body must absorb them from the diet. They are crucial for long-term health.
The ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s is also important.
In general, people tend to eat too many omega-6s and too few omega-3s, but adding hemp seeds to the diet may help to promote a balance.
According to results of a 2015 animal study, incorporating hemp seeds and hemp seed oil to hens’ diet led to eggs with increased levels of omega-3s in the yolks and a more healthful omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
Also, hemp seeds are low in saturated fats and contain no trans fats.
Much of the fiber in a hemp seed lies in its outer hull, or shell. If possible, purchase hemp seeds with the hulls intact.
However, even without the shells, hemp seeds are a god source pf fiber, with three tablespoons containing approximately 1.2 g of fiber.
Consuming enough fiber every day can:
- reduce the appetite
- help with weight management
- work to stabilize blood sugar levels
- promote the health of the gut
4. Minerals and vitamins
Hemp seeds contain an impressive array of vitamins and minerals and are especially rich in:
- vitamin E
They are also a good source of iron, zinc, and B vitamins, including:
- vitamin B-6
Alongside the nutritional benefits, some research suggests that hemp seeds have a wide range of positive health effects. They may:
5. Protect the brain
A study published in the journal Food Chemistry found that hemp seed extract has antioxidant effects in lab tests. These effects may result from the seeds’ cannabidiol (CBD) content.
Results of a review from 2018 suggest that CBD and other compounds in the seeds may have neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, effects and may also help to regulate the immune system.
The review suggests that, because of these potential properties, CBD may help with neurological conditions, including:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- multiple sclerosis
- neuropathic pain
- childhood seizure disorders
6. Boost heart health
The medical community believes that omega-3 fatty acids improve the health of the heart and reduce the risk of issues such as arrhythmias and heart disease.
Hemp seeds contain high levels of omega-3s and a healthful ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
The seeds also contain high levels of arginine, an amino acid that turns into nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide is essential for artery and vein dilation, and it helps keep blood vessel walls smooth and elastic.
Lowering blood pressure, eating a healthful diet, and participating in varied forms of exercise may help to decrease the risk of heart failure.
7. Reduce inflammation
The amount of omega-3s in hemp seeds and the seeds’ healthful omega-3 to omega-6 ratio can together help to reduce inflammation.
In addition, hemp seeds are a rich source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a polyunsaturated fatty acid which may also have anti-inflammatory effects.
Some studies on animals suggest that GLA can act as a potent anti-inflammatory. However, recent studies in humans suggest that the acid is not always effective.
A review in The European Journal of Pharmacology states that humans process GLA in a very complicated way, which may explain why the studies in humans produce more varied results than those on animals.
When looking at these studies, it is important to note that researchers usually use high concentrations of hemp seed extracts and that eating the seeds may produce less dramatic effects.
Reducing inflammation may help manage the symptoms of chronic diseases , such as:
- metabolic syndrome
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease
8. Improve skin conditions
Atopic dermatitis (AD) and acne can both result from chronic inflammation. The anti-inflammatory compounds in hemp seeds may help.
Among other possible dietary causes, acne may be linked to a deficiency in omega-3s. The high omega-3 content in hemp seeds may help to manage and reduce acne symptoms.
A 2018 review explored the effects of dietary changes on skin diseases. While the authors found evidence that eating more omega-3s may improve symptoms of acne, determining the extent of the effects will require more research.
The authors also note that prebiotics and plant fibers may help to manage symptoms of AD. Hemp seeds are a rich source of plant fiber.
9. Relieve rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. It causes the immune system to attack its own tissues, which leads to inflammation in the joints.
In 2014, research conducted in human cells suggested that hemp seed oil could have anti-rheumatic effects.
However, a 2018 review found a lack of conclusive evidence to suggest that cannabinoids could effectively treat rheumatic diseases. The authors noted that more research is needed.
Hemp seeds contain plenty of protein, healthful fatty acids, and fiber.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) , 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 116 calories and the following nutrients:
|Total fatty acids||14.62 g|
|Monounsaturated fatty acids||1.62 g|
|Polyunsaturated fat||11.43 g|
|Saturated fatty acids||1.38 g|
Hemp seeds are also a healthful source of vitamin E and minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Hemp seeds are small, brown seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant. They have a rich nutritional profile, with high concentrations of protein and healthful fatty acids. Wide-ranging research suggests that the seeds may reduce symptoms of specific ailments. Learn more about the benefits of hemp seeds here.