Some say they’re a grain, others say a nut but we say “who cares” … these little babies are a great source of nutrition. Hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals.
There are many health benefits of hemp seeds that are backed up by science. Whether classified as a seed or grain or nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious with a mild, nutty flavor. Hemp is a great source of vitamin E and minerals like phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat and are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has been linked with several health benefits.
Hemp seeds are a good source of polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids, and they have about a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which is considered the optimal range.Hemp is a great protein source with 25% of the total calories being from high-quality protein; considerable and better even than other super seeds like chia seeds and flax, which provide about 16–18%. They are considered a “complete protein source,” which means that they provide all the essential amino acids that are not produced in the body.
Complete protein sources are very rare in the plant kingdom, as plants often lack the amino acid lysine. Quinoa is another example of a complete, plant-based protein source. Hemp contains significant amounts of the amino acids methionine and cysteine, as well as very high levels of arginine and glutamic acid. The digestibility of hemp protein is also very good — better than protein from many grains, nuts, and legumes.
Eating hemp seeds may reduce the risk of heart disease via several mechanisms. They contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which is used to produce nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a gas molecule that makes the blood vessels dilate and relax, leading to lowered blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease. The gamma-linolenic acid found in hemp seeds has been linked to reduced inflammation, which may decrease the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that hemp seeds may reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of blood clot formation, and help the heart recover after a heart attack.
Whole hemp seeds are a good source of both soluble (20%) and insoluble (80%) fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the gut and is a valuable source of nutrients for the beneficial digestive bacteria plus it may also reduce spikes in blood sugar and regulate cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to fecal matter and may help food and waste pass through the gut. Consuming insoluble fiber has also been linked with a reduced risk of diabetes. De-hulled or shelled hemp seeds (also known as hemp hearts) contain very little fiber, because the fiber-rich shell has been removed.