Hemp seeds are high in protein, fiber, and anti-inflammatory fats. Blend them into smoothies for extra nuttiness and thickness.
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What Are Hemp Seeds?
Also known as hemp hearts, hemp seeds have a brown-red color. They have a slightly nutty flavor, which is delicious in smoothies.
You can buy hemp seeds with or without the shell. The deshelled, or hulled, version is more common in stores.
Like other seeds and nuts, hemp seeds can be easily added to oatmeal, pudding, and baked goods. They’re also a great addition to smoothies.
12 Hemp Seed Health Benefits
1. Manages Inflammation
Hemp seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, or “good” fats. These fats have powerful anti-inflammatory properties in the body.
The seeds also contain antioxidants, or beneficial molecules that fight both inflammation and oxidative stress.
Controlling inflammation is so important for good health. It’s a natural process, but if it continues for too long, it can cause sickness.
This includes conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and brain disease. Adding hemp seeds may help lower the risk, making it a healthy food.
2. Reduces Oxidative Stress
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals, or harmful substances that damage cells. This type of damage is called oxidative stress.
Like inflammation, oxidative stress can lead to serious conditions over time. Examples include cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
As a source of antioxidants, hemp seed are good for controlling oxidative stress in the body.
The antioxidants work by changing the structure of free radicals. When this happens, the free radicals become less dangerous to healthy cells.
3. Provides Protein
About 20-25% of hemp seeds is made of protein, an essential macronutrient. A macronutrient is a nutrient your body needs in large amounts.
The protein in hemp seeds is also complete, meaning it contains all of the amino acids your body needs. Amino acids are protein “building blocks” that help the body function.
When added to smoothies, hemp seeds can increase the protein content of your drink. This is especially helpful after exercise or if you’re recovering from being sick.
4. Decreases Hunger
Eating hemp seeds can help reduce appetite and cravings. This may be useful if you’re trying to manage weight.
Hemp seeds are made of about 10% fiber, a nutrient that increases the feeling of fullness.
This is due to the way fiber moves through the body. It stays in the gut for a while, which enhances satiety, or fullness.
The protein in hemp seeds help, too. Protein decreases hormones that make you feel hungry, such as cholecystokinin and glucagon-like peptide-1.
Hormones are chemical messengers that travel through the body and control different processes.
5. Boosts Brain Function
As a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, hemp seeds are naturally good for the brain. The fats are anti-inflammatory, so they can fight neuroinflammation.
Neuroinflammation happens when the tissues in the brain and spinal cord become inflamed. This can damage nerve cells, or neurons, which are in charge of brain function.
Over time, neuroinflammation can negatively affect processes like memory and learning. It could also lead to chronic brain conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease.
Adding hemp seeds to smoothies is an easy way to manage this inflammation and protect your brain.
6. Manages Blood Pressure
Hemp seeds are high in many proteins, including arginine. This is an amino acid that has beneficial effects on blood pressure.
Arginine is needed to form nitric oxide, a gas that widens the blood vessels. The result is lower blood pressure, as the blood can easily move through your vessels.
If you have high blood pressure, this is important. High blood pressure can damage blood vessels, making it difficult for blood to flow to your organs.
It can lead to heart disease and stroke, but eating foods like hemp seeds may lower the risk.
7. Lowers Blood Cholesterol
High cholesterol is when extra cholesterol builds up in the blood vessels. This can interrupt blood flow, causing damage to the heart.
If the high cholesterol continues, it can lead to heart disease and other heart problems. So it’s important to control and prevent, if possible.
The polyunsaturated fatty acids in hemp seeds will help. They can lower LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol.
Plus, hemp seeds contain soluble fiber, a type of fiber that removes excess cholesterol from the body.
8. Aids Digestion
Hemp seeds are a high-fiber food. Fiber is a key nutrient for keeping your digestive system healthy.
When fiber enters the gut, it increases the bulk of stool. This promotes regular bowel movements and reduces digestive issues.
Additionally, fiber ferments in the gut. This provides food to the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system.
As a result, good bacteria can grow and thrive, keeping your gut balanced. A balanced gut is needed for overall digestive health.
9. Contributes to Bone Health
Hemp seeds offer many nutrients needed for healthy bones, including calcium and magnesium.
Calcium is a mineral that makes bones strong. It’s one of the top nutrients for bone health, as more than 99% of calcium in the body is found in the bones.
Magnesium also contributes to bone strength, as it’s needed for bone-building cells. The bones contain more than 60% of magnesium in the body.
In addition, hemp seeds contain other nutrients needed for healthy bones, including potassium, phosphorous, and vitamin A.
10. Enhances the Skin
Omega-3 fats are beneficial fats. They’re a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that’s found in hemp seeds.
In the body, omega-3 fats help the skin by reducing inflammation. They do this by stopping reactions that produce inflammatory molecules.
This may help control inflammatory skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, and even inflammation from sun exposure.
Polyunsaturated fats might also aid wound healing, which keeps your skin healthy after injury.
11. Boosts Athletic Performance
The high content of arginine in hemp seeds may also support athletic performance. It’s due to the nitric oxide, which arginine helps produce.
As nitric oxide widens blood vessels, it increases the flow of blood. This ensures your tissues and organs get enough oxygen, which is important during physical activity.
Nitric oxide also helps the contraction, or tightening, of muscles. It’s a key part of moving your muscles.
What’s more, the protein in hemp seeds can increase your protein intake, which is needed to recover muscles after exercise.
12. Eases Premenstrual Syndrome
If you’re a person who menstruates, hemp seeds could help relieve premenstrual syndrome, also known as PMS.
The seeds are high in gamma-linolenic acid, a type of omega-6 fat. Gamma-linolenic might reduce how prolactin, a hormone, affects the body.
This is key because prolactin is linked to PMS symptoms. It’s thought that people who experience PMS are sensitive to prolactin, especially at higher levels.
Inflammation is also involved in PMS, but the anti-inflammatory properties of hemp seeds might be beneficial.
RELATED: 12 Benefits of Eating Flax Seeds
Since hemp seeds are high in fiber, it’s a good idea to add it to your diet slowly. Eating too much fiber at once can cause digestive issues, like pain and constipation.
Hemp seed allergies are also rare, but possible. If you’re new to hemp seeds and have a history of food allergies, pay attention to your body after eating it.
You can also ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to eat.
Hemp Seed Tips
Use shelled seeds for smoothies.
Hemp seeds are available with or without the shell. The ones without the shell, known as shelled hemp seeds, are more common.
Shelled hemp seeds are best for smoothies because they’re softer. Avoid using seeds with shells because they’ll be harder to blend.
Store in the fridge.
For the longest shelf-life, keep hemp seeds in the fridge in an airtight container. They’ll last for about one year when stored this way.
Avoid adding too much in recipes.
When using hemp seeds in smoothies, only add 1 or 2 tablespoons. Using more might overpower the flavor of the drink.