Hemp Seeds: Nutrition, Benefits & Recipes
From chia to flaxseed, I love using nutritious seeds in salads, as toppings on soups and stews, and in baking. Today, I’m focusing on another super seed – the hemp seed! I wanted to share why the hemp seeds have so many health benefits and a few tips on how to eat and cook with hemp seeds.
When it comes to some of the most nutritious pantry staples, I know it’s true that big things often come in small packages. I love nutrition boosts like hemp seeds and want to share why its a must-have ingredient for your paleo diet (or any diet, really).
What are hemp seeds?
Hemp seeds come from the plant Cannibus sativa L, which is not exactly the same as the marijuana plant, although they are very similar and are part of the same Cannibus family. Let’s get one thing clear: hemp seeds will not get you high and are perfectly safe to eat. This is because hemp contains more CBD (or cannibidiol) than it does THC. To clarify, hemp seed is only about 0.3-1.5% THC. This means that it has little to no psychoactive effects.
The hemp seed is a simple dry fruit with a hard shell, kind of like the sunflower or sesame seeds. It has a mild, nutty flavour. The seed is one of the most versatile plants and is used for much more than just food. Most notably, hemp is used as fibre or textile and has been used that way for 10,000 years or more. Now, it’s sold hulled and ready-to-eat as a health food too.
When it comes to eating hemp seeds, they can be consumed raw, sprouted, or in powder form. Hemp is a natural plant protein with a full amino acid profile. They are high in fat – healthy fats – like many other seeds. They’re also loaded with vitamins and minerals. Hemp seeds fall into the super food category with ease, and they stand their ground!
Hemp seed sustainability
Before we dig into the nutrition of hemp, I want to address an equally as important point when choosing the foods we eat. Each choice we make in our diet should consider both our health and the planet, and I want to give hemp some credit where credit is due.
Hemp is a particularly easy plant to grow. It grows in varying climates with ease, and it can grow in pretty tight spaces so it doesn’t demand a ton of room. Unlike some plant harvesting, we don’t need to create more space to grow hemp, making it a very sustainable corp.
Moreover, hemp is resilient. It grows like a weed (no pun intended). It’s resistant to harmful pesticides so less are used on the crops. This means that less nitrogen ends up in our oceans which causes hypoxic conditions where fish can’t live and algae blooms in abundance, robbing all the oxygen. Oh, and hemp can even absorb toxins from the soil through a thing called phytoremediation. It’s carbon-negative and can even be turned into biofuel! You can feel darn good about contributing to the hemp industry.
Hemp seed nutrition
Let’s get to know exactly what each tiny hemp seed is comprised of first. These are the notable macronutrient and micronutrient measures per 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds.
Calories: 174 calories, Fat: 13.5 grams, Protein: 11 grams, Carbohydrates: 2 grams, Fibre: 2 grams, Iron: 16% DV, Vitamin E: 21% DV, Phosphorous: 48% DV, Magnesium: 48% DV, Zinc: 23% DV. Not too bad for a little seed, hey? They are both satiating and nutrient-dense.
The benefits of hemp seeds
Now, let’s get into why hemp seeds are so darn good for you! This plant-based food is a fabulous source of protein, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Gram for gram, it fits the ‘super food’ bill with a strong case.
They’re a great seed for anyone on the paleo diet, the keto diet, or eating plant-based vegan or vegetarian diets.
They contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. 30% of hemp seed nutrition comes from quality, good-for-you fats. They contain both omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, promoting a good balance of the two in our bodies.
This is essential to overall health for numerous reasons. An imbalance can cause inflammation and degrade immune response. Fatty acid balance is especially important for those with autoimmune disease and leaky gut.
Those fatty acids are essential to good skin health, and a healthy brain!
Hemp is a fabulous source of plant-based protein. 25% of hemp seed nutrition comes from plant-based protein. It’s definitely my top pick for plant-based protein supplements. 2-3 tablespoons add a whopping 11 grams of protein to a meal easily. You can get the protein from the whole seed or hemp protein powder.
With protein, it’s not always quantity that matters – it’s quality. You’ll be pleased to find out that hemp protein contains all essential amino acids, making it just as beneficial as any source of animal protein. And, unlike many other nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes, this plant protein is very easy to digest.
They’re great for heart health. Amino acid arginine dilates blood vessels and decreases hypertension. It’s also important for protein synthesis, leading to decreased levels of C-reactive protein which can help you manage systemic inflammation that can later lead to heart disease.
It contains plenty of GLA. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) – present in hemp seeds – helps to flow the production of prostaglandin which in turn aids in the management of the emotional and physical effects of prolactin (which can cause PMS symptoms). Thus, GLA helps to balance hormones.
Due to its ability to keep your hormones regulated and working properly, it can also reduce the pervasive and unwanted symptoms of menopause. GLA can also positively impact obesity, diabetes, heart disease risk, ADHD, and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. This is likely due to their anti-inflammatory nature.
Hemp promotes healthy digestion. Whole, shelled hemp seeds are an abundant source of soluble fibre which can aid digestion, keep gut flora variable and healthy, and manage blood sugar levels (which are, in essence, controlled by digestion).
Hemp seeds are a great weight loss food. I love foods that are high in protein, healthy fats, and fibre for weight loss. These foods are essential to the diet because they promote satiety, keep you full, and keep you healthy. Starting the day off with hemp protein or seeds mixed into a smoothie, 3-4 tablespoons atop a bowl of yoghurt, or in an energy ball is a great habit that can promote fat loss because it keeps appetite at bay.
How to eat hemp seeds
Like I mentioned above, you can easily add hemp seeds to salads, smoothies, and yoghurt for a deliciously nutty nutrition boost. Like with most nuts and seeds, you can even make your own dairy-free milk from the seeds. You can even swap out your protein powder for a hemp protein powder which comes unflavoured or flavoured.
- Protein powder. Blend it into smoothies or use a flavoured blend in a blender bottle for a quick pre-gym or post-gym boost. Hemp protein is nearly as bioavailable as whey protein (the most bioavailable) and is both plant-based and paleo-friendly. There are lots of brands of hemp seed protein powder out there, I quite like this one or this one. In Australian, you can find hemp seed protein online on iHerb.com or at health food stores.
- Have them plain. It’s the least exciting option, but it definitely works. Hemp seeds are naturally quite palatable with a rich flavour and texture that resembles a creamy nut like cashew or macadamia. Have 2-4 tablespoons to boost fat, protein, and fibre. This is the brand of hemp seeds I really like (here is a link to iHerb in Australia).
- Add them as a topping. Smoothie bowls and yoghurt bowls plus salads and other savoury dishes can stand a little hemp action. The nutty flavour pairs well with lots of foods.
- Use them in baked goods. Many baked goods can be tweaked to your liking. That’s where I love to see super foods hiding out! Use them in place of or in conjunction with other seeds or blend them into energy bars for seamless nutrition. Try my hemp seed Anzac biscuits here.
Try these hemp seed recipes
You can also use hemp seeds for a wide variety of recipes both sweet and savoury. They’re a good ingredient for grain-free crusts and baked goods. No matter your craving, you can include them in your diet with these paleo hemp seed recipe ideas.
Homemade hemp milk from Minimalist Baker
Hemp heart porridge from The Healthful Pursuit
Paleo coconut & hemp bars from Running on Real Food
Keto oatmeal from Keto Connect
Raw hemp chocolates from Unconventional Baker
Do you include hemp hearts or hemp seeds/oil in your diet? I hope you understand the benefits of this amazing super food better now, and you are inspired to add a spoonful or two to your daily routine.
Learn more about super food hemp seeds and the benefits of eating hemp, plus how to use it in your diet featuring paleo hemp seed recipes.
6 Incredible Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds biologically come from a plant that is similar to marijuana but has comparatively very low amounts of psychoactive compounds.
However, the health benefits of hemp seeds are known for ages. It is one of the rarest natural sources that contains the perfect balance of all essential vitamins, minerals, fibers, and proteins that are important for our well-being.
The health benefits of hemp seeds are endless. The hemp seeds have similar to our body amount of nutrients and hence can be easily digested and accepted by our body.
Here are some health benefits that the hemp seeds can offer:
1. Are Extremely Nutritious
Hemp seeds sometimes referred to as hemp hearts, contain over 30% of good fat.
Specifically, the hemp seeds are rich in fatty acids, linoleic acid (Omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (Omega-3).
The hemp seeds have more Omega-3 than salmon!
Moreover, the excellent 3:1 balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 promotes cardiovascular health. High in Omega-6 or Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) regulate our hormone balance.
Did you know that 2-3 tablespoons of hemp seeds are equal to about 11 grams of protein?
It makes the hemp seeds a great source of protein, especially for people who do not eat meat of any kind as a food preference or due to the health issues.
It also contains Vitamin E which can help in increasing the immunity function as well as benefits in protecting us from several diseases.
With the help of vitamin K, vitamin E is also helpful in the process of blood coagulation. Hemp seeds are also rich in phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, zinc and copper.
2. May Help With The Weight Loss
It is proven that hemp seeds may keep you feeling full longer partly due to the good amount of fiber.
Some diet experts recommend adding four tablespoons of hemp seeds to your breakfast to fight hunger through the whole day.
3. May Improve Your Digestive System
As we all know our overall health is closely connected to the gut health. Hemp seeds contain all required fiber (insoluble and soluble) to keep your gastrointestinal system regular.
Rich in fiber foods also helps with constipation. It is very important for people who start a new diet as constipation is something that could happen when your body experience changes in its food consumption.
Studies made by the American Journal of Gastroenterology and conducted at Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Chinese Medicine showed that hemp seed pill treatment was effective for treating functional constipation (1).
However, if you would like to enjoy all the fiber benefits of the hemp seeds, give a preference to the whole hemp seeds.
Shelled hemp seeds (or also called hemp hearts) contain very little fiber because the fiber-rich shell was originally removed.
4. May Help Improve Some Body Functions
Hemp seeds are rich in Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) that play an important role in controlling inflammation and body temperature and smooth the muscles.
It was proven that GLA supplementation is necessary for proper hormone health and could help a lot of women who suffers from PMS symptoms.
GLA-rich foods could also help people with high blood pressure, obesity, ADHD, skin allergies, heart disease and many more.
5. May Help With Arthritis Symptoms
The research found that hemp seed oil can help with the arthritis symptoms.
A study showed that the hemp seed oil treatment lowered the survival rate of MH7A rheumatoid arthritis fibroblast-like synovial cells, and at certain doses, it even promoted cell death. Therefore, people suffering from arthritis could benefit from consuming the hemp seed oil regularly (2).
It is recommended to take 1 tablespoon of hemp oil daily with a quality fish oil.
6. May Improve Skin And Hair
As mentioned above the hemp seeds have anti-inflammatory qualities. That is why a lot of high-end cosmetics uses hemp seed oil as one of the main ingredients to produce creams, lotions, and soaps.
Researchers found that conditions like eczema and psoriasis can be improved by using the hemp seed oil regularly.
Hemp seeds may improve your skin by detoxifying the skin and removing lesions and blotches.
It is an excellent skin moisturizer because it is absorbed very quickly and will not clog the pores. It is also an excellent sunblock because of its regenerating and soothing properties.
As a recommendation take a tablespoon of hemp seeds every day to maximize the benefits of the hemp seeds for your skin.
Hemp Seed Consumption and Storage
Hemp seeds can be eaten as is, sprinkled on your food or used in baking (check my granola cookies recipe and breakfast bread recipes). The hemp seed oil is better to be consumed cold, for example, in salad dressings.
Hemp seed oil should be kept in a cool dry place because it does not have a long shelf life. It is recommended to buy it in small quantities if you do not use it very often.
The basic recommendation is to keep it away from light, heat, and moisture.
You will need to keep the container tightly sealed to prevent air and moisture from contaminating the product.
If you buy in bulk, it may be a good idea to take out a small amount of the product for immediate use so that you don’t have to open the primary container each day.
So Much Health Benefits Hidden In the Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds gain more and more popularity due to its endless potential.
Hemp seeds contain amino acids, essential fatty acids, and several other essential nutrients that are vital for the immune system and other physiological functions.
It makes it an excellent medicine base and source.
The hemp seeds are a complete source of nutrition and are also termed as a superfood by many.
It is a good option to be included in one’s diet to have a healthy long life.
A lot of stores now have it available on the shelves, however, if you cannot find it in the store, you will definitely find it online.
Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats, specifically fatty acids, linoleic acid (Omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (Omega-3), a great source of protein and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc