The nutritional value of hemp is nothing new. Our ancestors discovered the herb’s vitamin and nutrient rich seeds were an ideal source of food as early as 6,000 BCE. Though the value of hemp was once forgotten in Western cultures, hemp seeds have recently made a mainstream resurgence. Hemp foods and skin care products can now be found in almost every grocery store across the US. Our modern understanding of health and the human body has given the seeds a revitalized role in our lives. With that in mind, here are 10 reasons you need hemp seeds in your life.
1. Ancient medicine
Hemp seed has been used by cultures around the globe for millennia. Ancient Chinese pharmacologists used hemp seeds as natural laxatives. Tonics made with hemp seed, saffron, mint, and beer were used as medicine for labor pains in ancient Mesopotamia. An elixir of leaves, flower, and hemp seed, clarified butter and other herbs was popular in pre-colonial India. The mixture was used to treat cough, bowel complaints, and even impotence.
If our ancestors were smart enough to use it, why aren’t we?
2. Healthy fats
Hemp seeds contain the essential fatty acids Omega-6 and Omega-3. Fatty acids are vital for overall health. Not getting enough of these fats contributes to a variety of health ailments. Psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and ADHD are associated with low levels of fatty acids. These fatty acids are so good for brain health that early supplementation is thought to prevent the onset of psychotic disorders.
But, psychiatric distress isn’t the only reason why we need omega fatty acids. These fats also:
- Promote heart health
- Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Reduce inflammation
- Assist in infant brain development
- Reduce risk of stroke
- Lower blood pressure
- Regulate blood clotting
There’s a trick to omega fatty acids, however. You need to consume them in the proper ratio. As a fun fact, hemp seed naturally contains the perfect balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 for our bodies.
Amp up your morning smoothie with some hemp seeds. These nutritious nuggets are protein packed. Just two tablespoons of hemp seed contain between 7-11 grams of protein, which is comparable to two egg whites. High protein and healthy omega fats mean that you’ll have a stable source of energy and you won’t find yourself hungry again an hour later.
Hemp’s protein quality makes great meat substitution for vegetarians and vegans. In fact, we’ve got a few hemp seed recipes on our website. All of the herbivores out there might like to give these a try:
4. Healthy skin
There are a couple of ways to consume hemp seed for glowing skin. For the most skin care benefits, pick up some hemp seed oil. Though, you can also eat shelled hemp seeds like you would any other type of nut or seed.
The fatty acid content in hemp makes for an excellent treatment for minor burns and rashes. Omega fatty acids increase antioxidant activity, protecting your skin from harmful free radicals. Sun exposure and environmental pollutants are free radicals that can do a number on your skin. The fats in hemp oil protect against such damage.
Those with specific skin conditions can also find relief with hemp seed. A 2005 study found that oral hemp seed supplements drastically reduced eczema flare-ups. Those with acne can also find relief with hemp oil. Hemp oil has been making headlines as a successful acne treatment. The oil provides a nice, light layer of moisture without clogging pores.
Hemp seeds are an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. While certain omega 6 fatty acids increase inflammation, hemp seed contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory fats. Specifically, it’s full of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The body uses these fats to regulate the immune response, turning of pro-inflammatory compounds that cause pain and create havoc in the body.
Studies have shown that these anti-inflammatory properties in hemp provide relief for rheumatoid arthritis. Additional research shows that GLA is an effective treatment for RA, and it is well-tolerated without obvious side effects. Funny enough, these same acids are what make hemp oil so great for acne. Linoleic acids help regulate sebum, which is the oil that naturally coats the skin.
Quality hemp oil contains 50-60% of your daily value of these acids.
6. Gut health
Inside your gut are trillions of tiny microorganisms. It’s our job to feed them. In return, they provide us with a wealth of health benefits, including a healthy immune system, vitamins, and even neurotransmitters like serotonin. What do these bugs like to eat most? Fibre. And lots of it.
Unfortunately, most people who consume western diets are sorely deficient. Fortunately, hemp seeds contain a ridiculous amount of dietary fibre. In fact, hemp seed flour is about 42% fibre. Two tablespoons of hemp seed contains between 10-23% of your daily recommended dose.
Without enough dietary fibre, you can experience all kinds of health issues. First and foremost are gastrointestinal issues. Studies show that high-fibre diets are important in the treatment of IBS. Recurrent abdominal pain is another candidate for a high-fibre diet.
If left untreated, issues with the gut can have implications throughout the body. Those with IBS, for example, often have depression and other psychiatric conditions.
Worried about cholesterol? Hemp can help. Hemp seed contains phytosterols which help the body manage cholesterol. Phytosterols are plant-based cholesterols. They look a lot like the cholesterol produced in our own bodies. But, when you consume phytosterols, LDL cholesterol levels go down. Research has confirmed this, showing that LDL cholesterol is reduced when you take phytosterol supplements.
Cholesterol lowering drugs are some of the most prescribed pharmaceuticals today. Each month, there are over 21 million prescriptions for Crestor, making it the number two prescribed drug in the U.S. We need more research, but perhaps eating more phytosterols can help with this pervasive medical issue.
8. Vitamin E
Hemp seeds are a great source of antioxidant vitamin E. As mentioned earlier, antioxidants protect your cells from damage. Over time, daily stress, lifestyle, and exposure to environmental toxins all cause harm to your cells. Vitamin E fights this cellular combats this damage. This creates a wide range of health benefits, like:
- Heart health
- Brain health
- Cholesterol balance
- Repairs damaged skin and hair
- Improves hormonal health
- Improves vision
9. Enhances endocannabinoid system
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is the network of cell receptors that respond to cannabis. The ECS helps regulate mood, appetite, sleep, pleasure, pain, immune response, movement, and reproduction. The body naturally creates compounds similar to psychoactive THC, called endocannabinoids.
The body needs ample amounts of fatty acids to make endocannabinoids. Hemp seed contains these fatty acids. Our bodies cannot make essential fatty acids on their own, so we need to get them from dietary sources. If we don’t get enough, we can develop certain health problems.
One study found that low omega 3s were associated with low levels of endocannabinoids in mice. These low endocannabinoid levels changed the rodents’ emotional behavior, more or less dampening their mood.
10. Hemp seeds have delicious flavor
There’s one final reason you should eat hemp seeds: they’re delicious. They have a soft, nutty flavor and make a great addition to all sorts of recipes. You can purchase bags of shelled hemp seeds online. Use them to top a cake, throw onto a salad, or make a creamy seed butter spread. Hemp seed milk is a popular dairy alternative for vegans or those with lactose intolerance.
Do you have any interesting uses for hemp seeds? Let us know on social media or in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!