by Denise Foster
Let’s shift gears this month and consider the health benefits of the superfood hemp seeds.
Whole hemp seeds contain up to 35 percent healthy oils, 25 percent protein, 30 percent carbohydrates, 15 percent fibers, and vitamins and minerals such as phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc. What you won’t find in hemp seeds or hemp seed oils are cannabinoids. There are no phytocannabinoids, like CBD or THC, in the seeds or oils.
Hemp seeds can be used as a garnish in salads or mixed into smoothies for a boost of protein and healthy fats. Vegans can appreciate that hemp seeds are second only to soy as a plant source of protein. Hemp seed oil is used primarily in cooking as a moisturizing topical and daily nutritional supplement. Hemp seeds are a rich source of gamma- Linolenic acid—an omega-6 polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) that protects against nerve damage and is also helpful in treating skin disorders, such as eczema. Oils extracted from hemp seeds are rich in PUFAs, especially linolenic (an omega-6 fat) and alpha-linolenic (an omega-3 fat) acids, with a desirable ratio of 2:1 and 3:1, respectively, for optimal health.
Hemp seeds can be used as a garnish in salads or mixed into smoothies for a boost of protein and healthy fats.
A balanced PUFA profile increases the body’s metabolic rate and promotes the burning of fat. Linolenic acid is needed to build our body’s own endocannabinoids, 2-arachidonoyl glycerol, and arachidonoyl ethanolamide. Studies have found differences in body weight after administering just 30 mL per day of hemp seed oil for four to eight weeks. But that’s not all: hemp seed oil has been found to inhibit the conversion of fats into low-density lipoproteins (‘bad’ cholesterol), so it can be used to restore a healthy cholesterol level in the body. Hemp seeds themselves provide all nine essential amino acids, which are crucial building blocks for all our body’s tissues and physiological processes.
Hemp seeds are high in one specific amino acid, arginine, which dilates blood vessels in the body. Many individuals use arginine to treat cardiovascular conditions and erectile dysfunction. Hemp seeds inhibit the production of a powerful blood vessel constrictor known as angiotensin, reducing blood pressure. Studies have also shown that hemp seeds inhibit the collection of platelets, decreasing the risk of stroke or heart attack. Hemp seeds suppress appetite, thus lowering sugar cravings, and because of their fiber content, they help the body feel full after a meal, reducing the amount of food intake. This tiny superfood also has antioxidant properties, inhibiting cancer cells and tumor growth, and can enhance the body’s immune and inflammatory responses. More than likely, you have already seen hemp seeds and hemp seed oils on your local retail shelves. As food or as one of the ingredients in a variety of beauty products, it reduces aging in the skin, promotes new skin growth, and penetrates the skin layer to treat eczema, psoriasis, and acne.