Updated: Jul 4, 2021
What are hemp seeds? Is it a seed, a fruit, a plant?
Well, hemp seeds are the most common form of consumption that many people enjoy daily. Hemp seeds originate from the same species as cannabis (marijuana), but it is a different variety, so don't get confused!
Hemp seeds are actually little nut pieces and have a mild nutty taste. It is often mixed into yogurts, oatmeals, smoothies, or salads for an extra protein boost. Nutritionally speaking, these hemp seeds contain important nutrients such as many healthy fats, protein and minerals. In fact, hemp seeds are over 30% of fatty acids (inoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3)). Omega 3 fatty acids are important as they may help to prevent the formation of blood clots. Additionally, omega-6 fatty acids may be used for reducing the risk of heart disease as it lowers the "bad" (LDL) cholesterol levels and raises the "good" (HDL) cholesterol levels. The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is also in the optimal range. Studies have shown that it may help improve skin conditions such as eczema, dry skin, or itchiness by improving blood levels of these fatty acids.
Hemp seeds are also very high in protein, with more than 25% of their total calories coming from protein. This means that it is a great source of plant-based protein and may be extremely beneficial to vegetarians who may have a harder time consuming adequate amounts of protein. In fact, hemp seeds provide around the same amount of protein by weight of around 11g of protein per serving (30g). What's more, they are a complete protein source, meaning that they contain many of the amino acids that our body cannot make and needs to be taken in through foods. In hemp seeds, they contain amino acids methionine and cysteine and very high levels of arginine and glutamic acid, which help repair tissues and muscles and transports many nutrients in the body. For example, the amino acid arginine helps produce nitric oxide, which is important for regulating dilating blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. Also, the gamma-linolenic acid found in hemp seeds may help to reduce inflammation which helps to decrease the risk of many diseases.
Hemp seeds also are good for digestion as they contain soluble fibre and insoluble fibre, 20% and 80%, respectively. Soluble fibre is important as it helps maintain a healthy gut microbiome, and insoluble fibre adds bulk to your stool and helps waste pass through your gut. Additionally, hemp seeds are great for those who have a hard time digesting legumes to reach their needed protein levels as hemp hearts are easily digestible and do not cause gas.
For recipe ideas, check out these to add a boost of protein AND flavour into your dishes!