Hemp seeds are a rich source of nutrients. Part of the hemp plant, these seeds are technically a nut that can be eaten raw or used to make milk, oil, cheese substitutes, or protein powder.
While related to the cannabis plant, hemp seeds have little to none of the psychoactive compound THC found in marijuana. For centuries the seeds have been used for oral and topical applications to treat and prevent certain health issues. A growing body of modern clinical research is backing up many of these claims.
Hemp seeds’ nutty flavor and versatility also make them a great substitute for the levels of protein, essential fatty acids, and other nutritional benefits found in meat and dairy products.
Hemp seeds can be:
- Eaten raw, roasted, or cooked
- Shelled as hemp hearts
- Cold-pressed to produce hemp seed oil
- Used for non-dairy hemp milk and hemp cheese
A 30 gram serving (three-tablespoons) of raw hemp seeds contains:
- Calories: 166
- Protein: 9.47 grams
- Fat: 14.6 grams
- Carbohydrates: 2.6 grams
- Fiber: 1.2 grams
- Sugar: 0.45 grams
Hemp seeds are also good source of:
- Vitamin E
Hemp seeds also contain high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
Hemp seeds are a great source of lean protein for vegetarians and vegans and are easy to add to your meals. They’re particularly great for vegetarians following a high-protein diet, such as the Slow Carb Diet. You can sprinkle them on salads, noodles dishes and vegetable stir-fries, or add them into a morning breakfast bowl or smoothie. But what nutrients are you getting when you do? What is the nutritional value of hemp seeds?
According to CalorieCount, one serving of hemp seeds, which is three tablespoons, provides:
- Calories: 180, Calories from Fat 126
- Total Fat 14.0g 22%,
- Saturated Fat 1.5g 8%, Polyunsaturated Fat 10.0g, Monounsaturated Fat 1.5g
- Potassium 300mg 9%
- Total Carbohydrates 2.0g 1%
- Dietary Fiber 2.0g 8%
- Protein 10.0g
- Vitamin A: 0%, Vitamin C: 0%, Calcium: 2%, Iron: 20%
Essential Fatty Acids
Hemp seeds are great for getting a little extra protein here and there, but most people love hemp seeds for their essential fatty acids, that is, their Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
Three tablespoons of hemp seeds (one serving) provide 7.5 grams of Omega-6 fatty acids and 3 grams of Omega-3 as well as 0.6 grams of Super Omega-6 Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) and 0.3 g Super Omega-3 Stearidonic Acid (SDA). Along with flax oil and flax seeds, hemp seeds are one of the best vegetarian and vegan sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Along with protein, fiber, and iron, hemp seeds are also a great source of a host of other vital nutrients, including magnesium, thiamin, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese and Vitamin E.
Possible health benefits of consuming hemp
The nutritional content of hemp is linked to a number of potential health benefits.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming two 3.5-ounce servings of fish, especially oily fish, each week. This is because fish is a major source of omega-3 fatty acids. If a person does not regularly consume fish, they may not be getting enough DHA or EPA.
Hemp is a plant-based source of concentrated omega-3 fatty acids. However, the fatty acids that hemp contains are alpha-linolenic acids (ALA), which are poorly converted to DHA and EPA in the body at a rate of only about 2 to 10 percent.
Despite this inefficient conversion rate, hemp is one of the richest sources of ALA, and so still represents a very good source of healthy fat, particularly for those who do not consume fish or eggs.
Hemp contains a specific omega-6 fatty acid called GLA and hemp oil contains an even higher percentage of GLA.
Hemp seeds also contain phytosterols, which help in reducing the amount of cholesterol in the body by removing fat build-up in the arteries.
Hemp contains all 10 essential amino acids, making it a good plant-based protein source. Hemp does not contain phytates, which are found in many vegetarian protein sources and can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals.
Magnesium plays an important role in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, including the metabolism of food and synthesis of fatty acids and proteins. Magnesium is involved in neuromuscular transmission and activity and muscle relaxation.
Magnesium deficiency — which is especially prevalent in older populations — is linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, and osteoporosis. Nuts and seeds like hemp are some of the best sources of magnesium.
Research suggests that people experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) may be able to alleviate symptoms such as bloating, insomnia, leg swelling, weight gain and breast tenderness by ensuring an adequate intake of magnesium. Magnesium combined with vitamin B6 appears to beTrusted Source most efficacious in these instances.
Nutritional benefits of hemp seeds
These seeds are full of nutritious compounds, including:
Hemp seeds contain almost as much protein as soybeans. In every 30 grams (g) of seeds, or about 3 tablespoons, there are 9.46 gTrusted Source of protein.
These seeds are a complete source of protein, meaning that they provide all nineTrusted Source essential amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks for all proteins. The body cannot produce nine of these acids, so a person must absorb them through the diet.
Relatively few plant-based foods are complete sources of protein, making hemp seeds a valuable addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Hemp seeds are especially rich in an amino acid called arginine, which has benefits for heart health.
2. Unsaturated fats
The health benefits of polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, are becoming increasingly well known.
Hemp seeds are a great source of essential fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an omega-3.
The body cannot produce essential fatty acids, and the body must absorb them from the diet. They are crucial for long-term health.
The ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s is also important.
In general, people tend to eat too many omega-6s and too few omega-3s, but adding hemp seeds to the diet may help to promote a balance.
According to results of a 2015 animal study, incorporating hemp seeds and hemp seed oil to hens’ diet led to eggs with increased levels of omega-3s in the yolks and a more healthful omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
Also, hemp seeds are low in saturated fats and contain no trans fats.
Much of the fiber in a hemp seed lies in its outer hull, or shell. If possible, purchase hemp seeds with the hulls intact.
However, even without the shells, hemp seeds are a god source pf fiber, with three tablespoons containing approximately 1.2 gTrusted Source of fiber.
Consuming enough fiber every day can:
- reduce the appetite
- help with weight management
- work to stabilize blood sugar levels
- promote the health of the gut
4. Minerals and vitamins
Hemp seeds contain an impressive array of vitamins and minerals and are especially rich in:
- vitamin E
They are also a good source of iron, zinc, and B vitamins, including:
- vitamin B-6