Hemp Seeds: Why We Love Them & Their Benefits
Despite the bad reputation hemp has in society today, you can enjoy a proper nutrient boost if you add hemp seeds (or hemp oil) to your diet.
Hemp seeds come from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa, which is the main source of concern with some people. Suffice to say, while hemp seeds do come from the same species as cannabis (marijuana), they actually only contain less than 0.5 % of the psychoactive compound in cannabis- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)- making them safe to consume without the fear of accidentally inducing a mind-altering effect.
Once it becomes evident that hemp has no effect on one’s psyche, you soon discover how nutrient dense the seed (which is technically a nut) actually is. Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, potassium as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They also contain gamma linoleic acid(GLA) which contributes to a number of its health benefits. Also, they contain all eight amino acids- making it a complete protein and this, once again, contributes to a number of health benefits for the body; some of which are listed below.
Alleviates symptoms of PMS
While premenstrual syndrome(PMS) seemingly makes one’s menstrual cycle appear worse than it actually is, eating hemp seeds may alleviate the symptoms.
Researchers believe that PMS is caused by sensitivity to the prolactin, which is a hormone found in the body. GLA, found in hemp seeds, is an essential fatty acid which has been linked to reducing the effect of prolactin. Thus, as hemp seeds are high in GLA, there is a belief that hemp seeds can have the same effect.
Be it a seed or a nut, it should come as no surprise that hemp seeds are incredibly dense in fiber, which is essential for a healthy digestive system.
Hemp seeds are actually rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber not only helps to feed the probiotics in the gut as well as easing the passing of bowels, but it is also involved in the lowering of both the levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the body and spikes in blood sugar. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, helps to ease the movement of food and waste through the gut and intestines by adding bulk to your stool. This then reduces the chances of constipation and diarrhea. In fact, one study out of Hong Kong saw that a hemp seed pill treatment was incredibly effective in relieving functional constipation.
Protects heart health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide yet hemp seeds may help to change these statistics.
Aside from being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improved heart health, hemp seeds also contain amino acids. Amongst the amino acids that hemp seeds contain, one of them is arginine. Once it enters the body, arginine produces the gas molecule nitric oxide. Nitric acid helps to lower blood pressure, and in turn the risk of heart disease, by making the blood vessels dilate and relax. In fact, a study published in Nutrition & Metabolism saw how increased levels of arginine intake were linked to a decreased risk of heart disease.
While there are a number of healthy stress-relieving methods out there, consuming foods that contain stress-relieving nutrients can also help. Hemp seeds are rich in magnesium and B vitamins- both of which have been linked to helping alleviate stress. Magnesium deals with neurotransmitters in the brain, helping to alleviate stress whereas B vitamins help in regulating stress hormones in the body.
Hemp seeds in your diet
Hemp seeds can be added to smoothies, yogurts, turned into a milk or even sprinkled onto salads. However, It’s important for athletes to note that while hemp seeds only contain traces of THC, there is a chance that it may be picked up on in urine tests as different manufacturers often supply seeds with levels of THC that exceed the legal limit- The U.S. only allows the growth of hemp seeds with THC concentrations no higher than 0.3 percent. Thus it’s important to educate yourself about the source of your hemp seeds.
Aside from including it into your diet, hemp seeds (or oil) are actually used and included in the manufacturing of a number of things which include skin care products, wax, fuel, plastics, building materials and textiles. In regards to skin care, the oil is extracted from the seeds and used as an ingredient due to its ability to alleviate dry, red, flaking skin. It also has a soothing effects on individuals with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. For those suffering from dandruff, purchasing a shampoo that has hemp oil listed as an ingredient can help to deal with the problem.
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