Hemp seeds are the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.
They are from the same species as cannabis (marijuana) but a different variety.
However, they contain only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.
Hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals.
Here are 6 health benefits of hemp seeds that are backed up by science.
1. Hemp Seeds Are Incredibly Nutritious
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts.
Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat. They are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).
They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has been linked to several health benefits (1).
Hemp seeds are a great protein source, as more than 25% of their total calories are from high-quality protein.
Hemp seeds can be consumed raw, cooked or roasted. Hemp seed oil is also very healthy and has been used as a food and medicine in China for at least 3,000 years (1).
SUMMARYHemp seeds are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are also a great protein source and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
Hemp Seeds May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide (3Trusted Source).
Interestingly, eating hemp seeds may reduce your risk of heart disease.
In a large study in over 13,000 people, increased arginine intake corresponded with decreased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker. High levels of CRP are linked to heart disease (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
Additionally, animal studies have shown that hemp seeds or hemp seed oil may reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of blood clot formation and help the heart recover after a heart attack (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
SUMMARYHemp seeds are a great source of arginine and gamma-linolenic acid, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
Hemp Seeds and Oil May Benefit Skin Disorders
Studies suggest that your immune system depends on the balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Hemp seeds are a good source of polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids. They have about a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which is considered in the optimal range.
Studies have shown that giving hemp seed oil to people with eczema may improve blood levels of essential fatty acids.
The oil may also relieve dry skin, improve itchiness and reduce the need for skin medication 16
SUMMARYHemp seeds are rich in healthy fats. They have a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which may benefit skin diseases and provide relief from eczema and its uncomfortable symptoms.
4. Hemp Seeds Are a Great Source of Plant-Based Protein
About 25% of calories in hemp seeds come from protein, which is relatively high.
In fact, by weight, hemp seeds provide similar amounts of protein as beef and lamb — 30 grams of hemp seeds, or 2–3 tablespoons, provide about 11 grams of protein >1).
They are considered a complete protein source, which means that they provide all the essential amino acids. Your body cannot produce essential amino acids and must obtain them from your diet.
Complete protein sources are very rare in the plant kingdom, as plants often lack the amino acid lysine. Quinoais another example of a complete,plant-based protein source.
Hemp seeds contain significant amounts of the amino acids methionine and cysteine, as well as very high levels of arginine and glutamic acid
The digestibility of hemp protein is also very good — better than protein from many grains, nuts and legumes Trusted Source).
SUMMARYAbout 25% of the calories in hemp seeds come from protein. What’s more, they contain all the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source.
5. Hemp Seeds May Reduce Symptoms of PMS and Menopause
Up to 80% of women of reproductive age may suffer from physical or emotional symptoms caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS) 20
These symptoms are very likely caused by sensitivity to the hormone prolactin 21
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), found in hemp seeds, produces prostaglandin E1, which reduces the effects of prolactin Trusted Source.
In a study in women with PMS, taking 1 gram of essential fatty acids — including 210 mg of GLA — per day resulted in a significant decrease in symptoms
Other studies have shown that primrose oil, which is rich in GLA as well, may be highly effective in reducing symptoms for women who have failed other PMS therapies.
It decreased breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability and fluid retention associated with PMS (25 Trusted Source).
Because hemp seeds are high in GLA, several studies have indicated that they may help reduce symptoms of menopause, too.
SUMMARYHemp seeds may reduce symptoms associated with PMS and menopause, thanks to its high levels of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).