Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant. With cannabis possessing such notoriety, people often dismiss hemp and its amazing nutritional value. Yep, that’s right! Hemp has an array of nutritional benefits that many people are ignoring due to erroneous views on the similarity of hemp and marijuana.
A quick disclaimer: They aren’t the same thing. While they are both varieties of cannabis, marijuana is the only one that is used recreationally, as it possesses high levels of a psychoactive compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which makes users feel ‘high.’ Hemp, on the other hand, possesses less than 0.3% THC by definition, and many products derived from this plant only contain negligible amounts. In other words, hemp and hemp-based products cannot get you high.
For this reason, we think more people should pay attention to the incredible nutritional benefits that hemp has to offer. Here are just 5 of the many advantages you can derive from hemp.
1. Hemp Seeds May Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
The seeds of the hemp plant are called, simply, hemp seeds, and you can buy them in many health stores. They are known for being a very nutritious food source, with some even calling them a ‘superfood.’
Heart disease is the number one killer throughout the world. This worrying statistic is what is driving so many campaigns to get active and lose weight, but heart disease can also be caused by other genetic and lifestyle factors – not just weight.
Hemp seeds contain lots of amino acids, including one called arginine, which produced nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a gas that makes the blood vessels dilate, allowing for lowered blood pressure. High blood pressure is often associated with heart attacks, which is why this is important.
In a study at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, increased arginine intake correlated with decreased levels of C-reaction protein (CRP). CRP is an inflammatory marker which is often linked to heart disease. The study was conducted on more than 13,000 people.
This isn’t all. Hemp seeds also contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which has also been linked to reduced inflammation. This may help you to avoid heart attacks and the like.
Further animal studies have demonstrated that both hemp seeds and hemp seed oil may reduce blood pressure, help to avoid the formation of blood clots, and help the heart to recover after a heart attack.
2. Hemp is a Great Protein Source
Hemp protein is commonly sold on the market as a plant-based protein source. It looks just like any other protein powder, but it is made by grinding down hemp seeds. This means that hemp protein possesses all the wonderful benefits of hemp seeds, one of which is the astounding protein content.
Approximately 25% of the calories in hemp seeds come from protein. This is high for a plant protein, as it is similar to beef and lamb (when compared by weight). Additionally, hemp seeds can be considered a complete protein source – which many plant-based proteins cannot – because they contain all the essential amino acids.
Plant protein is gaining popularity lately as people are beginning to realise how much better plant-based proteins are for the diet. This is not to say that everybody should be vegan, as animal products are nutritional, too, but plant-based proteins are much healthier and pose a lower risk of high cholesterol and heart conditions than animal proteins.
3. Hemp Seeds May Benefit Skin Disorders
The fatty acids found in the body might affect immune response. It is thought that this may be to do with a balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Hemp seeds contain lots of both omega fatty acids, with an approximate ratio of 3:1 omega-6 to omega-3 – this is considered to be within the optimal range.
Hemp seed oil may have the potential to relieve dry skin, improve itchiness, and reduce the need for any skin medications. Furthermore, it might be able to improve the appearance of eczema by improving the levels of essential fatty acids in the blood.
4. Hemp Milk is a Great Plant-based Alternative to Cow’s Milk
Like many other plants, milk can be made from hemp. For lactose intolerant people and vegans, plant and nut milks are very important, but why choose hemp?
Hemp contains calcium, just like regular cow’s milk. Just one glass contains half of the amount of calcium that adults need each day. It also contains phosphorous which, like calcium, is necessary for healthy bones. Magnesium is also a feature in hemp milk, which contributes to healthy bones, normal calcium transport, and a healthy heart. It also supports your muscles and nerves; Talk about an all-rounder!
Vitamins B and D also appear in hemp milk. One cup of hemp milk provides ¼ of the vitamin B-12 that you need each day, a vitamin that helps you to create blood cells.
5. Hemp Can Aid Digestion
Whole hemp seeds contain plenty of fibre, 20% soluble and 80% insoluble. Both of these types are important.
Soluble fibre forms a gel-like substance in the gut. It supplies valuable nutrients for digestive bacteria (healthy bacteria!) which keep your gut in good health. Furthermore, this substance may also reduce the risk of spikes in blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Insoluble fibre adds bulk to faecal matter, which helps waste pass through the gut with ease. A high intake of insoluble fibre has also been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes.
Note, however, that hemp hearts will not provide this benefit. It is the shell of the hemp seed which is rich in fibre, so hemp hearts (de-shelled hemp seeds) will not provide you with these nutrients.
Should I Be Eating Hemp?
Hemp is a wonderfully versatile plant. Not only can it be used in construction and textiles, and not only is it useful in agriculture, but hemp is also incredibly nutritious. The seeds in particular are excellent sources of a range of necessary components in your diet, including essential fatty acids, amino acids, and protein. Hemp milk is also very beneficial, making it a great alternative to cow’s milk.
Clearly, hemp should be a regular part of our diet. Hopefully, it will be able to shed itself of a negative association with marijuana and take up its rightful place in our lives as a superfood.
If you’re interested in cooking with hemp, check out our amazing recipes incorporating hemp and CBD!