Have you tried eating hemp seeds yet? This superfood is popping up everywhere lately. Here are five good reasons to give it a try.
1. Hemp Seeds Are a Great Source of Protein
Hemp seeds contain a lot of protein. In fact, hulled Hemp seeds are about 33 percent protein, which means that by weight they have about the same protein content beef or lamb. Recently, health professionals have started recommending that Americans eat more plant protein since research has shown that doing so might improve your health and help you live longer. Not only do Hemp seeds have a lot of protein, but it’s a complete protein, which is rare for a plant. In case you’re not sure what a complete protein is: Proteins are made up of amino acids. Your body can make some of these amino acids by itself, but others—known as essential amino acids—can’t be made by the body, so you need to get them in your diet. While many animal proteins contain all the essential amino acids, and are thus considered complete proteins, most plant proteins do not.
2. They’re Packed Full of Good-For-You Nutrients
Hemp seeds are widely considered to be a superfood because they are packed full of beneficial nutrients. Vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids; they’re all in there, plus many more. The list of potential health benefits from all these nutrients is equally long. For instance, there is evidence that the fatty acids in Hemp seeds can help improve skin conditions like eczema. Other research shows that these fatty acids help reduce the symptoms of PMS and menopause. The nutrients in Hemp seeds are also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, improve your immunity, aid in cellular recovery and development, and improve bone health. Finally, if you’re eating your Hemp seeds unshelled, you’re also getting a ton of fiber, something that most Americans don’t get enough of. Eating lots of fiber can help keep your digestive system healthy, and it may also reduce your chance of developing some serious health problems like obesity and diabetes.
3. Eating Hemp Seeds Might Help You Live Longer
One of the most promising benefits of Hemp seeds is their potential to improve your cardiovascular health, which is something that could save your life. If you’re not thinking about your cardiovascular health already, you might want to start. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States. The fatty acids and other nutrients in Hemp seeds are believed to help lower your risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation, fighting blood clots, lowering cholesterol levels, and reducing your blood pressure.
4. You Could Be Helping the Environment Too
Hemp is not just good for your body. When you choose to eat hemp, you are supporting a crop that has some environmental benefits too. First, hemp is naturally resistant to many pests, and grows vigorously and densely, crowding out weeds, so hemp plants usually don’t require heavy pesticide use. Hemp is such a hardy plant that it often requires minimal fertilizer too. Less fertilizer and less pesticides are both good for the environment. A field of hemp can even improve the soil because it adds nitrogen, and its roots grow deep and loosen up the ground. Hemp’s roots can also absorb harmful toxins in the soil.
5. They Taste Good!
Lastly, hemp seeds don’t just have a long list of possible health and environmental benefits, but they taste good too. The seeds have a mild, slightly nutty flavor, and can be incorporated into all different kinds of foods. You can eat hemp seeds raw or toasted, sprinkled over yogurt, added to smoothies or salads, or use them in baked goods. Hemp seeds are also turned into hemp oil, which can be used in foods like salad dressings. (Note: High temperatures might damage the beneficial polyunsaturated fats in these seeds, so avoid cooking the seeds or the oil at extremely high temperatures.) They are also processed into hemp protein powder, hemp milk, hemp flour, and hemp butter.
So where can you get these versatile and tasty seeds? They’re pretty easy to find. You can order them online, you’ll see them in health food stores, and they are even turning up in lots of mainstream grocery stores. The seeds grow inside small, brown hulls and if that’s the only way you’ve tried them, you may have been put off; they are very crunchy, and tend to get stuck in your teeth. However, a much easier way to eat hemp seeds, and the way they are most commonly sold, is shelled. Shelled hemp seeds are often called hemp hearts, and they are soft enough to eat raw. They are cream-colored or light-greenish, and look similar to sesame seeds. Of course, even a superfood can be bad for you if you eat too much of it, so it’s probably not a good idea to start putting hemp seeds in everything you eat. However, many people are finding that in moderation, hemp seed are a good way to add a little extra nutrition to their diets.
Written By: Andrea C. Nakaya