Rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients, hemp, when extracted in its seed form, is considered one of the most powerful superfoods around. Offering a whole host of health benefits from building muscles and improving digestion to treating eczema and reducing PMS – here’s what this potent plant seed can really do for your health.
What is hemp?
Whilst hemp does come from the same family of plants as marijuana – the hemp plant is a variety of Cannabis sativa – it doesn’t have the same mind-altering effects that you get from cannabis. So no, it won't get you high (if you were at all worried/hopeful).
There's a distinct difference between psychoactive and non-psychoactive forms of hemp. Hemp seeds are not psychoactive, in fact they contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is only one of the strains of chemicals – known as cannabinoids – produced by the cannabis plant. So, the only thing you’ll be getting high from (albeit a very different kind of high) is your new healthy lifestyle.
What are the health benefits of hemp?
These highly nutritious, small, brown seeds are rich in protein (hemp seeds contain almost twice as much protein as chia seeds), fibre, and healthy omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, as well as vitamins A, C, E and the B-group, so they’re good for your heart health, immune system, metabolism, joints, skin, energy and brain function. They’re rich in antioxidants too, so they also protect against cell damage caused by free radicals, which makes you less prone to illness and disease.
In truth, there isn’t much they aren’t good for.
The hemp seeds are the primary part of the hemp plant that is edible. The leaves can be used to make tea, but the seeds are the part that contain most of the plant’s nutrients. In fact, hemp seeds have over 30% fat, including essential fatty acids. The health benefits of hemp, therefore, primarily come from its seeds.
What’s the difference between hemp seeds and hemp oil?
Hemp seeds are, quite simply, as the name implies — the seeds of the hemp plant. Sometimes, the seeds are also referred to as hemp hearts. The seeds are the most nutritious part of the plant, and they can be eaten whole or without the hull.
They are high in insoluble and soluble fibre, rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) — studies have shown that the GLA in hemp seed oil has an anti- inflammatory effect in the body, helping a whole host of health ailments including reducing risk of blood clots, various forms of heart disease, PMS symptoms and skin irritation — as well as a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Keen to try them? Try our Three Six Nine Australian Grown Hulled Hemp Seeds 250g
Hemp oil (also called hempseed oil) is made from the seeds of the hemp plant; it’s made by cold-pressing hemp seeds into an omega-rich oil that’s usually used for cooking, due to its high level of healthy nutrients including:
- Essential fatty acids (EFAs)
- Minerals (such as zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron, and more)
- Antioxidants (such as Vitamin E)
But the oil can also be used topically on the skin and hair as a moisturiser and conditioner – studies have shown that hemp oil can significantly improve dry, itchy skin conditions such as eczema.
Try: Three Six Nine Australian Grown Hemp Seed Oil 200mL
Hemp also comes in milk, protein powder, flour, coffee, tea — there's even a hot chocolate blend — and supplement formulas, but they’re essentially all made from the seeds. This is where all the amazing nutrients come from.
Three Six Nine Hemp Protein Powder 250g
Three Six Nine Australian Hemp Flour 750g
Three Six Nine Hemp Coffee 250g
Three Six Nine Hemp Hot Chocolate 200g
What else can hemp seeds help with?
Hemp seeds, hemp oil, hemp powder – whatever way you use it, you’ll reap the health rewards.
Here are just some of the benefits of hemp seeds:
They’ll give you energy
Hemp seeds are rich in B vitamins to improve energy levels and brain function, and amino acids, the building blocks of protein, which are needed for metabolism, energy production and cellular rejuvenation.
They’re packed with healthy Omega-3s
Hemp seeds contain the perfect 3-to-1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which is considered the optimal ratio for heart and brain health. Many experts believe these essential fatty acids aid good brain and heart health as well as boosting circulation and the immune system.
These superfood seeds are high in insoluble and soluble fibre, which means they help to keep your digestive system running smoothly. Insoluble fibre helps add bulk to your stool, while soluble fibre acts as a prebiotic and feeds the “good” bacteria in your gut.
They may reduce PMS
Studies suggest that the gamma-linolenic acid found in hemp seed oil has a direct modulating effect on prolactin, the hormone that’s associated with symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Yes, that means they can help with cramps, cravings, mood swings, painful breasts, bloating – you name it, hemp has got it covered.
More research from the Journal Reproductive Health also found that women who consumed two grams of EFAs daily over a six-month period experienced a reduction in pre-menstrual syndrome symptoms. Just to put that into context, you can get the same amount of EFAs in a single serving of hemp oil or hemp seeds, so they’re even more effective than other EFAs.
They’re rich protein
Protein is essential for the health of your muscles and organs. Unlike most plant-based protein sources, hemp seeds are one of just a few plant foods that are considered “complete” proteins, containing all the essential amino acids.
Your body can also absorb hemp seed protein better than many other plant-based proteins. If you choose to follow a plant-based diet, adding hemp seeds to your food is a quick and easy way to get more protein when your body needs it.
Protein helps to build muscle mass too, so skip the protein powders and add a dose of protein-rich hemp to your smoothie instead, to switch things up.
They’ll help you sleep
Hemp is rich in magnesium – a mineral that naturally calms the body and relaxes muscles, so a serving a few hours before bed could help you get a restful night’s sleep.
They’re great for your skin and hair
Thanks to the anti-inflammatory effects of its fatty acid content, the oil in hemp seeds helps balance the lipids in your blood, which in turn reduces skin dryness and itchiness – the painful, uncomfortable symptoms often associated with eczema.
Hemp seed oil’s lipid profile closely matches that of our own skin. This means that when it’s applied topically it penetrates to the deeper layers of the dermis, encouraging skin growth and new cell generation. The result? A smoother, plumper, radiant complexion and a more even skin tone.
You can also use in your hair as a natural conditioner, for softer, silkier, stronger locks.
They’ll literally keep you healthy
The cocktail of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in hemp seeds can stave off illness. Hemp oil is rich in vitamin E, which helps to keep your immune system strong. It also acts as an antioxidant, helping reduce free radicals that can cause cell damage in your body. These free radicals can cause degenerative illnesses such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, as well as premature ageing (of the skin).
Tempted to indulge? Browse our collection of hemp products here!
Loved our advice on hemp seeds and hemp seed oil? We've got plenty more health and beauty advice on our Health & Wellness Edit, guaranteed to give your body a well-deserved boost. Is your skin prone to blemishes? Here are 11 skincare mistakes that could be seriously damaging your skin. Suffer with back pain? Here's how to tell if it's muscular or spinal.