The hemp plant is the non-psychoactive cousin of Cannabis sativa—it contains a very low concentration of THC (up to 1 percent) while marijuana is packed with 20 percent or more of the psychoactive constituent. People have been using hemp for tens of thousands of years, but it is only in the recent years that it has received more attention from researchers and health advocates, and for a good reason.
Potential uses of hemp are seemingly endless: from paper to plastic to textile to fuel. In fact, it may even be used in place of the paper traditionally made from wood—unlike paper from wood, hemp paper is recycled more times.
However, besides all practical uses of the plant, you can also take advantage of the nutritional properties of hemp seeds. These truly “magical” seeds are even believed to prevent a variety of heart conditions. Of course, good nutrition combined with regular physical activity can help decrease the risk of heart diseases by normalizing your cholesterol levels and blood pressure, but including hemp seeds into your diet may also keep any current damage to your heart in check.
Hemp seeds are considered a “superfood.” These teeny-weeny soft light-brown seeds are loaded with a serious amount of essential nutrients: vitamins, proteins, trace minerals, fiber, and “good” fats.
Among the health benefits of hemp seeds, first and foremost are the immune boosting qualities of the essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. Hemp seeds are the only seeds that contain a perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6—the two that are not produced by your body and must be received from food. The proper balance of saturated fats in the body is essential for normal functioning and prevention of such conditions as atherosclerosis, strokes, heart attacks.
According to a 2007 study, hemp seeds may prevent blood clotting and myocardial infarction: the unique composition of both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids may provide beneficial effects against a greater variety of cardiovascular diseases. Due their highly-enriched fatty acid content, hemp seeds were also found to have significant cardioprotective effects against ischemia. The researchers also found that Omega-6 in hemp seeds provides them with a high pharmaceutical value for chronic degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and certain types of cancer.
Furthermore, hemp seeds are a rich source of phytonutrients—the disease-protective elements that protect your immunity, tissues, skin, bloodstream, organs, and mitochondria.
Additionally, hemp seeds contain gamma linoleic acids, also known as GLAs, which were found to lower cholesterol in your bloodstream.
Hemp seeds are one of the richest sources of proteins (edestin and albumin). The quantity of proteins there reaches 25 percent of the total whole hemp seed’s weight, which is almost twice the protein of chia seeds or flax seeds. Edestin is considered the most digestible protein due to its closeness to the structure of the protein in human blood. Albumin, also one of the blood transport proteins, is the main protein of the human blood plasma.
Only 1 oz (2 tablespoons) of seeds provide 11 grams of complete protein, which is nearly 21 percent of your daily norm. Furthermore, there are 4 percent of fiber, 15 percent of iron, 21 percent of zinc, 45 percent of magnesium, calcium, and a countless number of vitamins.
Add hemp seeds to your dishes: on top of salads, yogurt, soups, or as a powder to your favorite homemade protein bars, energy balls, and all kinds of baked goods. You can also make delicious nutrient-packed smoothies that will give you energy. No matter which food you add them to—hemp seeds give a little nutty crunch and a supercharged nutrient boost to any food.
Finally, due to their naturally rich, nutty flavor, you may simply eat a couple of tablespoons of them, raw or dry toasted, all on their own.
However, remember that heating the seeds may destroy the nutritional benefits of the fatty acids, so add them to dishes after you cook them.
Once open, store the container or its contents in a refrigerator in order to extend the shelf life – frozen, the seeds may be stored for nearly a year. If you keep the container in your pantry, the shelf life shortens up to 3-4 months.