Hemp and marijuana seem to be popular topics in today’s society since legalization measures were passed in Colorado and Washington last November.
While it’s common to hear advocates proclaim the medical benefits of marijuana, studies have shown that hemp seeds can also provide a number of health advantages as well, making them a unique dietary staple that has yet to be fully recognized.
Before we get into the plenty of nutritional benefits that hemp seeds have to offer, it’s important to note the difference between hemp and marijuana.
You see, marijuana and hemp are actually two different names for the same species of Cannabis plants. But where they differ is in their THC content. Hemp are strains of Cannabis that only contain trace levels of THC, meaning they cannot get you “high” or intoxicated in any way. Although some may still try, hemp is definitely not something that should be smoked. On the other hand, hemp seeds are fast becoming a popular health food – and for good reason, we might add.
Hemp seeds happen to be one of the most nutritious of health foods and appear to possess a unique combination of the healthy aspects of seeds as well as the medical benefits of marijuana. It might be hard to imagine how this could be, so let’s take a look at the facts.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of hemp seeds is that they contain omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) in a ratio of 4:1 – the ideal ratio recommended by the World Health Organization for fatty acid intake.
Why is this important? EFAs are required by the human body for maintaining good health, but cannot be synthesized on their own, meaning that EFAs can only be obtained through a balanced diet. What’s more, no other nut or vegetable oil contains EFAs in the same ratio as hemp seeds, which makes them one of the healthiest sources of EFAs that are known today.
But that’s not all. The oil from hemp seeds contain other healthy fats as well, namely polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). You might be familiar with PUFAs if you are one of the many who take fish oil supplements on the daily, which are also rich in PUFAs. However, plant sources of PUFAs have been found to be more tolerated by the human body, which makes a good argument for switching from fish oil to hemp seeds.
The important part of all this is that regular intake of PUFAs and EFAs has been linked to the prevention of diabetes and various forms of heart disease. They are also believed to help prevent and even improve the outcome of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which are two of the most common ailments among the aging population.
If this still isn’t enough to convince you to scribble hemp seeds down on your grocery list, consider this fact. Hemp seeds contain all 21 known amino acids, which makes them a more complete source of protein than eggs, meat, milk, and soy. Vegetarians, take note.
What’s more, hemp seeds are also rich in soluble and insoluble fibers. Fiber is another key component of a healthy diet, helping to reduce blood glucose and cholesterol levels as well as regulating movements of the bowel.
Finally, hemp seeds contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including the highly coveted Vitamin E. Vitamin E is one of the most well known antioxidants and is commonly available as a dietary supplement. Antioxidants also provide tremendous health benefits and have been shown to reduce the risk of diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and arthritis, among many others.
Whether you happen to be a diet fanatic or not, the bottom line is that hemp seeds are one of the most nutrient-rich health foods on the market today. While hemp cultivation is still prohibited under US federal law, almost half a million pounds of hemp seeds are imported by the States every year and are commonly available in grocery stores in the form of shelled seeds, oil and flour. It might be just hearsay, but they taste great too!