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6 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

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Hemp seeds are the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.

They are from the same species as cannabis (marijuana) but a different variety.

However, they contain only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.

Hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals.

Here are 6 health benefits of hemp seeds that are backed up by science.

Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts.

Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat. They are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).

They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has been linked to several health benefits (1).

Hemp seeds are a great protein source, as more than 25% of their total calories are from high-quality protein.

That is considerably more than similar foods like chia seeds and flaxseeds, whose calories are 16–18% protein.

Hemp seeds are also a great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc (1, 2 ).

Hemp seeds can be consumed raw, cooked or roasted. Hemp seed oil is also very healthy and has been used as a food and medicine in China for at least 3,000 years (1).

Summary Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are also a great protein source and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide ( 3 ).

Interestingly, eating hemp seeds may reduce your risk of heart disease.

The seeds contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which produces nitric oxide in your body ( 4 ).

Nitric oxide is a gas molecule that makes your blood vessels dilate and relax, leading to lowered blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease ( 5 ).

In a large study in over 13,000 people, increased arginine intake corresponded with decreased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker. High levels of CRP are linked to heart disease ( 6 , 7 ).

The gamma-linolenic acid found in hemp seeds has also been linked to reduced inflammation, which may decrease your risk of diseases like heart disease ( 8 , 9 ).

Additionally, animal studies have shown that hemp seeds or hemp seed oil may reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of blood clot formation and help the heart recover after a heart attack ( 10 , 11 , 12 ).

Summary Hemp seeds are a great source of arginine and gamma-linolenic acid, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Fatty acids may affect immune responses in your body ( 13 , 14 , 15 ).

Studies suggest that your immune system depends on the balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Hemp seeds are a good source of polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids. They have about a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which is considered in the optimal range.

Studies have shown that giving hemp seed oil to people with eczema may improve blood levels of essential fatty acids.

The oil may also relieve dry skin, improve itchiness and reduce the need for skin medication ( 16 , 17 ).

Summary Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats. They have a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which may benefit skin diseases and provide relief from eczema and its uncomfortable symptoms.

About 25% of calories in hemp seeds come from protein, which is relatively high.

In fact, by weight, hemp seeds provide similar amounts of protein as beef and lamb — 30 grams of hemp seeds, or 2–3 tablespoons, provide about 11 grams of protein (1).

They are considered a complete protein source, which means that they provide all the essential amino acids. Your body cannot produce essential amino acids and must obtain them from your diet.

Complete protein sources are very rare in the plant kingdom, as plants often lack the amino acid lysine. Quinoa is another example of a complete, plant-based protein source.

Hemp seeds contain significant amounts of the amino acids methionine and cysteine, as well as very high levels of arginine and glutamic acid (18).

The digestibility of hemp protein is also very good — better than protein from many grains, nuts and legumes ( 19 ).

Summary About 25% of the calories in hemp seeds come from protein. What’s more, they contain all the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source.

Up to 80% of women of reproductive age may suffer from physical or emotional symptoms caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS) ( 20 ).

These symptoms are very likely caused by sensitivity to the hormone prolactin ( 21 ).

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), found in hemp seeds, produces prostaglandin E1, which reduces the effects of prolactin ( 22 , 23 , 24 ).

In a study in women with PMS, taking 1 gram of essential fatty acids — including 210 mg of GLA — per day resulted in a significant decrease in symptoms ( 22 ).

Other studies have shown that primrose oil, which is rich in GLA as well, may be highly effective in reducing symptoms for women who have failed other PMS therapies.

It decreased breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability and fluid retention associated with PMS ( 25 ).

Because hemp seeds are high in GLA, several studies have indicated that they may help reduce symptoms of menopause, too.

The exact process is unknown, but the GLA in hemp seeds may regulate the hormone imbalances and inflammation associated with menopause ( 26 , 27 , 28 ).

Summary Hemp seeds may reduce symptoms associated with PMS and menopause, thanks to its high levels of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).

This is a detailed article about hemp seeds and their health benefits. Here are 6 ways that consuming hemp seeds can improve your health.

Cannflavin & 10 Facts on Hemp Sprouts

by Viola Brugnatelli · Published December 6, 2017 · Updated December 6, 2017

We have already touched upon the topic of hemp sprouts in a short article titled: “10 reasons for eating hemp sprouts”. It’s an old article, dated june 2014 which I wrote few minutes after the illuminating discourse of Professor Giovanni Appendino at the plenary seminar of the annual ICRS symposium.

Many of you have asked to provide a more in-depth insight, and I agree that the topic is really important, that’s why I am teaching about it in a continuing medical education (CME) course in my homecountry.

Talking about hemp sprouts means talking about daily diet, and prevention, so it should be a knowledge accessible & understandable to all: so that’s why I decided to make this video on 10 facts on hemp sprouts, enjoy!

Hemp seeds anti-inflammatory effects

With a complete source of all essential amino and fatty acids, hemp seed is a complete nutritional source. Well over 80% of its total fat content its composed of PUFA Omega 6 (like LA) and Omega 3 (like ALA). Hemp seeds are amongst the only edibles seeds containing significant concentrations of other 2 PUFA, ω-6 GLA & ω-3 SDA . These compounds decrease the formation of inflammatory prostanoids from arachidonic acid. There is substantial evidence to show that consumption of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFAs) is associated with health benefits. (1, 2)

Hemp seeds, and so hemp seed oil, offer the unique property of:

  • Increasing tissue concentration of anti-inflammatory ω-3 PUFA
  • Decreasing the production of inflammatory eicosanoids

And you might be wondering, what does all of the above has to do with sprouts & cannflavins?
WAIT! We are getting there…

Sprouts are nothing else than seeds allowed to grow. Many of us include in our daily diet hemp seeds; Either whole, de-hulled, hemp seed oil or flours are becoming increasingly popular foods amongst the health-conscious.
Hemp sprouts are less known of, so here are at least 10 good reasons for including them in your daily staples:

1) Sprouting makes seeds more digestible

Sprouting inhibits phytic acid, & neutralises enzyme inhibitors helping to avoid bloating (the number one reason people don’t like to eat so much legumes and pulses).
Sprouting also generally lowers the total fat content & converts the dense vegetable protein to simpler amino acids, helping our bodies to assimilate easier their nutritional contents. (3,4)

2) Sprouting makes seeds become more alkaline

Seeds and oils aren’t very alkaline compared to other plant based food, like vegetables. When we sprout seeds, these become closer to the “state” of vegetables, and hence becoming more alkaline, which it’s an important quality of foods that help us maintain a balanced physiology free from inflammation. (5)

3) Sprouting increases vitamin & nutrient content available

This is true for any kind of sprout: vitamins like vitamin C increase after sprouting. It is such an old knowledge that Chinese sailors used to carry mung beans when on long journeys at sea to sprout them in order to obtain sufficient amounts of vitamin C & prevent scurvy. (6)

What happens with hemp sprouts? The anti-inflammatory ɣ-linolenic acid (GLA) which we mentioned earlier increases of 30% from seed to sprout! (7)

Fatty acids composition of seeds and sprouts from the Ermo variety of hemp

Each data represents the mean of three replicates ± standard deviation (7)

Fatty acid (relative %) Seeds Sprouts
Linoleic 57.53± 0.2 58.00± 0.31
α-Linolenic 24.53± 0.14 24.55± 0.17
Oleic 9.97± 0.06 10.01± 0.07
γ- Linolenic 1.08± 0.01 1.42± 0.03
Palmitic 4.96± 0.13 4.18± 0.207
Stearic 1.94± 0.01 1.85± 0.04

4) Sprouting does not induce formation of cannabinoids

This is pretty straightforward: with sprouting the plant does not produce cannabinoids, meaning that there is no psychotropic effect, making it a safe product for use as a dietary item for anyone, from children to elderly to pregnant women.

5) Sprouting induces the formation of unique flavonoids

In some hemp varieties sprouting induces the formation of prenylated flavonoids like cannflavins, cannabispiranes, canniprenes, which are present in the leaves and flowers of hemp and not the seeds.

Flavonoids are secondary metabolites of plants. Plants produce them to protect against oxidative stress, pathogens and from UV radiation. Flavonoids found in Cannabis plant present anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and neuro-protective properties.

6) Cannflavin is a flavonoid unique to hemp sprouts

Cannabis produces about 20 flavonoids (that we identified), some in common with other plants (like apigenin, kampferol or quercetin) & other unique to the cannabis plant like Cannflavin, which is actually a mix of two closely related flavonoids, CFA and CFB. (8,9)

Flavonoid Also found in
Apigenin Cooking herbs
Cannflavin Only cannabis
Kampferol Capers, kale
Luteolin Spices & herbs
Quercetin Green vegetables
Vitexin Pseudocereals

7) Cannflavin has considerable anti-inflammatory activity

The anti-inflammatory effect of cannflavin was found already in 1985 and shown to be higher than that of aspirin. Cannflavin is equipotent to cannabinoids in inhibiting inflammatory prostaglandins & leukotrienes.
Cannflavins are in fact the first flavonoids having direct inhibitory activity on the two crucial enzymes in the biosynthesis of these pro-inflammatory mediators, (5-LO & PGES-1). (7,10) Such dual inhibition is considered a pharmacological strategy in order to intervene with inflammatory diseases and might be superior over single target in terms of:

  • increased efficacy
  • lower side effects

8) Daily hemp sprouts consumption offers potential clinical benefits

Flavonoids have a long elimination life from our bodies, meaning that it is possible to achieve bio-active concentrations of cannflavins in plasma and tissues with a regular consumption, for example from our diet.

Although this is hasn’t been tested in more details yet, the scientists studying cannflavins suggest that the best intake for cannflavins is within their fatty omega-3 matrix, (like when they are found in sprouts) & could help increase the activity & absorption of cannflavins. They suggest that 20 g of daily fresh hemp sprouts are probably sufficient for obtaining significant concentrations of these anti-inflammatory molecules. (7)

9) Not every hemp sprout is the same!

Seeds that have been gamma radiated or sterilised won’t germinate. But what about the seeds that do germinate? Is every hemp sprout equal?

10) Sprouting is easy & cost efficient

The best part of all is that in order to obtain all these wonderful nutritional benefits we don’t really need much!
Think about sprouting seeds like imitating springtime:

  1. Make sure your hands and all surfaces are clean & sterile
  2. Allow your seeds to keep constant moisture & sufficient warmth (the cooler the T, the slower the germination)
  3. Leave the seeds in peace & dark for 4 to 5 days
  4. Be very gentle when touching them (avoid touching their taproot).

It sounds way more complicated than it is.

I believe they are so cost effective & easy to make that could become part of meals in hospitals & could really make a difference in supporting the health of elderly or chronic patients.

Conclusions

I hope you liked this insight on hemp sprouts as a dietary item, if you would like to learn more you can check the references down below, or get in touch with us: we provide a donation-based consultation so that is up to you to decide how valuable is for your life the information we provide.

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Hemp sprouts and cannflavin are unknown to most but great anti-inflammatory. Here are 10 good reasons for including them in your daily staples: read more