What Is Hemp? | Hemp Nutrition Facts And Health Benefits

Rohit Kumar

6 min read | Sep 14, 2020

Hemp Hemp, Hooray!


This is what you will say after knowing how awesome hemp is. Super-rich in minerals and vitamins with a significant amount of protein, hemp is the future of superfoods. Let’s find out how hemp can be a partner in your health journey.

What Is Hemp?


Hemp or industrial hemp is a variety of the cannabis Sativa plant. It is one of the fastest-growing plants. Hemp is often confused with marijuana as both are from the same species.


However, hemp contains only a small amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound in marijuana, but it is high in CBD (cannabidiol), reducing or eliminating its psychoactive effects. Some governments regulate THC concentrations and only allow hemp with low THC content.


Hemp is processed to make commercial items, including paper, clothing, biofuel, biodegradable plastic, oil, food, and animal feed. Hemp seeds are the seeds of the hemp plant. They have a pleasant nutty flavor and crunchy texture.


Naturally loaded with all the essential amino acids and fatty acids, hemp seeds are also used to produce things like hemp milk and hemp seed oil.

Hemp Protein


Protein powder is a popular supplement among athletes, bodybuilders, or those aiming for weight or muscle mass gain. Hemp is a high-quality vegan protein, holding all nine essential amino acids. Hemp seeds have a significant amount of the amino acids arginine, methionine, and cysteine. However, the lysine content in hemp seeds is limited. 1https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1541-4337.12450


The oil extraction by-product of crushed hempseeds is commonly called hemp seed meal. To make hemp protein powder, the manufacturer processes hemp seed meal into powder. One 30 g scoop of hemp seeds provides around 10g of protein.


Typically, animal protein is more digestible than plant protein. However, research suggests that 91-98% of the protein in hemp seed meal is digestible. 2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20977230/ This means our bodies can use almost all the amino acids in hemp protein powder.


Studies have also found that heat processing can reduce the digestibility of hemp protein by about 10%. So, always look for hemp protein powder made from cold-pressed seeds. 3https://dspace.library.uu.nl/bitstream/handle/1874/281033/OnderzoeksverslagJetkuijers.pdf?sequence=1

Hemp Seeds Potential Health Benefits


Hemp Seeds May Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease


Arginine, an amino acid found in hemp seeds, produces nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide makes our blood vessels widen and relax. This lowers our blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease. 4https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21968645/


Whenever there is inflammation in the body, the liver produces C- reactive protein (CRP), which may trigger heart disease. Arginine helps reduce CRP; thus, it protects the heart. 5https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15723738/ Gamma-linolenic acid, a fatty substance present in hemp seeds, reduces inflammation. This may also help lower heart disease risk. 6https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19842026/


Hemp Seeds Are Protein Powerhouses


Besides muscle building, protein plays countless bodily roles, including what we just read about arginine. It also aids in the growth and maintenance of our cells and maintains the body’s pH level.


We all know how vital it is to have strong immunity, especially now. Protein plays an essential role in making antibodies, which fight pathogens that enter our bodies. 7https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17403271/ A powerhouse of complete protein, hemp seeds are an excellent protein source for all of us, especially vegans.


Related Article: 7 Functions of Protein In The Body


Hemp Seeds May Help Prevent Depression, High Blood Pressure, And Diabetes


Hemp seeds are the mine of magnesium. Did you know magnesium is involved in over 600 reactions in our bodies? 8https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25540137/ Magnesium is essential for DNA and RNA synthesis, reproduction, and protein synthesis.


Moreover, magnesium is key to regulating muscular contraction and blood pressure. Magnesium also has a critical role in brain function and mood. A study conducted from 2007 to 2010 involving over 8800 adults revealed a significant association between low magnesium intake and depression. 9https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25748766/, 10https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23950577/


Furthermore, researchers following over 4000 people for 20 years found that those with the highest magnesium intake were 47% less prone to developing diabetes. 11https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20807870/ Magnesium can also lower blood pressure. 12https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19617879/, 13https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9719052/


Whole Hemp Seeds Provide The Benefits Of Fiber


Whole hemp seeds are a good source of dietary fiber. They contain 20% soluble and 80% insoluble fiber. 14https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1541-4337.12517#:~:text=Hempseed%20contains%20approximately%2025%25%20to,%25%20moisture%20(Table%201) Though fiber is not digestible, it benefits the gut in many ways.


Soluble fiber sucks up water and softens our stool. It is also a nutrient for beneficial gut bacteria and may regulate blood sugar spikes and cholesterol levels. 15https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23609775/, 16 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19335713/ Insoluble fiber does not absorb water but adds bulk to the stool and may help with food and waste passage. It may also reduce the risk of diabetes. 17https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18287346/, 18https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17760498/


So, if you are looking to hit your daily fiber intake goals through hemp, buy whole hemp seeds instead of hulled hemp seeds.


Related Article: What Is Fiber? Health Benefits, Food Sources And Daily Requirements


Hemp Seeds Are Abundant In Antioxidants


Hemp seeds contain antioxidants such as phenolic compounds, tocopherols, and phytosterols. They may play a role in reducing the risk for chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and dermatological diseases. 19https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826498/

How To Add Hemp To Your Diet


Hemp seeds are part of the hemp plant. Many edible hemp seed products are readily available in supermarkets or online stores, including hemp protein powder, hemp seed oil, and hemp milk, which may have added nutrients.


Remember, removing hemp seed shells means removing the fiber. While whole hemp seeds have their shell intact, hulled seeds don’t. You can add hemp seeds to almost anything. Here are a few ways to add them to your diet.


-Sprinkle hemp seeds on cereals, yogurt, or salads.


-Drink hemp milk.


-Add hemp seeds to smoothies.


-Blend hemp protein powder with smoothies or shakes, but note that with water, it can form a sandy texture, as it is less processed than other protein powders.


-Use hemp seed oil for salad dressing.


-With hulled hemp seeds, you can prepare hemp milk and hemp protein powder easily at home, saving you a lot of pennies.


There is a plethora of healthy recipes on the internet. Choose whichever you like.

Precautions For Hemp Eating


Hemp seeds should be consumed in moderation as they are high in fat. A large serving of fat may lead to diarrhea. In addition, whole hemp seeds are full of fiber. Excessive fiber may cause issues like constipation, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.


To avoid this, eat a moderate amount of hemp paired with sufficient water intake, or eat hulled hemp seeds for less fiber content. Those with low blood pressure should take only small servings, as hemp seeds can lower blood pressure.


Under the following conditions, consult your doctor before consuming hemp products:


-Allergy to hemp or cannabis.


-Pregnancy, as there is not much research about hemp intake during pregnancy.


-While taking any of the medications like anticoagulants, antiplatelets, cardiac glycosides, and diuretics.


-If you are going to have surgery, as hemp seeds may lower blood pressure


-If you are undergoing a drug test as an athlete or for another reason because, in some cases, consuming hemp can lead to a failed urine test


Note that the levels of THC in hemp depend on the supplier or manufacturer. A few hemp products claiming to contain little or no THC may still cause a failed drug test because of THC contamination or improper labeling. So, always go for a reliable brand.


Nevertheless, the US and Canada strictly regulate hemp products. Only hemp having 0.3% or less THC is legal in the US. CBD and THC have many health benefits. But considering the possibility of side effects or interactions with medications you are taking, it’s best to talk to your doctor or cannabis or CBD clinician before eating hemp products.

Final Thoughts


Hemp is a food you do not want to miss. Chockful of minerals, protein, antioxidants, and fiber, hemp is indeed a superfood. Although it comes from the same species as marijuana, hemp lacks THC, meaning it does not have a psychoactive effect.


Hemp is one of the best plant-based proteins, containing all the essential amino acids. Be it heart health, controlling blood sugar, antioxidant potential, or gut health; hemp contributes to them all. However, there are some precautions a few of us need to take before eating hemp seeds.


As hemp is a high-fat food, eat it in small amounts to avoid diarrhea. Whole hemp seeds are full of fiber. Excessive fiber may sometimes cause abdominal issues. Eating hemp in moderation with sufficient water can help.


If you think you are exceeding your daily fiber requirement, eat hulled hemp seeds. Those who have low blood pressure should also consume small servings of hemp.


Pregnant women, those on the medications listed above, individuals planning for surgery, athletes and others who undergo a drug test should consult their doctors before consuming hemp. For others, I recommend including cold-pressed hemp (up to 30g per serving) as a part of a healthy diet.


What do you think about this article? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!


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About Rohit Kumar

Rohit Kumar is an avid writer who puts a lot of his emotions in words through his articles. Today, he is a certified fitness expert with a vast knowledge on nutrition and has contributed to the pages of Fabulous Body with his articles.


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