Hemp seeds are a superfood that have been eaten in Asian and Europe for at least 5,000 years. They’re now becoming known as a superfood, and they’ve definitely earned their title.
Hemp seeds are one of the best superfoods available, especially for vegetarians and vegans. They’re high in vegetarian protein, and contain all the essential amino acids; so they’re a great food to boost energy. They’re also an excellent source of magnesium and are one of the best vegetarian sources of zinc. As you may know, vegetarians are more likely to become zinc deficient than meat eaters, so this is great news.
Hemp seed oil is also excellent for vegetarians, for two different and important reasons. It has an excellent balance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. What’s more, hemp seed oil contains stearidonic acid (SDA) and gammalinolenic acid (GLA). Hemp seed oil is one of the only oils that contain both of these two fatty acids.
The SDA content is a boon for vegetarians. Like ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), SDA gets converted to the fatty acid EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which you can only get by eating fish. EPA and DHA are important fatty acids as they’ve been proven to promote cardiovascular health, brain health and development, and good eyes and eyesight.
While ALA has various health benefits, very little of it converts to EPA and DHA. Some studies show the conversation rate is between 0.2% and 21%, but the majority of studies show it’s only 0.05%.
SDA, on the other hand, is much more promising, as 20 - 30% gets converted to EPA.
GLA is also important to optimum health as it promotes cardiovascular health, hypertension, and lowers VLDL and LDL cholesterol levels.
No, but there has been some confusion about the relationship between hemp seed and the hemp plant (Marijuana). The two are related, but there’s one big difference, hemp seed doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the substance that makes people high, and it’s the reason it’s classified as a drug.
Hemp ranks right up there with flaxseeds and chia seeds, but there are some differences in nutrition content and protein. Hemp seeds are higher in protein and shine in their magnesium, iron and zinc content. Plus, neither flax nor chia seeds contain SDA or GLA (although chia does have LA (linolenic acid) which gets converted to GLA).
|Hemp||10.3 grams||.9 g||162|
|Chia Seeds||4 grams||10.6 g||137|
|Flax Seeds||5 grams||7.6 g||150|
The following is per one ounce (approximately 2 tablespoons).
|Hemp Seeds||2.7 mg||179 mg||3.2 mg|
|Chia Seeds||n/a||n/a||1.0 mg|
|Flax Seeds||1.6 mg||110 mg||1.2 mg|
According to the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA), hemp seeds are also high in manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin E.
Like flax and chia seeds, hemp is easy to add to your diet. They have a nutty flavor and texture that work well when added to your favorite breakfast cereal. You can also throw a tablespoon into a smoothie, or a glass of almond milk. And, they’re an excellent added ingredient for health bars. Since they're high in protein, they’re a perfect after-workout food for a quicker recovery.
You can find hemp seeds online and in your local health food and specialty stores.
Self Nutrition Data: Hemp Seed
Hemp Seeds and Hemp Seed Oil as Food, The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA)
“Hemp Seed: The Most Nutritionally Complete Food Source in the World,”Hemp Line Journal, July-August 1992, pp. 14-15, Vol. I No. 1, Lynn Osburn
National Institutes of Health, Zinc
“Fishy Fat From Soy is Headed for U.S. Dinner Tables,” Science News, Janet Raloff, April 9, 2011
University of Maryland Medical Center, Omega-6 Fatty Acids