The 4 qualities of hemp seeds that make them so healthy
As modern society faced the many downsides of its lifestyle, healthy foods and eating habits are amongst the strongest trends that people turned their attention to. Rightfully so.
One of the side effects of this phenomena was the growing misuse of the marketing term “super food” which ended up being associated to almost anything that had a bit of vitamins and proteins, just for the sake of getting extra clicks and purchases. Yet the concept itself is important, because there really are a handful of foods that could deserve to be called as such and that should really be present in most people’s diets.
Hemp seeds certainly deserve to make this elite list of super foods and to avoid any type of doubt, here is a list of 4 qualities that they have and the benefits that they bring.
1) Minerals and vitamins:
Various vitamins and minerals combined together are essential to a healthy lifestyle because they literally perform hundreds of roles. They help us convert food into nutrients, repair cellular damage, heal wounds, strengthen bones, improve our immune systems, strengthen our teeth, keep our vision sharp and the list goes on.
Hemp seeds hold a valuable list of vitamins and minerals, making them great contributors towards reaching the suggested Daily Value (defined as a percentage per 100g of serving), while in some cases covering it completely.
– Thiamine/B1 (111% of DV)
– Riboflavin/B2 (24% of DV)
– Niacin/B3 (61% of DV)
– Vitamin B6 (46% of DV)
– Folate/B9 (28% of DV)
– Vitamin E (5% of DV)
– Vitamin C (1% of DV)
– Calcium (7% of DV)
– Copper (80% of DV)
– Iron (61% of DV)
– Magnesium (197% of DV)
– Manganese (362% of DV)
– Phosphorus (236% of DV)
– Potassium (26% of DV)
– Zinc (104% of DV)
With such an important list, it’s no wonder hemp seeds can contribute to a healthy body.
But there’s more!
Fibers are a component of plant-derived foods that isn’t fully broken down by our digestive enzymes. They can play a vitally important role as they can change the nature of the gastrointestinal tract, while at the same time changing how other nutrients and chemicals are absorbed by our body.
The term “vitally” was not used loosely in the paragraph above, as the list of stabilizing functions and benefits that they have on our body demonstrates:
– Balances intestinal PH
– Lowers total and LDL cholesterol
– Increases colon efficiency
– Promotes functionality of the upper gastrointestinal tract
– Promotes general health of the gut
– Stabilizes levels of sugar in the blood
– Helps with weight management
– Reduces appetite
The thin shell surrounding hemp seeds is where most of the fiber can be found, therefore buying hemp seeds that still have their hull is a healthier choice with regards to fiber content.
With that said, hulled hemp seeds still have an average 4g of fiber in a 100g serving, which is about 16% of the suggested 25g DV.
Proteins are fundamental for the growth and development of cells. Our body can’t generate proteins, therefore we must use nutrition to get them.
Bare with me because this is important in order to fully understand this amazing quality of hemp seeds.
We don’t just eat proteins to get proteins. Our bodies break down proteins from our food and then use the amino-acids by chaining them together, generating new proteins. Out of the 20 kinds of amino-acids, 9 of them can only be obtained through nutrition, which is why they are called “essential” amino-acids. When all 9 of the essential amino-acids are present within a protein, that protein can be defined as complete. When just one of the essential amino-acids is missing, that protein is called incomplete.
Hemp seeds contain 18 of the 20 amino-acids, but most importantly, they contain all 9 of the essential ones!
This is not something special when considering animal products, however when it comes to plant-based foods very few actually have all 9 essential amino-acids and can therefore generate complete proteins. So few in fact that you could literally count them with one hand, which makes hemp seeds very special and incredibly important for people who are cutting back on meat and dairy.
100g of hulled hemp seeds contain about 31.5g of protein, which is a very notable 64% of the suggested 50g DV.
4) Unsaturated fats
Unsaturated fats are another essential element that humans can only obtain through diet.
Fats are fundamental components of cell membranes and the correct ratio between the various types can determine the health of those membranes. This is why having too many saturated fats, or unsaturated fats of only one kind can create problems in the long run, with the most common being increased cases of inflammation.
The difference between saturated and unsaturated fats is that the latter ones are not saturated with Hydrogen, which basically makes them less caloric but most importantly, more reactive.
This is why saturated fats have become vastly present in the modern diet, as they allow (processed) food to keep its qualities for longer periods and through higher temperatures.
For these same reasons unsaturated fats have been widely removed from most of the food we eat and even when they are present there is often one predominant type. This means that finding natural food sources that allow us to obtain them evenly must be done consciously and regularly.
One kind of unsaturated fat that is harder to find and often missing from most people’s diets is the Omega-3, ALA (α-linolenic acid). This type of unsaturated fat is most commonly found in plant oils or seeds, most of which however have found little commercial use, therefore hemp stands out as one of the most easily available sources of ALA.
Other really important fats found in hemp seeds are Omega-6 fatty acids, with the most useful of them all being GLA (Gamma linolenic acid). This particular fatty acid has been linked to several health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory abilities.
A 100g portion of hemp seeds will contain roughly 43% of unsaturated fats, of which about 10g would be Omega-3s and almost 30g would be Omega-6s.
With a 65g DV of fats (in general) suggested by the FDA, hemp seeds can definitely be an important ingredient to consider in our daily meals.
With all the qualities that we have just seen, it becomes easy to understand why hemp seeds can be a solid foundation to a healthy diet.
Vitamins, minerals, fibers, complete proteins and unsaturated fats all in one seed.
The medical benefits that have received scientific support so far range from better digestion, reduced risk of cardio-vascular diseases (1,2,3), reduced inflammation, improved skin condition and more importantly for women, reduced symptoms of PMS or menopause.
They can be eaten raw, roasted, cooked, hulled or not hulled. The choice is yours.
Whichever way, it’s a healthy choice.