In this article, I’d like to share some nutritional science about the health benefits of hemp seeds, an often-overlooked superfood, along with some of my musings about incorporating hemp hearts in my diet.
I’ll start with the most obvious health benefit: One ounce (28 grams, or two tablespoons) of hemp seeds contains 300 mg magnesium, which is close to the DV for this mineral (420 mg). And if we’re stressed out and overworked, we may need even more magnesium, as stress depletes this mineral.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical or health practitioner, and no part of This Blog, or the websites and products I mention and link to on This Blog, is intended as professional medical or health advice, and should not be considered as such. Consult with your doctor(s) about starting any course of treatment, taking any supplements, or changing any (dietary, exercise, etc.) routines. Note that natural supplements and even some foods may interfere with certain medications. Here are my Full Terms and Conditions.
Why is magnesium important in the body?
Magnesium is most important for the health of muscles (including the heart) and brain function (it’s essential in nerve transmission, aids memory and learning functions, relaxes the nervous system, and helps lift one’s mood and reduce stress and anxiety, among other things).
But this mineral, in fact, impacts all the organs in the body and plays a key role in the health of bones (contributes to bone density) and peripheral nerve function as well, including by regenerating nerves at the site of an injury. Magnesium is also important in the production of energy, as it works with many enzymes to regulate the metabolism. And if you’re looking for ways to lower your elevated blood pressure, magnesium may help with that too.
Magnesium fights inflammation and oxidative stress. If you are careful to increase your intake of magnesium-rich foods, you’ll notice that your level of the C-reactive protein (CRP) will decrease. CRP is a marker of chronic inflammation and of inflammation caused by injury or infection.
There’s much more. For an extensive overview of the ways in which magnesium contributes to physiological functions, see this 2017 Scientifica article on “The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare.”
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Vitamin E
For a long time, I took Mg effervescent tablets, but as I’m trying to take as few natural supplements as possible, I looked for ways to get my necessary magnesium intake from foods. And after trying various nuts and seeds, I finally decided to also go, every other day, with hemp hearts for this purpose (after hemming and hawing, I decided to use only 1 teaspoon every other day, so as to leave enough room for other seeds — flaxseed, sesame, and others — as well), even though as with walnuts and other nuts, and as with other seeds, hemp hearts contain a lot of vitamin E as well (77% DV per ounce), which is a blood thinner. (Vitamin E also interferes with some drugs. But vitamin E is important.)
One problem with some natural supplements, when they don’t make you ingest tons of one nutrient, is that they come with a combination of minerals, vitamins, micronutrients, and other components. The omega-3 supplement I take, for instance, contains several other nutrients, including 100% DV of vitamin E — which I don’t want, because I’m getting more than enough vitamin E from my food intake.
But could then the ideal be to eat fish like herring, sardines, or salmon every day? I remember how back in communist times here in Romania there was a slogan on billboards, “No meal without fish.” Of course, fish with every meal is too much, but some experts say that eating some fish almost every day can be a good idea for most people. Again, though, these experts disagree, because too much protein is a bad thing — and then the fish can be contaminated with mercury and other substances, not to mention microplastics.
So it may be best, after all, to take an omega-3 supplement, even with that extra vitamin E (but again, that may pose problems for some people!) and get one’s protein (mainly) from hemp seeds and other plant sources, along with alpha-linolenic (ALA) omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re going that route, you may be happy to learn that an ounce of hemp seeds contains 18% DV of protein from eighteen amino acids, including all nine essential amino acids — which is to say, hemp is a complete protein (well, almost: while it does include all nine essential amino acids, it only meets the threshold requirements for eight of them, being, nevertheless, very close on the ninth one). As for their omega-3 content, hemp seeds are, indeed, a good source of ALA fatty acids.
Fiber, Zinc, Iron, and Phosphorus
One ounce of hemp seeds also contains 8% DV of fiber, 34% DV of zinc, 41% DV of phosphorus, 22% DV of iron, and other nutrients. As a side note, though, beware of 140% DV of manganese, a mineral that should not be ingested in excess. It plays a role in bone health and various other bodily processes, including as an antioxidant, but if your liver is impaired it can accumulate in your blood and brain, with harmful effects. (That said, most whole grains and many other common foods are rich in manganese.)
Omega-3s and Omega-6s
As I’ve mentioned before, hemp seeds also contain lots of omega-3 alpha-linolenic fatty acids. Our bodies can’t process them as easily as it does the ones in oily fish, but ALA omega-3 fatty acids are important in their own right as essential omega-3s that you must get from food. Do note, however, if you’re worried about your vision, for instance, that fish rich in DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids do protect better against macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Antioxidants and Cholesterol-Busting Nutrients
Back to hemp seeds, they also contain many other antioxidants besides the vitamin E, zinc, and manganese mentioned above. They are a good source of phenolic compounds and phytosterols, and the latter, along with the omega-6 linoleic acids in this foodstuff, can help reduce total and LDL cholesterol.
Hemp Seeds Help Fight Depression
Speaking of these omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, I’d also like to mention a 2014 study on Japanese adults, which concluded that alpha-linolenic and linoleic acids in those individuals’ blood serum were associated with decreased depressive symptoms. And then magnesium helps with depression too!
And yes, hemp seeds may also help you if you’re looking to lose some weight. Part of it is their magnesium content, which can increase the metabolism and suppress the appetite. And then, as I’ve also mentioned, hemp hearts contain healthy fats (mostly; they do contain some saturated fats as well) and fiber, so a tablespoon of hemp seeds mixed with yogurt can work as a healthy snack that can make you feel full on very little food (but lots of nutritional value).
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I leave you to ponder these wonderful health benefits packed into hemp seeds. I personally find this superfood pretty amazing — and so very easy to include in one’s diet!
Please note that it’s important to get quality hemp seeds.
You may be aware of this already, but hemp and marijuana are two different things. Hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC. Interestingly enough, when it comes to seeds, they all should contain only “trace amounts of THC and CBD.” This led to a decision by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2022 whereby cannabis seeds of all kinds are considered legal hemp if they don’t exceed the 0.3 percent THC limit. In the case of marijuana, however, the seeds may get contaminated with these cannabinoids during harvesting and manufacturing.
To a happier, healthier life,
P.S. I’d appreciate a pin/share if you found this post helpful in any way! Thank you!