Cannabis seeds may come from cannabis sativa plants or hemp plants, but either way they don’t have any ability to get you high. Some consider them a superfood — packed with nutrition — and seeds from hemp or cannabis plants are indistinguishable in regards to nutrition. For generations, these seeds have provided a healthy additive to foods, and in Colonial America they were sometimes boiled into milk to treat coughs. Today, you may see hemp seeds in various forms (milled, chopped, whole) in grocery stores. The seeds can be added easily to foods, and have a range of health benefits. While the seeds of cannabis don’t have the same medical uses as cannabis flowers, they’re still worth considering as a part of general wellness. Here’s why.
1. Packed with protein
Marijuana seeds are technically a nut, albeit a very tiny one. Like any nut, they’re packed with protein and vitamins. How packed? Did you know professional fighter Rhonda Rousey eats a bunch of them every morning? The seeds are not just a great source of protein, they’re one of the best plant-based proteins out there, and colonial farmers would add them to livestock feed to bulk up their animals. Shelled seeds can contain about 35% essential fatty acids and 25% plant protein. And yes, hemp bodybuilding powder is totally a thing.
2. Omegas and vitamins
Speaking of nutrition, the body can’t produce omega fatty acids, a critical component of life. Good news, hemp seeds have a ton of these, plus vitamins. Fish oil is a well-known source of omega-6 and omega-3, but hemp seeds have these in a 3-to-1 ratio. These omegas may also help brain function, staving off disorders like Alzheimer’s. Oh, and they also help the heart by maintaining blood pressure.
What superfood would be complete without an array of vitamins? Don’t worry, these seeds have vitamins A, B, D and E. They also have minerals like zinc, iron, potassium, sodium and sulfur. Some of these can help boost immunity, but the seeds are especially full of E, which is great for healthy skin, hair and nails. Turns out the seeds are a good source of arginine, which helps blood vessels relax, plus the gamma-linoleic acids help inflammation — all of which helps keep your cardiovascular system in shape and may even prevent heart attacks. If all that wasn’t enough, hemp seeds are one of the few plant-based sources of every single amino acid your body needs. This isn’t just a superfood, it’s the complete package.
Part of eating healthily is ensuring you’re getting copious amounts of fiber. Yes, the seeds are full of fiber as well. They’re rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber turns into a sort of gel in the gut, and is a food source for beneficial bacteria, something we’re becoming more aware of these days as it can impact everything from our nutrition to mental health. Insoluble fiber can help digestion by sort of dragging bad stuff with it (yep, all the way out of the body), and has been linked to a reduction in diabetes.
One caveat: “hemp hearts” have had their outer hulls removed, which is where most of the fiber is. If you’re adding seeds to your diet and need the fiber, be sure to get whole hemp seeds.
Other health benefits
OK, you’re getting the idea that hemp seeds are packed with all sorts of goodness. Because of their nutrient-dense nature, combined with fiber, they’ve been linked to a number of benefits beyond prevention of things like heart disease. For example, the GLA (gamma-linoleic acid) in them can help reduce prolactin, which causes PMS pain and may also help with issues around menopause. The seeds have been shown to help with anxiety, depression, and especially insomnia. And of course, the seeds are part of general wellness care — but they are also showing promise to help prevent tumors. From skin care to cancer care, hemp seeds have earned their reputation as a superfood many times over.