Hemp Seeds

The seeds of the hemp plant (botanical name Cannabis sativa) are known as hemp seeds, also called hemp hearts. However, from the technical point of view, hemp seeds are actually small nuts. These crunchy nuts are edible and it is also safe to consume these seeds that enclose only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychotropic chemical, which is the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis and is responsible for causing euphoria. The soft creamy core of hemp seeds has a gentle, nutty savour. Usually, most people consume these seeds raw.

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It is worth mentioning here that various plants belonging to the Cannabis family are commonly known as hemp. In fact, cannabis is a versatile and beneficial plant, which can be utilized to produce oil, fibers, cloth, wax, resin and a wide variety of utility products. Hemp is found growing naturally in nearly all regions of the globe and is considered to be an extremely resilient plant as it possesses the ability to grow and survive in various environmental conditions. However, the major concern of people with the edible products made from hemp is that they have their origin in the cannabis plant and, hence, contain various degrees of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Contrary to this belief, the helm seeds available commercially for consumption contain very less (below 0.5%) tetrahydrocannabinol. Hence, they are considered safe for consumption.

Health benefits

Members of the medical community are of the view that the essential omega-3 fatty acids not only helps to enhance the heart's health, but also diminishes the chances of developing health conditions like heart disease and arrhythmias.

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It has been established that hemp seeds not only enclose elevated levels of omega-3 fatty acids, but also have a beneficial ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. In addition, these seeds also enclose high concentration of an amino acid called arginine, which converts into nitric oxide. It is worth mentioning here that nitric oxide is necessary to dilate the arteries and veins. At the same time, it helps in keeping the walls of the blood vessels elastic as well as smooth.

Various activities such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a low blood pressure and taking part in various types of exercises may be effective in lessening the chances of developing heart failure.

Hemp seeds are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and their healthy ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids can in concert be helpful in decreasing inflammation. Moreover, hemp seeds also contain rich amounts of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is a polysaturated fatty acid that may perhaps also possess anti-inflammatory properties. According to the findings of some studies undertaken on animals, GLA has the capability to work as a strong anti-inflammatory agent. However, other studies undertaken on humans in recent times suggest that gamma linolenic acid (GLA) may not be as effective always.

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GLA is processed in the human body in a very complex manner and this may elucidate why findings of the studies undertaken on humans have been more varied compared to those undertaken on animal. When we examine the findings of these studies, it is crucial to keep in mind that usually researchers use hemp seed extracts in high concentrations in their experiments and also remember that consuming hemp seeds actually produce consequences that are less dramatic.

When inflammation is reduced, it may make it easier for you to manage the symptoms of several chronic diseases in a much better way. Such chronic diseases may include arthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease.

Chronic inflammation may lead to acne as well as atopic dermatitis (AD). In such situation, eating hemp seeds may be helpful as they contain healthy compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects. There may be various dietary causes for occurrence of acne and one of them is deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids. As hemp seeds enclose high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, they can not only reduce the symptoms of acne, but also manage the problem well.

During a review undertaken in 2018, scientists looked at the consequences of changes in diet on skin diseases. The authors of the review found proof of the fact that consuming extra omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in improving symptoms related to acne. However, they were unable to determine the degree of the effects. Further studies are needed to establish this aspect.

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The authors further noted that consumption of plant fibers and prebiotics may prove to be helpful in controlling the symptoms related to atopic dermatitis (AD). It is now established that hemp seeds contain rich amounts of plant fiber.

Rheumatoid arthritis is known to be an autoimmune condition wherein the body's immune system assaults its own tissues resulting in inflammation of the joints. A research undertaken in 2014 on human cells hinted that the oil extracted from hemp seeds may possibly be an effective anti-rheumatic agent. Nevertheless, a review undertaken in 2018 failed to find any scientific proof to suggest that cannabinoids could be used for treating rheumatic diseases effectively. As a result, the authors suggested that further research was needed on the subject.

Fiber is an indispensable element of our diet and it has been associated with enhanced health of our digestive system. In fact, whole hemp seeds are an excellent source of soluble as well as insoluble dietary fibers. They contain 20% soluble fiber and 80% insoluble fiber.

In our gut, soluble fiber turns into a gel-like material and is beneficial in many ways. Moreover, soluble fiber is an important source of nutrients on which beneficial or "good" bacteria in the gut survive. At the same time, soluble fiber can also lessen the spikes in our blood sugar levels, while keeping the cholesterol levels under control.

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On the other hand, insoluble fiber contributes to the bulk in our stool, thereby helping the food as well as waste materials pass smoothly through the gut. In addition, insoluble fiber in our diet has also been associated with lesser chances of developing diabetes.

It is important to note that hemp seeds are the only of its kind of plant material that encloses 21 different amino acids, which makes these seeds a complete protein. In other words, hemp seeds enclose the entire eight essential amino acids, which cannot be produced by our body. Our body has to acquire these amino acids, which are necessary for the numerous internal processes such as weight loss, enhancing muscle strength, reducing stress and many more, through diet.

Aside from containing various plant-based nutrients, especially amino acids, hemp seeds are also loaded with several essential minerals such as magnesium. Magnesium is important because this mineral creates an extremely relaxing and soothing sensation all over our body. In addition, magnesium possesses a variety of stimulating properties on hormones and enzymes that promote sleep.

When a person is administered magnesium, his/her body releases the neurotransmitter called serotonin, which subsequently travels to the brain and is eventually transformed into melatonin. In fact, melatonin is a potent sleep inducer and may help people suffering from insomnia. One serving of hemp seeds encloses almost 50% of our daily requirement of magnesium. Therefore, if you desire to get a sound and invigorating sleep and obtain other benefits of hemp seeds, get a handful of them every day.

In addition to magnesium, hemp seeds also contain a reasonable amount of calcium - an essential mineral for developing bones as well as making them stronger. Calcium also helps to mend the damaged bones and bone matter. What is important is that the calcium obtained from ingesting hemp seeds and the oil extracted from these seeds will help one to reduce the risks of developing several bone-related problems like arthritis and osteoporosis, while enhancing the health of the joints.

Iron is another vital mineral found in hemp seeds. Iron is an essential element for construction of red blood cells (erythrocytes) in the human body. Deficiency of this essential mineral in the body can lead to conditions like anemia. Therefore, if you wish to prevent anemia it is necessary that you intake sufficient amounts of iron from various foods such as hemp seeds. When you suffer from anemia, you experience a variety of symptoms like headache, fatigue, muscle weakness and many more. Moreover, iron is also useful in lowering anxiety and stress.

On the other hand, hemp seeds contain very few calories and low amounts of sodium, making it a complete protein. You can consume these seeds in large amounts and still not gain much weight. Ingesting complete proteins helps your body feel satiated since you have ingested all the essential amino acids through your food. In turn, this inhibits hunger as well as the release of ghrelin (a hormone produce in the stomach and released in the brain, pancreas and small intestine). As a result you don't have the tendency to overeat and gain weight. Moreover, the ingested nutrients are absorbed properly by the body, thereby keeping hunger at bay.

Hemp seeds enclose all the eight essential amino acids, which are not produced in the human body. Hence, they are also called a complete protein. These seeds are also essential for creating new tissues in the body. At the same time, complete protein helps to make the muscle mass stronger and denser. Therefore, consuming the right amount of hemp seeds is an excellent way to enhance the tone of your muscles and remain healthy.

Side effects and cautions

Hemp seeds are not only safe for consumption, but also offer us several health benefits. Nevertheless, you ought to consider a number of things before you add them to your diet, at least for the first time.

In fact, when some people consume hemp seeds for the first time, they complain of upset stomach and/ or diarrhea. In case you also have a similar experience, it is advisable that you start with a small quantity of hemp seeds and see how they work for you.

Hemp seeds may also interact with some medications that you may be taking from before. In fact, hemp seeds can put off formation of blood clots and slow down the formation of platelets. As a result, they may interact with anti-coagulant drugs like warfarin. In addition, diuretics as well as hemp seeds both may cause potassium loss from the body. As a result, taking both hemp seeds and diuretics together may cause the potassium levels in the body to be dangerously low. This, in turn, could have a negative effect on your heart. Hence it is advisable that people taking diuretics should stay away from hemp seeds or vice versa.

Last, but not the least important, some compounds that slow the heartbeat may naturally occur in hemp seeds and these compounds may interact as well as get in the way of drugs that are used for treating irregular heart rhythm. Such drugs include digoxin and cardiac glycosides. So, it would be better if you avoid taking these drugs and hemp seeds together. Like in the case of changing one's diet, it is advisable that you check with your doctor or healthcare provider before taking hemp seeds to find out if they may interact with any medication that you may be taking from before.

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