Hemp seeds are the seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.
They are from the same species as cannabis (marijuana) but a different variety.
However, they contain only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.
Hemp seeds are exceptionally nutritious and rich in healthy fats, protein and various minerals.
Here are 6 health benefits of hemp seeds that are backed up by science.
1. Hemp Seeds Are Incredibly Nutritious
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts.
Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat. They are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).
They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has been linked to several health benefits (1).
Hemp seeds are a great protein source, as more than 25% of their total calories are from high-quality protein.
That is considerably more than similar foods like chia seeds and flaxseeds, whose calories are 16–18% protein.
Hemp seeds are also a great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc (1, 2).
Hemp seeds can be consumed raw, cooked or roasted. Hemp seed oil is also very healthy and has been used as a food and medicine in China for at least 3,000 years (1).
Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are also a great protein source and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
2. Hemp Seeds May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide (3).
Interestingly, eating hemp seeds may reduce your risk of heart disease.
The seeds contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which produces nitric oxide in your body (4).
Nitric oxide is a gas molecule that makes your blood vessels dilate and relax, leading to lowered blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease (5).
In a large study in over 13,000 people, increased arginine intake corresponded with decreased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker. High levels of CRP are linked to heart disease (6, 7).
The gamma-linolenic acid found in hemp seeds has also been linked to reduced inflammation, which may decrease your risk of diseases like heart disease (8, 9).
Additionally, animal studies have shown that hemp seeds or hemp seed oil may reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of blood clot formation and help the heart recover after a heart attack (10, 11, 12).
Hemp seeds are a great source of arginine and gamma-linolenic acid, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.