There are some misconceptions about hemp. Yes, it does come from the same family of plants as marijuana. But no, it won’t get you high. Hemp is the newest kid to come crashing onto the superfood scene and for good reason – it can deliver huge health benefits when added to your diet.
Hemp is a fantastic source of plant-based protein and hemp seeds contain all nine essential amino acids, meaning it’s well-absorbed by our bodies. They are also a fantastic source of iron, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, B-vitamins and zinc, as well as high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
To reap the benefits, I recommend adding a tablespoon of hemp seeds daily to a smoothie, porridge or salad. Or for extra ease, look for products with hemp already included such as hemp-based protein powder or simple nourishing baking mixes!
Check out these ten benefits of adding hemp to your diet:
Improve heart health
There are only a few plants, seeds, or nuts that can compete with the levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in hemp, which benefit the heart by reducing cardiovascular problems. Fatty acids may assist in enhancing blood flow and arterial function while lowering heart rate and keeping it stable.
Boost your brain
The brain is comprised predominantly of DHA, one of two main omega-3 fatty acids. Keeping DHA levels in the brain high can help improve everything from memory, to creativity and even language. Adults with high DHA intake and levels could potentially prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
A 30g serving of hemp seeds contains 1.2g of fibre which is critical in maintaining a healthy digestive system. It features both insoluble and soluble fibres. Insoluble fibres can help prevent issues such as constipation and stomach aches and healthy digestion can also reduce the chance of developing health conditions such as diabetes and colon cancer. Just be sure to drink plenty of water.
Soluble fibres benefit the good bacteria in our gut which can help following a poor diet or taking antibiotics as well as balancing blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Stay full for longer
Hemp seeds contain a small amount of complex carbohydrates, which releases glucose slowly into the bloodstream and prevents that dreaded energy spike and subsequent crash. As a source of protein, hemp is also a great ingredient to introduce for healthy weight management. A portion of hemp protein powder in smoothies can help control your appetite – such an easy addition to what is already going into your blend!
Keep skin clear and supple
With the fatty acids found in hemp, alongside anti-oxidants, vitamins A & E, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorous, adding hemp to your diet is a real treat for your skin. Hemp can help to reduce dryness and boost production of elastin and collagen for wonderfully supple skin.
The anti-inflammatory gamma-linolenic acid can also be found in hemp and is thought to improve acne. Not only do the anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the red swollen spots, but GLA also helps to balance hormones so if your breakouts are hormone-related you might see an improvement on both counts.
Get a better night’s sleep
Hemp is high in magnesium which naturally calms the body and relaxes muscles, promoting good quality sleep. The magnesium and B-vitamins in hemp can also counter the effects of stress, meaning you’ll be able to switch your mind off come bedtime.
Boost iron levels
Low iron is very common and can cause lethargy, chest pain and dizziness. Eating hemp, with its high iron content is a great way to naturally top up your iron intake.
A rich source of protein
Our bodies use protein as building blocks for growth, development and repair so it’s important to make sure your diet provides enough to keep up with repairing all your blood, bones, cartilage and muscles. Unlike most plant-based proteins, hemp seeds contain all 9 essential amino acids (amino acids our body cannot synthesis and must acquire from dietary sources), making it a complete protein. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds provide 10 grams of protein.
The increased popularity of vegetarianism and veganism has demonstrated that meat needn’t be our only source of protein. Add a dose of protein-rich hemp to your breakfast cereals, yoghurts and fruit bowls, or smoothies. At dinner or lunch, sprinkle seeds on top of your salad, grain bowl, or plate of pasta.
Natural anti-inflammatory properties
The omega-6 fatty acid, GLA, is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects similar to drugs like ibuprofen. There has been a long tradition of using plants rich in GLA to manage inflammation in the body and nerve damage, for inflamed skin conditions and for supporting cardiovascular health.
Try incorporating hemp into your diet by:
- adding hemp seeds directly to food
- baking with hemp seeds or baking kits containing hemp
- making hemp milk at home using whole seeds or choosing hemp and oak milk at the supermarket
- choosing hemp protein powder as an alternative to whey.
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