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The Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

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The nutritional profile of hemp seeds

Amino acids:  Like all plant-foods, hemp seed contains all essential amino acids, but unlike some other plant foods, it contains fairly reasonable levels of both methionine (found more concentrated in grain foods) and lysine (found more concentrated in legume foods). Soy is also a great source of all essential amino acids, but for those wishing to avoid soy, hemp could be a great alternative protein source.

N.B. If you’re looking to boost your protein significantly, it may be worth using a hemp protein powder where some of the fat is removed, to avoid taking in exorbitant amounts of fats and calories.

Iron: Iron is a critical nutrient which is the most common nutrient deficiency in the developed world, particularly amongst infants, children and women of reproductive age.

The advantages of the non-heme iron, found in plant foods, as opposed to heme iron found in animal foods, is that it’s more easily regulated by the body, and thereby less likely to create internal rusting in the body.  The heme iron found in meat is one of the reasons why processed meat is considered a Class 1 carcinogen by the WHO, and red meat a class 2 carcinogen; it has also been associated with diabetes, Alzheimers, liver disease and all-cause mortality.

Whilst ultimately better for our health, non-heme iron requires promoting factors to enhance its bioavailability. To enhance the absorption of the iron in hemp seeds (non-heme, plant-derived iron), combine with something rich in vitamin C; this might mean making up a smoothie with hemp seeds, a non-dairy milk of choice, banana, and some berries. For a post-work out shake, you could eve add hemp protein.

Zinc:  Zinc is another critical mineral which has significant importance in mental, reproductive and immune health, as well as skin and gut integrity.  Hemp seeds are a good source of zinc.

Essential fatty acids ratio:   The ratio between our polyunsaturated fatty acids, Omega 3s and Omega 6s dictate many aspects of our health, particularly those driven by inflammation.  When our intake of Omega 6 is too high, as seen in diets eating a lot of fast and processed foods, using lots of cooking oils or consuming most animal products, our body becomes more inflammatory.  Inflammatory states in the body are tied to the most common ailments we see today, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer.  Higher intakes of Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory and modulating to the immune system, fending off chronic disease conditions and autoimmunity.

Hemp seeds boast an approximately 1:3 ratio Omega 3 to 6; which is seen as a realistic optimum ratio in the current food climate we live in.

Steridonic acid:  One of the common criticisms of plant-based diets is that plants only contain short chain omega 3, alpha-linoleic acid, unlike fish which contains the preformed long chain Omega 3s, EPA and DHA.  These preformed long chain omega 3s are very critical to brain and cardiovascular health.  Whilst there are vegan-friendly algae sources of EPA and DHA, and whilst the body can convert short chain Omega 3 to long chain Omega 3, this depends on a person’s overall diet picture, and their personal physiology. For some people, conversion from alpha-linoleic acid to longer chain forms of Omega 3 can be tough.   Conveniently, hemp seeds provide an intermediary step (steridonic acid) on the Omega 3 family chain, making conversion to longer chain forms easier.

Gamma-linolenic acid:  Gamma-linolenic acid is the anti-inflammatory member of the Omega 6 family. It is a component of lipid membranes and has been shown to be particularly favourable for women to reduce premenstrual syndrome.

Low saturated fat: Whilst hemp seeds are very high in polyunsaturated fats, as with most plant sources of fat, they are low in saturated fat, which has favourable implications for cardiovascular health, and even the microbiota, which itself has far-reaching effects throughout the body.  

Hemp seeds are a valuable part of a plant-based diet

As discussed, hemp seeds contain good levels of iron and zinc, minerals which some people struggle to get sufficient quantities of on plant-based diets.  They also contain good levels and ratios of essential fatty acids for those not consuming fish.

For somebody who’s not including a lot of other balanced amino acid foods such as whole soy products or quinoa, or eating plenty of wholegrain and bean foods, hemp seeds are a really good option to get a broad spectrum of amino acids in the diet.

Why is plant-based protein superior to animal protein?

A wide range of data exists to support the superiority of diets rich in plant foods over animal foods.  Whether we look at long term population studies such as the Adventist Health studies, where we can very easily compare the different health outcomes between healthy meat eaters, vegetarians or vegans, or we observe what the diets look like in the locations of the longest living people on earth (known as the Blue Zones), or we look at the effects of animal protein in the Harvard Health Professionals Study, we find plant-based protein far more favourable to health than animal protein. This latter study of 131,342 participants followed for 27-32 years found replacing processed red meat reduced risk of death by 34% when replaced with plant protein. The least harmful animal protein sources appeared to be poultry and fish; but replacing these with plant protein still reduced risk of death by 6%. With the UN and the WHO recommending adoption of plant-based diets, this viewpoint is far from fringe.

Some of the reasons for this might be that when we choose our protein from plant sources it’s coming free from cholesterol, it’s low in saturated fats, trans fats and environmental toxins, and it’s free from mammalian hormones (which are found in animal products regardless if they’re labelled “hormone-free”).  Plant protein also come packaged with really favourable phytonutrients and antioxidants, and are associated with lower inflammatory states in the body.  One 2017 study on inflammatory markers in vegans showed vegans to have C-reactive protein (a key inflammatory marker) levels under half of that of omnivores. A second study showed vegans to have inflammatory marker 2/3rds that of meat-eating endurance athletes, and a fifth of the levels of CRP seen in those consuming the standard Western diet.

Additionally, the the environmental, societal and ethical costs of a plant-based or plant-predominant diet is far lower than an animal-based diet.  A study by Oxford University went as far as projecting that if by 2050 everybody went vegetarian food-related emissions would fall by 63%, and if vegan, 70%.  It was estimated in total that up to $31 trillion would be saved through reductions in environmental impacts, healthcare costs, lost work time and premature deaths with adoption of a vegan diet globally.

And there you have it, some GREAT reasons to include more hemp and other whole plant foods into your diet!

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Matt Gussin
Matt Gussin
16:41 22 May 21
I've had a pretty horrid time with gut and fatigue problems for over two years and in this time, I have seen countless... doctors, naturopaths, gastroenterologists, Chinese medicine practitioners and so on...Some of which told me to stop my vegan diet, so this was when I searched for a vegan Naturopath and found Camilla.Camilla has been nothing but outstanding since our first contact. She is the first person in my health journey who I feel is genuinely invested in my health and has worked tirelessly to help and provide answers. She is always quick to reply to my lengthy emails and although currently at the early stages of my treatment, every piece of advice and treatment given has been based off facts and logical reasoning.I really recommend Camilla. I have felt very comfortable with her from day one and you will get someone who is knowledgeable, passionate but most importantly, will do her utmost to help you through any problem.read more
Sophie Smith
Sophie Smith
02:36 22 May 21
I would without a doubt recommend Camilla to anyone looking for a naturopath. She is so warm, caring, knowledgable and... helpful. I sought Camilla’s help to work on my severe PMS, heavy and painful periods and PTSD and mental health. From the moment I saw her she went above and beyond and is always there to help whenever I have any questions or concerns. I have just started my treatment plan and feel confident that I will see an improvement with my concerns.Thank you so much Camila xread more
Laura Harper
Laura Harper
02:59 07 Apr 21
I have been working with Camilla for a couple of months now with the aim of treating and managing hair loss, stress,... and anxiety. Camilla's process is incredibly thorough and informative and it has been amazing to not only feel better, but learn SO much in the process. My treatment plan has been very manageable, and Camilla has always made sure I understand why we are doing things rather than just telling me. This ​has really helped me to feel more in control and kept me committed to the lifestyle changes. Prior to working with Camilla, I felt a pretty overwhelmed with information, none of which I could be certain was true or even relevant to my symptoms whereas Camilla's process is so personal, and completely tailored to the individual.Camilla has been so kind, and understanding and has made the whole experience as comfortable and easy as possible. I have been shocked by how quickly I began to feel positive changes, and cant wait to see them continue!read more
Millie Guest
Millie Guest
02:45 04 Mar 21
Camilla is an incredible naturopath. I was recommended by a friend. I was struggling with my energy levels and needed... help to figure out why. The consults were thorough and in-depth and camilla made me feel super comfortable the whole way through.I had bloods done which confirmed i was low on iron as she had predicted. She wrote me an amazing in depth treatment plan, which included when and how to take my supplements with loads of tips & tricks on how to get the most out of them and include more into my diet. She also gave me loads of great recipes to cook to help with my iron intake.It has been over a month into treatment and i feel super energetic and full of life again. It was exactly what i needed to help get back to myself.I couldn’t recommend her enough. If you’re struggling with anything her in-depth knowledge in her field will help you.Thankyou camilla.read more
Sophie Farrelly
Sophie Farrelly
03:42 29 Dec 20
Camilla is very knowledgeable, helpful and has a wonderful nature. She’s caring and goes above and beyond to help. I... can’t recommend her enough. Thank you!read more
J D
J D
02:07 06 Nov 20
Highly recommend. Camilla is a delight, very passionate and committed to getting clients back to their best!
Vivian Ruth
Vivian Ruth
09:03 28 Oct 20
I’m so grateful for the treatment that I received from Camilla. My results improved within a month!! She is very... attentive, knowledgeable and caring. I highly recommend her for everyone!!read more
Chloe Compton
Chloe Compton
10:20 24 Sep 20
I had several online consultations with Camilla. She was a pleasure to work with and very knowledgeable. Her treatment... plan has really helped me and improved my skin condition. Highly recommend.read more
Lilla Magyari
Lilla Magyari
11:16 01 Sep 20
Camilla is an amazing Naturopath! Her knowledge and enthusiasm is absolutely fantastic! She helped me a lot in the past... and still does whenever I need. You can count on her 100%. I only can recommend her!!! 💚 🌱 💚🌱💚🌱💚🌱💚read more
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