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9 Surprising Health Benefits Of Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds, or hempseed, have drawn more attention in recent years from researchers and health advocates alike.

Hempseed is considered a ‘superfood’ for many reasons. And while its link to the cannabis plant remains a barrier, scientists are continuing to discover new benefits of the seed and its derivatives.

Last month, the American Chemical Society published a paper that revealed “just how many healthful compounds hempseed oil contains.”

But while research may still be evolving, it turns out that hempseed has had a long history as a health food. Here are 9 of the most notable and surprising health benefits that hemp seeds may offer.

1. Used as food and medicine for 3000 years

Humans have made use of the hemp plant — and its nutritional benefits — since the beginning of written history. The Ancient Chinese relied on hempseed and hempseed oil as both a food and medicine. In fact, evidence suggests the seed was used in prehistory as well.

Though hempseed is only starting to gain popularity in the West, it remains an important grain in traditional Asiatic food and medicines.

2. Rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals

Hempseed has high levels of fiber and vitamins A, C, and E. It is also rich in minerals, including phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, and has modest levels of iron and zinc.

3. Rich in antioxidants

Hempseed contains high levels of vitamin E, which is one of the most important antioxidants. It also contains tocopherol, which is known to have benefits in Alzheimer’s and atherosclerosis, and phytol, which has both anticancer and antioxidant properties.

4. Fights bad cholesterol

Studies suggest hempseed and hempseed oil can help break down cholesterol as well as prevent problems caused by high cholesterol, including blood clotting.

5. Improves skin conditions

Dietary hempseed oil has also been shown to improve clinical symptoms of atopic dermatitis. A study published concluded that its cholesterol and skin benefits were both due to “the balanced and abundant supply of PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) in this hempseed oil.”

6. Contains perfect balance of fatty acids

Hempseed oil contains a 3:1 ratio of the two essential fats: omega-6 and omega-3. This is the ideal ratio recommended by WHO and Health Canada for cardiovascular health. No other nut or vegetable oil contains this ratio.

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7. Prevents heart disease

Hempseed’s fat profile is believed to help prevent a variety of heart conditions.

A further study published concluded hempseed can prevent blood clotting, which “may be of benefit in the protection against clot-induced strokes and myocardial infarctions.” Another study concluded that hempseed may offer significant protection against stroke.

Finally, the American Chemical Society analysis concluded that the high levels of α-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fat) in hempseed “may have favorable nutritional implications and beneficial physiological effects on the prevention of coronary heart disease and cancer.”

8. Beneficial in degenerative diseases

The same analysis concluded that the level of γ-linolenic acid (an omega-6 fat) in hempseed “provides it with a high pharmaceutical value for degenerative chronic diseases.” According to the authors, these may include atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or certain types of cancer.

9. Reduces inflammation

Hempseed contains a variety of plant sterols and alcohols that are known to reduce inflammation, which is a factor in a wide range of diseases.