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Chapter 7 – Hemp Seed ( Cannabis sativa L.) Proteins : Composition, Structure, Enzymatic Modification, and Functional or Bioactive Properties Hemp ( Cannabis sativa L.) is a source of Find out what the research says about hemp seeds, who should have them, and how they may affect your health. Good Hemp delves into what exactly hemp hearts are, how they differ from hemp seeds, and why they are beneficial for your health and wellbeing.

Chapter 7 – Hemp Seed (Cannabis sativa L.) Proteins : Composition, Structure, Enzymatic Modification, and Functional or Bioactive Properties

Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is a source of nutritious seeds that have been used as human food for thousands of years. The seeds contain nonmedicinal levels (<0.3%) of the psychoactive compound called δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and, therefore, are different from medicinal marijuana. Currently, hemp seed is processed mainly by mechanical pressing to extract the valuable oil, while the residue is used to produce various protein-rich food products. Hemp seed contains the salt-soluble globulins or edestin (~75%) and the water-soluble albumin (~25%) as the main storage proteins. Hemp seed proteins have a high level of arginine and a sulfur-rich protein fraction, two unique features that impart high nutritional values. Functional property evaluations have shown that hemp proteins form high-quality emulsions with oil droplet sizes similar to those of milk-based emulsions. A novel hemp seed protein concentrate has been shown to have >70% solubility at pH 4.0–6.0, whereas most plant proteins are typically insoluble. Addition of hemp seed protein to polycystic kidney disease rat diet led to reduced pathological intensity of renal disease and amelioration of associated cardiovascular impairment. Moreover, hemp seed enzymatic hydrolysates have proven effective during in vitro and in vivo tests as antioxidant and antihypertensive agents. Therefore, hemp seed proteins and hydrolysates have the potential to be used as ingredients to formulate functional foods.

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Hemp Seeds: Are They Good for You?

Hemp seeds are a rich source of nutrients. Part of the hemp plant, these seeds are technically a nut that can be eaten raw or used to make milk, oil, cheese substitutes, or protein powder.

While related to the cannabis plant, hemp seeds have little to none of the psychoactive compound THC found in marijuana. For centuries the seeds have been used for oral and topical applications to treat and prevent certain health issues. A growing body of modern clinical research is backing up many of these claims.

Hemp seeds’ nutty flavor and versatility also make them a great substitute for the levels of protein, essential fatty acids, and other nutritional benefits found in meat and dairy products.

Hemp seeds can be:

  • Eaten raw, roasted, or cooked
  • Shelled as hemp hearts
  • Cold-pressed to produce hemp seed oil
  • Used for non-dairy hemp milk and hemp cheese

Nutrition Information

A 30 gram serving (three-tablespoons) of raw hemp seeds contains:

  • Calories: 166 : 9.47 grams
  • Fat: 14.6 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 2.6 grams : 1.2 grams
  • Sugar: 0.45 grams

Hemp seeds are also good source of:

Hemp seeds also contain high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.

Studies have shown that the ideal ratio for the fatty acids in hemp seeds is 3 to 1. At this ratio, these fatty acids help to support healthy cholesterol levels, immune system function, and may help regulate your metabolism.

Potential Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are an excellent source of plant-based protein. They contain all nine essential amino acids, and research suggests that hemp’s protein content is well-absorbed by our bodies.

In addition to this protein load, hemp seeds history is tied to their potential health benefits. Many modern studies have backed up several of these claims.

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Hemp seeds’ health benefits include:

Heart Health

Hemp seeds are a great source of magnesium, which helps regulate your heartbeat and is linked to the prevention of coronary heart disease. They also contain Linoleic acid, which one study found reduced participants’ cholesterol levels by 15% and may act to reduce blood pressure.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

One of the omega-6 fatty acids in hemp seeds is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA,) which may have anti-inflammatory effects similar to drugs like ibuprofen. One study found a 75% reduction in arthritis-associated pain in participants after nine months of GLA supplementation.

Skin Conditions

Hemp oil can be used in cooking to add nutritional benefits to your meal, and it can also be applied topically to the skin. Studies have found that hemp seed oil can relieve the symptoms of eczema and improve dry or itchy skin.

Research is ongoing, but hemp seed oil’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects may also help to treat acne.

Brain Health

The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in hemp seeds is the optimal level for nutritional benefit. This balance supports both heart and cognitive health and is often lacking in most diets..

Hemp seeds also contain plant compounds called terpenes. While research is ongoing, studies suggest that terpenes may help protect the brain and prevent tumor growth.

Potential Risks of Hemp Seeds

While the fat content in hemp seeds comes primarily from its healthy essential fatty acids, eat them in moderation to meet your recommended daily consumption of fat. High fat intake can also cause nausea or diarrhea.

Other things to consider before adding hemp seeds to your diet include:

Medication Interference

Hemp seeds may interact with certain medications including anticoagulants.

Studies have shown that hemp seeds reduce blood clotting, which can interact with blood-thinner prescriptions.

Pregnancy Concerns

There is not enough clinical research to show that hemp is safe either orally or topically for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, so it is not recommended.

Cannabis Dependence

Hemp seed shells can contain trace amounts of THC, the active psychoactive compound in marijuana. People with a previous dependence on cannabis may consider looking for an alternative.

Digestive Problems

The fiber content in hemp seeds can cause digestive discomfort like bloating, nausea, or constipation in large amounts. Make sure to drink plenty of water when eating hemp seeds to help avoid gut problems.

Show Sources

Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. “Cannabis sativa (Hemp) Seeds, Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, and Potential Overdose.”

Biochemical Education: “The action of vitamin K and coumarin anticoagulants.”

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: “Evaluating the Quality of Protein From Hemp Seed (Cannabis sativa L.) Products Through the Use of the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score Method.”

Journal of Dermatological Treatment: “Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis.”

Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostatis: “Dietary hempseed reduces platelet aggregation.”

Oilseeds and fats, Crops and Lipids:“A short review on sources and health benefits of GLA, The GOOD omega-6.”

Mayo Clinic. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet.”

Nutrients: “Dietary Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease: A Review with Emphasis in Epidemiological Studies.”

Nutrition & Metabolism: “The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed.”

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Plant Science: “Terpenes in Cannabis sativa – From plant genome to humans.”

PLOS One: “The ameliorative effect of hemp seed hexane extracts on the Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation and lipogenesis in sebocytes.”>

The British Medical Journal (BMJ): “The importance of a balanced ω-6 to ω-3 ratio in the prevention and management of obesity.”
The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behaviour Letter: “FDA on CBD in pregnancy and breastfeeding”

What Are Hemp Hearts and What Do They Do?

Whether you enjoy a splash of dairy-free milk in your morning coffee, are partial to a plant-based protein smoothie, or like a sprinkling of seeds on top of your porridge or salad, there’s a whole host of ways you can incorporate hemp into your diet. But the most versatile of the bunch has to be hemp hearts.

If you’re a newbie to plant-based diets, or even if you’re not, you may have heard a lot of talk about hemp hearts , yet don’t actually know too much about them. Well, it’s time to get clued up as we delve into the facts surrounding these magical sources of nutritional goodness and teach you just how beneficial they are for your health and wellbeing.

What Are Hemp Hearts?

Similar to chia or flax seeds, hemp hearts are jam-packed with nutrients, so it’s no surprise they’ve become a popular pantry staple. But what exactly are hemp hearts and where do they come from?

Derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant, hemp hearts are simply the soft inner part of hemp seeds once they have been unshelled – their squishy centre, if you will. Despite sharing the same plant mother, hemp hearts don’t contain CBD or THC , therefore will not make you feel high, just in case you were worried.

So how can you incorporate hemp hearts into your diet?

While we could easily recommend shovelling down a handful of hemp hearts as a snack — you’ll love their nutty flavour and chewy texture — there are hundreds of other creative ways in which you can use them to boost your daily protein intake. From sprinkling on your breakfast cereal or yoghurt, to incorporating them into baked goods such as cookies, muffins, breads and other healthy snacks , dosing up on these little guys is one of many plant-based ways we can increase our protein intake .

Are Hemp Hearts and Hemp Seeds the same thing?

Hemp seeds are extracted from the Sativa plant and have a hard, nut-like exterior and a soft inside. Hemp hearts are the name commonly given to that seed’s soft inside.

While the terms are often used interchangeably, hemp seeds are rarely eaten due to their crunchy and hard shell which loves to get stuck in your teeth. Therefore to make products such as hemp protein , hemp milk and hemp oil , we deshell our hemp seeds and just use the hearts. However, the crunchy shell is a great source of fibre, and when ground down to a fine powder, works a treat in baking or used as a supplement in smoothies – meet our Hemp Seed Flour .

Benefits of Hemp Hearts

These hemp hearts may be small, but they really do pack a punch when it comes to their nutritional benefits. Just a few daily tablespoons of these superfood seeds can take care of everything from your heart health to upping your intake of muscle-building macronutrients. Basically, it’s a powerhouse in the seed world.

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1. Natural Nutritional Supplements

We like to refer to hemp hearts as magic seeds, because they’ve seriously got our backs when it comes to health and wellness – plus we don’t have to wait in line at the prescription counter for them.

These little guys are loaded with protein (with three tablespoons racking up a mighty 9.5 grams – more than a single egg!), plus a healthy dose of fibre, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin B1 and beyond. So it’s sure to tick all your vitamin and mineral boxes.

2. Beneficial for Heart Disease

These aptly-named hemp hearts are actually extremely good for – you guessed it – your heart, thanks to their super high fatty acid content. Seafood usually comes up trumps as one of the best sources for omega-3 fatty acids, but our little hearts deserve a shoutout, too.

And why are omega-3 fatty acids so important for your heart health? Well, not only do they help reduce levels of triglycerides (a type of fat linked with increased risk of heart disease), they also reduce build-up in your arteries , lowering the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Not only that, but they help to lower blood pressure – so we’d say they’re pretty important!

In fact, did you know that just three tablespoons of hemp hearts provide more than double your daily recommended amount of alpha-linolenic acid ? This is the type of omega-3 that the body can’t produce on its own, and therefore has to source from your diet.

*frantically adds hemp hearts to basket*

3. Digestion Aids

In addition to a perfectly pumping heart, indulging in a handful of these superseeds every day can also help us maintain a healthy gut. You see, hemp hearts are also a good source of soluble and insoluble fibre, both of which provide the human body with valuable nutrients for your digestive bacteria. These help to reduce blood sugar spikes, regulate cholesterol levels and reduce any unwanted toxins in your gut. Have a high-fibre diet and everybody’s happy!

But that’s not all! Here are a few more benefits of bringing hemp heart into your diet that we haven’t even mentioned yet:

  • Improves immunity levels
  • Improves brain health
  • Combats menopause and PMS symptoms
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Balances hormones
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Supports stronger bones
  • Reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Improves skin conditions
  • Provides relief for rheumatoid arthritis

Now you know just how powerful these miniature plant-based gems are for your health, you’ll want to snap up a package or two of your own to try, right? Well you’re in luck! Whether you pop it in your handbag for an on-the-move protein hit or store it pride of place on your kitchen shelf, Good Hemp’s hemp seed heart pouches are perfect for all your sprinkling, stirring and baking needs.

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