Hemp for a Healthy Heart?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

The word cannabis stirs a lot of emotion in people today — some positive and plenty negative.

But whatever your beliefs are, one thing is for sure: There are definitely health benefits to these plants.

Despite all the legal issues and controversy surrounding cannabis, we decided to look at the heart health benefits of hemp seeds.

Needless to say, we were pleasantly surprised.

Interested in what we found? Then let’s dive in.

Hemp Oil Contains Omega-3s, Sterols, and Oleic Acid

In a recent study, Spanish researchers analyzed the chemical composition of hemp seed oil and found a mix of heart-healthy compounds.

They found a significant amount of alpha-linoleic acid,1 an omega-3 fatty acid with demonstrated heart benefits; they also found plant sterols (beta-sitosterol and campesterol) which lower LDL cholesterol and inflammation.

Among the other beneficial compounds: oleic acid and gamma-tocopherol. If you recall, most of the heart benefits attributed to olive oil are believed to stem from oleic acid.

But apart from this study, other research shows hemp seeds are worth eating. They have a high concentration of arginine, an amino acid with blood pressure lowering effects, and they prevent platelets from “sticking” together,2 an effect which enhances circulation.

No, Hemp Seed Won’t Get You “High”

Concerned about hemp seeds and anything cannabis-related? We hear you. There’s a lot of misinformation out there.

The truth is, there are different types of cannabis plants and unlike its cousin marijuana, hemp and its seeds have no psychoactive properties.2 The amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) they contain is negligible and definitely won’t get you “high.”

Hemp Seed is Versatile

Hemp seed oil can be used in many different ways. It can be used in salad dressings, smoothies or it can even be applied to your skin as a moisturizer.

If you’re not a fan of hemp seed oil, try the seeds instead. They’re a good source of protein. In fact they are a complete source of essential amino acids, making them an ideal source of protein for vegans and vegetarians.

Or if you’re feeling a bit experimental, make your own hemp milk.

Recipe: Hemp Milk

Here’s a great hemp milk recipe, courtesy of About.com:

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 medjool dates
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional Variations:

Add any one of the following to spice things up a bit!

  • Add 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • Add 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of spice such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, or allspice
Preparation:

Blend all of the ingredients together on high speed for 20 seconds. Optionally, you can strain the liquid through a cheese cloth to remove the seed particles. Serve your hemp milk immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

References:

  1. J Agric Food Chem. 2014 Feb 5;62(5):1105-10.
  2. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010;7:32.

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