WHAT’S SOW GOOD ABOUT HEMP HEARTS?
6 Benefits of the Super Seed
Is it a nut? Is it a seed? Is it weed?
The hemp hearts craze isn’t new, so let’s refresh your memory on what hemp hearts are (spoiler: they’re incredibly nutritious and protein/mineral/antioxidant-packed) and why we include these super seeds in many of our products.
We dedicate this post to the weed-selling account that commented on our recent Instagram post (which highlighted the benefits of hemp hearts). We wondered why the account thought that we should advertise on their page, then realized the conflation between hemp and weed that is still common. So here we are, calming the concerns (and crushing the hopes) of those who may think that our products will give them a high.
The Root of Confusion
The Cannabis plant family has three species and hemp and marijuana come from the same species, cannabis sativa. Cannabis sativa has hundreds of strains with varying levels of the compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that induces the “high” state when consumed. So, what are the distinctions?
.3 is the Magic Number
The legal distinction between hemp and weed is the amount of THC content. Hemp strains have less than 0.3% THC — these trace amounts are not nearly enough to affect one’s neurochemistry — while marijuana strains contain greater than 0.3% THC content, often in the range of 10-25%.(1)
THC is concentrated mainly in the leaves and fruits of the Cannabis plant. Hemp hearts are the seeds (technically, the inside of the seeds) of the plant, further reducing the THC content to negligible amounts.
All cleared up now? Good. Let’s move on to why we love hemp hearts.
Benefits of Hemp Hearts
Benefit One: Heart-healthy fats
So, what exactly is a heart-healthy fat? Fats are normally given a bad rap, even though this is a nutrient that is essential to our diet, in moderation. There are two different classifications of fats: healthy and unhealthy. For our purposes, we will be focusing on the healthy kind. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help to lower your cholesterol. Omega-fatty acids help improve your heart health by reducing plaque build-up in the arteries while also decreasing unhealthy fats in the blood. Additionally, these healthy fats are a major source of energy and help your body absorb nutrients.(2)
Hemp hearts are made of polyunsaturated fat and omega-fatty acids, making them an excellent addition to your diet if your goal is to help lower inflammation levels and promote cardiovascular health.(3)
Benefit Two: Antioxidants
We put hemp hearts to the test on how antioxidant-packed they are and they ACEd it with a little help from Vitamins A, C, E. These vitamins are some of the most effective antioxidants, which are molecules that protect our cells from the damage and alteration caused by free radicals. Free radicals are byproducts of energy production within our bodies, and they crave electrons, commandeering them from other cells in our bodies. The damage free radicals cause in our bodies is known as oxidative stress, and the good guys that combat this stress are known as antioxidants.(4)
Vitamin A is a nutrient that plays an important role in maintaining your body’s natural defenses, while acting as a powerful antioxidant. Specifically, it helps your body to produce white blood cells that are necessary to fight off an illness or infection. The benefits of vitamin A are also seen in brain function and the skin, heart, kidneys, lungs, and vision. Basically, vitamin A is incredibly important in making sure your body and organs are functioning properly.(5)
Vitamin C helps to repair and regenerate bodily tissues and the formation of collagen. Like vitamin A, it helps boost your body’s natural defenses. Vitamin C plays a key role in your body’s ability to heal wounds and protects your skin. It also helps to lower your risk of heart disease by decreasing bad cholesterol and triglycerides (this is one of the bad fats).(6)
Vitamin E is widely known to have anti-aging properties and are seen in many skincare products. It helps to protect your skin, prevents coronary heart disease, promotes eye health, reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s, and lowers your risk of developing cancer. Like vitamin A and C, it supports immune function and reduces inflammation within your body.(7)
Benefit Three: Essential Minerals
There are 13 essential minerals that our body needs to function, and hemp seeds contain just about all of them. Yes, here we go with another list: phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc. And we know, that sounds nice, but why are essential minerals… essential? Each one has a unique role, but they all are involved in daily, critical bodily functions. For example, calcium aids in bone growth, muscle contractions, blood clotting, blood pressure, and the firing of nerve signals.(8) Magnesium is another essential mineral that aids in energy production, making proteins, and transporting calcium inside our cells, thus lending its hand in proper muscle contraction and nerve signaling.(9)
Some quick stats: consuming 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of hemp seeds satisfies 41% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of phosphorous, 66% of the magnesium RDA for women and 51% for men, and 30% of the zinc RDA. Hemp seeds also have potassium, calcium, iron, and other minerals.(10)
Benefit Four: Gluten and Grain-Free
Hemp seeds, as well as chia seeds and quinoa, are often mistaken as cereal grains (seeds that grow from grass) because they are similar in appearance and manner of preparation, (11) but technically they come from a different plant family.(12)
Grains, particularly those that have been refined, can have a higher amount of carbohydrates. Hemp seeds have high protein and low carbohydrate levels, which is one of the reasons we add them to so many of our products! Unlike many granolas, our granola is gluten, grain, and filler-free — a possibility attributable to these powerhouse seeds.
Benefit Five: Complete Protein
Hemp seeds are made of approximately 32% protein, making them an excellent source of easily digested protein, especially for those in search of plant-based proteins or alternatives to allergen-containing soybean and wheat proteins. Hemp seeds are a better protein source than chia and flaxseeds, which are made of 16-18% protein.
Benefit Six: Essential Amino Acids
Let’s talk about essential amino acids for a moment. Fun fact, there are twenty amino acids, but there are nine amino acids that are essential for protein synthesis that our bodies cannot produce on their own. Therefore, these amino acids must be consumed, and you guessed it, hemp seeds contain all nine of ‘em, classifying hemp seeds as a “complete protein” in the science world and super seed in our book. (13) Just in case you didn’t have enough of the lists, here’s one last one: the nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.(14)
Now you know why we love hemp hearts so much! These tiny guys are packed in all the goodies: nutrients, healthy fats, antioxidants, essential minerals, essential amino acids, protein — and, arguably most importantly, they look pretty on top of a smoothie bowl.
If you made it this far, well done, you! Since you’re already here, you might as well check out some of our super seed-containing Goods. You can thank us later. Meet our founders and learn what Sow Good means to them!