All About Hemp Seeds - From History To Health

Hemp seeds have been an essential source of nutrition for thousands of years in Old World cultures. In more recent times these powerhouses have long been ignored due to the botanical relationship to medicinal varieties of Cannabis (same species, different type) and were still illegal for human consumption in Australia until 2017. Hemp seeds do not cause any psychoactive effects and are simply the fruit or nut of the hemp plant (a strain of the plant species Cannabis Sativa). Hemp caters to many purposes and products around the world. It is one of the fastest-growing plants and used throughout history for making paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel and as a food source for animals.

Hemp is considered one of the most versatile and eco-friendly crops on the planet. Its fibers are the longest and most durable of all the natural fibers and can grow well without been fed any toxic chemicals like herbicides or pesticides.

Often referred to as Hemp hearts - Hemp seeds are a superfood and can be eaten raw, made into a flour, sprouted or turned into hemp milk. They go well in granolas, muesli bars, bliss balls, or sprinkled on just about anything. They are especially delicious atop smoothie bowls, avocado on toast or salads.  They are over 30% oil and over 25% protein, making them a highly nutritious, mild and nutty food source and plant-based protein for vegans, vegetarians and for boosting nutrient density for all.

Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), hemp seeds are an excellent source of Vitamin E. A great source of many minerals like Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iron, Zinc, and Manganese. They are very low in cholesterol and sodium. Hemp seeds have a macronutrient ratio of 69% Fat, 23% protein, and 8% carbohydrate. The nutrient profile below is based on 28 grams of Hemp seeds, providing 18% of your daily protein requirements and 19% of your RDI of healthful fats. (1) (2)

Calories: 161 kcal

Protein: 9.2 grams

Fat: 12.3 grams

Carbohydrate: 20 grams

Manganese: 2.8mg (140% of the RDI)

Magnesium: 300mg (75%)

Phosphorus: 405mg (41%)

Zinc: 5.0mg (34%)

Iron: 3.9mg (22%)

Copper: 0.1mg (7%)

Calcium: 20mg (2%)

Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol): 15.4mg (77%)

Hemp seeds are an excellent source of nutrition containing essential fats, quality protein, antioxidants, fiber, and an impressive array of vitamins and minerals. (3)

More recently, clinical trials have identified hemp seed oil as a functional food (a food containing health-giving properties) and used in traditional oriental medicine for treating various disorders for thousands of years. (4)

Perfect protein

Hemp seeds are a perfect protein. They contain all 20 amino acids and more importantly, all 9 of the essential amino acids that our body cannot produce alone. These must come from our food. 

Hemp seeds contain high levels of Arginine, an essential amino acid. Which has been shown to support wound healing, help the kidneys filter blood, and support the maintenance of immunity and hormone function. Arginine, however, has its superstar status due to its ability to support heart health. Arginine converts to a compound in the body called Nitric Oxide, a Neurotransmitter that helps the blood vessels of the body dilate, creating better blood flow and circulation. It may reduce the symptoms of clogged arteries and chest pain, help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. (5) (6) (7) The increase of Arginine (or L-Arginine) in the body has also been shown to decrease inflammation markers associated with cardiovascular disease. (8)

Unsaturated fats

Hemp seeds contain an impressive amount of healthy fats and a wonderful balance of omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.  The ratio of Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids is important. Specifically Linolenic acid and Alpha-Linolenic acid and just like the essential amino acids, we must get them from our diet. Hemp seeds provide an excellent 3:1 balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.  Gamma-Linolenic acid an Omega 6 fatty acid, but not an essential one, meaning we can make some in our body if the conditions are optimal). All three of these healthy fats (known as unsaturated fats) offer such a vast array of benefits. They are shown to improve digestion, hormone balance ad Metabolism. They decrease inflammation in the body, which helps to reduce the risk of many if not all chronic illnesses. They have an anti-arthritic effect. Help strengthen the immune system's response. Help you to feel fuller for longer (thus affecting weight management), are proven to be incredibly beneficial for the health of your hair, skin, and nails. More specifically, hemp oil is used to relieve dry and itchy skin and as a treatment for various skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis. (9) (10) (11)

Women’s Wellbeing

GLA (or Gamma-Linolenic acid) is another healthy Omega 6 fat found in abundance in Hemp seeds. A healthy, unsaturated fatty acid, it is beneficial for your wellbeing for many reasons. GLA is specifically helpful for women suffering from PMS, or symptoms of Menopause. Present also in high amounts in evening primrose oil, Gamma-Linolenic acid is a necessary building block for making Prostaglandins in the body. Prostaglandins are hormone-like chemicals that help soothe muscles, control inflammation, and body temperature and are also vital for some other body functions. Prostaglandins reduce the effect of Prolactin, which is one major hormone when out of balance, to create PMS symptoms. GLA is essential for proper hormone health and can also benefit people experiencing ADHD, breast pain, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, obesity, arthritis, and skin allergies. (9) (4)

Hemp seeds have certainly proven themselves as an incredibly nutritious and healing superfood. 

By Linda Ross ICNT

Integrative Nutritionist
Body, Mind and Eating Coach
Wholefood Chef 





Linda is currently teaching and consulting Globally. Specializing in identifying the underlying factors of chronic stress and related conditions, using clinical and holistic techniques. Blending ancient wisdom that is backed up by the modern science of nutrition to nourish the body and support people of all ages in understanding and transforming their health and wellbeing.

Links to connect with Linda:
Instagram: @nourishing_ways