Hemp is getting a lot of attention of late because of its perceived health benefits. It seems like everyone wants to try their hands on various products derived from this plant. But if it is simply a plant with a range of benefits and uses, then why has it been under scrutiny for so many years? Let’s have a look at all you need to know about hemp. Hemp’s complicated history may be discouraging for people who want to reap the beneficial aspects of this plant. So let’s look into some of the answers before we plan to use it.
What is Hemp? Hemp, also known as ‘industrial hemp’, is a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis Sativa which is usually found in the northern hemisphere. Nobody knows how and where it was originated but historical records trace its origins to the Himalayan region in Asia. There are various varieties of the cannabis plant—cannabis Sativa, cannabis Indica, and cannabis Ruderalis.
Cannabis as a drug and industrial hemp are both derived from the species cannabis Sativa and both contain the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It contains lower concentrations (less than 1%) of THC and higher concentrations of CBD (cannabidiol), which means it can do a lot good for you instead of getting you high.
What is Hemp Seed? Hemp seeds, also known as ‘hemp hearts’, are small brown seeds that are rich in protein, soluble and insoluble fiber, and healthy fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6. Technically a nut, these small, crunchy seeds are safe to consume and contain only low traces of THC. They have a very high anti-oxidant effect and are believed to improve heart health and reduce symptoms of ailments related to skin and joints. These seeds can be added to your meals as a whole or consumed in the form of powder for a well-balanced diet.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), roughly three tablespoons of hemp seeds contain about 116 calories and other nutrients! These seeds are also a great source of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin E, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, protein etc.
Hemp seeds are readily available as shelled, grounded or split and a special thing about hemp seed is that it can be used in almost all varieties of foods for a healthy diet. The seed shells act as a bulking agent and add fiber to the diet aiding indigestion. Grinding the seeds helps the body to absorb more of the other nutrients.
Nutritional Benefits of Hemp Seeds
Protein Powerhouse: Hemp seed is valued for being a complete protein, containing all 21 amino acids, including all 9 essential amino acids. It’s important to consume essential amino acids through food because our bodies cannot produce them naturally.
Essential Fatty Acids: Hemp seed contains an ideal of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids. These fatty acids cannot be synthesized by the body but are required to support a wide range of cellular processes in the body, including the proper function of the heart and brain.
Loads of Nutrients: Hemp seeds are also an excellent source of Vitamin E, zinc, iron, and magnesium. Vitamin E and zinc are potent antioxidants that protect cells against the damaging effect of free radicals. Iron helps deliver oxygen-rich red blood cells throughout the body and magnesium plays a role in hundreds of chemical reactions in the body.
What are the Benefits of Hemp Seeds?
Initially, hemp was used for making clothes, ropes, footwear, food, pottery decoration... after which it found its way into medicines—its leaves were used to heal wounds and oils and teas derived from it were used for pain relief. Hemp seeds have secured their position as a superfood.
DRAFTJS_BLOCK_KEY:8vic1They not only have a rich nutritional profile but also provide a range of health benefits:
Protects Brain: The CBD compound found in hemp seeds helps in neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and neuropathic pain.
Heart Health: Omega-3 fatty acids that are present in hemp seeds improve the health of the heart and reduce the risk of heart diseases. The seeds also contain high levels of arginine, an amino acid that is converted into a chemical called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is an essential component for artery and vein dilation and it also helps in keeping the blood vessel walls elastic and smooth.
Reduces Inflammation: The amount of omega-3 and omega-6 present in hemp seeds can help reduce inflammation. In addition, hemp seeds are a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a polyunsaturated fatty acid which may also have anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, this reduced inflammation helps in managing the symptoms of various chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, etc.
Improves Skin: Hemp seeds are a rich source of plant fiber. Plant fibers are believed to help in managing the symptoms of atopic dermatitis (AD) and acne.
While consuming hemp seeds has lots of potential health benefits, one should avoid overdoing it. The healthiest option is to eat an assorted diet that contains a wide range of nutrients.
How Can Hemp Contribute to Reducing Global Warming?
A large amount of CO2 is released into the atmosphere due to the use of fossil fuels in vehicles, factories, and electricity plants. Nitrous oxide, on the other hand, comes from fertilizers, industries, and the loss of rainforests that would otherwise be storing CO2. While nitrous oxide is 300 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide is the main culprit in global warming.
A part of the solution to global warming can come from hemp. It’s Plantation is considered to be eco-friendly because of the following reasons:
Hemp plantation replenishes the soil with nitrogen and nutrients thus restoring the overall health and fertility of the soil. With its long roots, the hemp tree also firmly holds the soil that helps in controlling soil erosion. These plants grow fast and thus help in carbon sequestration (absorbing carbon from the air and storing it back into the earth). They also require very less water as compared to its cotton counterpart, thus saving water and helping in maintaining underground water levels.
Hemp can grow almost anywhere in any climate. It does not need any fertilizer or pesticides, thus reducing land, water, and air pollution significantly. On the contrary, it actually clears up toxins from the ground and helps the soil maintain its health.
Also, making cloth and paper by processing hemp fiber does not require any chlorine thus reducing the production of dioxins. Today, the paper industry uses wood pulp which has become the third-largest polluter on earth. Making a switch to hemp fiber will contribute immensely to the control of the pollutants.
Hemp produces much stronger fiber than most other plants, thus its products support the basic principle of eco-living—Reuse, Reduce and Recycle—and helps in controlling deforestation.
Hemp fuels emit 80% less carbon dioxide with almost no sulfur dioxide compared to fossil fuel. This prevents the ozone layer from depleting by generating fewer greenhouse gases and by not causing acid rain—two major factors that contribute to global warming and climate change.
If legalized and professionally harvested, it can provide important solutions to at least some of the major causes and complications of global warming.
Article was wrote by:
Vishal Vivek (Co-Founder and CEO at Hemp Foundation)