Hail to the hemp! If you aren’t using these tiny, easy to digest and delicious seeds yet, get on board! It’s like sending a valentine to your heart.
Hemp hearts are a fantastic healthy source of protein and fat. Luckily, hemp seed products are available in many different forms such as the shelled seed, hemp seed butter, hemp seed flour, hemp protein powder and cold-pressed hemp seed oil which can be added to anything from salads, smoothies, cereals, and toast.
Hemp hearts have many health benefits, but let’s just focus on the benefits for the heart, since there are so many.
These marvelous seeds are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals including vitamin E, B vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium that are all beneficial for overall heart health. In particular, Vitamin E protects the cardiovascular system from damage, while B vitamins lessen plaque buildup on the heart.
The most important benefit of hemp hearts is that they provide healthy fat with an ideal ratio of the essential fatty acids (EFAs): omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic) and omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid). The human body cannot synthesize these essential fatty acids, and therefore you need to consume foods that contain them. The ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids is 3:1 for these seeds, which is extremely rare to find in foods, especially plant sources. The present diet in Western society contains too many omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids which help strengthen heart tissue. Out of all the nut or seed oils, hemp seed oil contains the most essential fatty acids. This balanced ratio of saturated fats is beneficial for the prevention of chronic heart conditions including coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, and hypertension.
One more thing to note about hemp hearts and essential fatty acids is that they contain gamma linoleic acid (GLA), an infrequent form omega-6 fatty acid. It has been known to help treat existing cardiovascular conditions and to improve the ratio of beneficial and negative cholesterol in the body.
When hemp hearts are included in the diet, they help improve cholesterol levels in the body that can lead to heart conditions. If you are one of the many individuals with high cholesterol levels, you should definitely include hemp hearts in your diet if you haven’t already. Studies show that hemp hearts help lower the bad LDL cholesterol and decrease total blood cholesterol levels. This is because hemp hearts are relatively low in fat, free of cholesterol, high in plant protein and polyunsaturated fats, and produce a high amount of natural phytosterols (438 mg/100 g) that assist in reducing the cholesterol in the body. They also contain a high amount of soluble fiber that removes unnecessary cholesterol from the artery walls and brings them to the excretory system to be processed and eliminated.
If I haven’t convinced you already, hemp hearts are exceptionally high in the amino acid L-arginine that assists the body to get rid of ammonia and release insulin. This amino acid is also used to make nitric oxide, which is a compound that helps relax blood vessels. By consuming more arginine rich foods like hemp hearts, your risk of cardiovascular disease will decrease.
Don’t forget to include hemp hearts into the mix to benefit from all their heart healthy benefits! Aim to consume one or two tablespoons as many days a week as possible.
Best Ways to Use Hemp Hearts
- Add them to your smoothie
- Toss them on a salad for some crunch
- Garnish your soup with them
- Add them to trail mix or morning cereal
- Made them into a “milk.”
- Add them to baked and raw treats