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Hemp seeds: benefits, properties and contraindications

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Hemp seeds: benefits, properties and contraindications

Hemp seeds are the secret to more energy (and beautiful skin)

Not long ago, I happened to go to the gym with a vegan friend. At the end of our session, while we were ordering a smoothie at the bar, I saw him take a bag of seeds out of his bag and add a spoonful to his smoothie. Hemp seeds, I learned that day, are one protein bomb necessary not only for post-fitness recovery: two tablespoons of these extraordinary seeds contain the same amount of protein as two egg whites. And they are among the rare foods in the plant world to possess all the 9 essential amino acids, fundamental for the synthesis of proteins in our body. In short, they are complete protein foods and a valuable alternative to meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products and not just for vegans. But that’s not all: they are also very rich in the “good” fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6, in optimal proportions for the body, which help prevent arthritis from acne, and Vitamin E which regenerates the skin. I think from today I’ll put them in my bag too.

What are hemp seeds?

Edible hemp seeds are the seeds of Cannabis Sativa, a plant of the Cannabaceae family, not to be confused with Indica (or Indian) Cannabis, which contains high levels of phytocannabinoids such as THC with psychoactive effects. Cannabis (or hemp) sativa is a plant native to Central Asia, whose seeds are traditionally eaten at the table in countries such as Russia and China. Today this very tall annual plant (it can reach up to 7 meters) is cultivated to produce from fabrics, paper, animal feed, bioplastics or biofuels up to edible oil, but it is also used in the cosmetic industry for its properties anti-inflammatory and regenerating for the skin.

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Hemp seeds: all the benefits

They provide all the essential amino acids (which cannot be produced by our body), making up for nutritional deficiencies in those who are vegan or vegetarian or follows another restrictive diet. Thanks to the presence of “good” fats and vitamin E, they help the skin to regenerate and reduce inflammation and are beneficial for those suffering from acne, psoriasis and eczema and for those with dry skin. One tablespoon of hemp seeds meets the daily requirement of essential fats (that must be provided by the diet) Omega 3 and Omega 6, anti-inflammatory polyunsaturated fats fundamental for a variety of functions such as metabolism, circulation brain activity and cholesterol regulation. They are rich in fiber which regulates intestinal functions reduce appetite by giving a sense of satiety and assisting weight management, and reduce sugar cravings. They contain magnesium (3 tablespoons of hemp seeds satisfy the daily requirement of this mineral) useful for the proper functioning of muscles, heart and nervous system. Being rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), they can relieve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause. They are rich in minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, potassium, sulphur, iron and zinc, necessary for general health.A study published in Food Chemistry Journal revealed that, thanks to their properties anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective could help in the prevention of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Do hemp seeds have any contraindications?

None, if consumed in moderation. However, remember not to overdo it, they are rich in fat (they contain more than 30%). The recommended dose is 30 grams, approximately 3 tablespoons per day.

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How to eat hemp seeds

Available in herbalists in organic food shops or online, hemp seeds are offered whole or hulled: choose them if possible wholemeal and organic to enjoy all the nutritional properties. With a pleasant flavour, they are easily digestible, and can be used to enrich nutrients from muesli, porridge, yoghurt or morning smoothie to salads, first courses, bowls of vegetables or legumes for lunch (putting them in your bag is not a bad idea), up to evening soups and risottos. Or they can be used as an ingredient for preparing homemade pesto, instead of breadcrumbs in cutlets and croquettes, and in sauces and condiments. Another option to enjoy the benefits of this exceptional food is to consume it in the form of olio. Tastes similar to that of hazelnut, obtained by cold pressing, hemp seed oil is ideal for sprinkling raw on salads, pasta dishes, risottos and orzotti, soups and veloutés. Once opened, however, put it in the fridge, it goes rancid easily. Another option is to purchase the hemp seed flour, naturally gluten-free and low in calories compared to wheat, and use it to prepare protein crepes, cookies, bread and focaccia, and for the base of pizza.

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