The Insight:

Beyond the Smoke: 6 Healthy Benefits of Hemp

By:  Ari  Bendersky  Editor in Chief  April 18th, 2014

Before it was deemed illegal, hemp was a major U.S. crop, providing many uses like textiles, rope, paper, fuel and more. In recent history, hemp has been associated more with its parent plant, cannabis, and its illegal use of marijuana. But hemp offers so much more than just a ball of happy smoke. Currently, more than 30 countries produce industrial hemp, with China leading the charge. Hemp production is currently illegal in the U.S. because of DEA laws, but manufacturers can import hemp so long as it meets a zero-tolerance policy (meaning: no signs of hallucinogenic THC). 

Many of the edible hemp products you'll see today contain hemp seeds, hemp oil or hemp protein, which actually comes from cold pressing hemp seeds. Many other products, like shirts, soap, yoga bolsters, shower curtains and more, contain hemp fiber or hemp oil. So while hemp may still be illegal to grow in the U.S., that doesn't mean you can't enjoy its many health and nutritional benefits.

6 Benefits of Hemp

Hemp is a powerful food source loaded with fatty acids, fiber, protein and more. Taking a few teaspoons daily can help with digestion, weight loss, energy, cholesterol, blood sugar levels and more. Just how exactly?

  • Raw hemp is a complete protein, meaning raw seeds contain all 20 amino acids the body needs, including the eight essential amino acids our bodies don't and can't produce naturally. 
  • Hemp provides numerous vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, riboflavin, thiamine, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and more. 
  • Need fiber? About 30 percent of hemp seeds comprise fiber, which is great for digestion and keeping you regular. Adding more soluble and insoluble fiber to your diet can help reduce cholesterol levels in your body. 
  • Hemp is packed with amino acids, like the wonderfully powerful omega-3s and omega-6s, which are incredibly heart healthy. 
  • The tiny seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Plus, hemp is high in polyunsaturated fat, which can reduce the buildup of materials in your arteries.
  • Hemp oil is highly nourishing and can help with skin issues like eczema, acne and dry skin.

Using Hemp in Your Life

  • Add it to your diet: Use seeds or oil in cooking, baking, smoothies and more. Check out this easy green tea protein smoothie recipe.
  • Use it in the bath: Shampooing and lathering with products made with hemp oil can enrich your skin and hair, making them smoother and stronger, respectively.
  • Cook with it: Adding hemp oil to salad dressings, sauces and more can give a robust, nutty flavor to your food. Note that you should not use hemp oil with high heat and should never be used for frying. 
  • Wear it: Hemp fiber is strong and durable, making it a great textile for everything from T-shirts and lingerie (when combined with silk) to denim and shoes.


Ari Bendersky

Editor in Chief

Ari Bendersky Ari joined Abe's Market after years of covering music, lifestyle, wine and food for the New York Times, AP, Rolling Stone, Eater, Huff Post and more. He lives naturally by biking, hiking, green juicing and avoiding high-fructose corn syrup at all costs.

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