You've probably seen them all over social media and fitness accounts, but what really are hemp seeds? As the name suggests, they are seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. Yes, this is the same plant that provides leaves for marijuana, but hemp seeds will not get you high, for they only contain trace amounts of THC. The small seeds are actually very good for you in several ways. Here are 10 surprising hemp seeds health benefits you likely didn't know about.

1. Full of Nutrients

cereal, milk, oatmeal
Norah Cliff

Three tablespoons of the seeds contains 10 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat (omega-3 and omega-6), and 2 grams of fiber. They also contain high levels of Vitamin A and iron. That's a lot of good stuff in a small package.

2. Rich in GLA

GLA, also known as Gamma-Linolenic Acid, is a building block for hormone-like chemicals in our body called prostaglandins, which help smooth muscles and control inflammation and body temperature. GLA is also said to help reduce risk for diabetes and heart disease, making hemp seeds even more appealing. 

3. Improve Digestive Health

coffee, tea
Hana Brannigan

Hemp seeds contain large amounts of fiber, an indigestible part of food that comes from plants. Fiber provides bulk that helps keep your gastrointestinal system regular and relieves constipation. The seeds also feed the probiotics found in the gut.

4. Enhance Hair, Skin, and Nails

coffee, tea
Becky Hughes

The oil in hemp seeds penetrates inner layers of the skin and promotes healthy cell growth, reduces dry, red, and flaky skin, and even strengthens nails and hair. 

5. Reduce Cancer Risk

cereal, sweet, herb
Susanna Tuan

Hemp seeds contain omega-3 fats and GLA, which, as already mentioned, strengthen the immune system and protect against cancer. Additionally, a recent study showed that the small amounts of THC in the seeds can help reverse glioblastoma multiforme (a type of brain cancer), and another study even showed that they had positive effects on breast cancer.

6. Great Plant-Based Protein Source

Alina Yu

More than 25% of the total calories per serving of hemp seeds are from protein, which is more than similar foods like chia seeds and flaxseeds.

7. Aid in Weight Loss

coffee, beer
Anvita Reddy

Hemp has been found to be an appetite suppressant thanks to the high amount of fiber it contains, so eating the seeds will help you feel full for longer. 

8. Proven to Relive Arthritis Symptoms

Hemp seed oil was recently proven to lower the survival rate of arthritis fibroblast cells, which are main proponents of the formation of rheumatoid arthritis. The oil may even cause fibroblast cell death if taken in large doses. 

9. Reduce Symptoms of PMS and Menopause

pads, feminine, female hygiene
Jocelyn Hsu

The GLA in hemp seeds interacts with prostaglandin in a way that reduces the effects of prolactin, a chemical that is a major culprit in creating PMS symptoms. Recent studies have also shown GLA may help regulate the hormone imbalances and reduce the inflammation associated with menopause. 

10. Help Lessen Stress and Anxiety 

tea, coffee, beer, cake, pizza
Alexa Rojek

These magical seeds contain magnesium, amino acids, and b vitamins, all of which help fight stress and anxiety. Magnesium supports neurotransmitter function in the brain and amino acids build protein and provide energy, reducing stress hormones. B vitamins boost your metabolism, which regulates the stress hormones that are produced in the body.

The next time you see a food blogger's Instagram of a smoothie bowl covered in hemp seeds, you'll know that there are actually a surprising amount of hemp seeds health benefits.