Are hemp hearts really good for heart?
Heart diseases have become the foremost cause of death worldwide. Heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular diseases accounted for one-third of deaths in 2019. Hectic work-life, fast-food-based diet, and lack of regular exercise result in presence of high cholesterol in our body, resulting in a severe risk to the heart.
While we can do little about the work-life and lack of time, the least we can do is improve our food intake and consume products which are good for our heart. Most people will advise you about reducing the consumption of stuff like butter and oils, but few people know about a superfood for the heart.
It is hemp seeds, also termed hemp hearts!
How hemp hearts help
A wonder food with a rich nutritional profile, hemp hearts or seeds packs a gamut of essential nutrients. Moreover, hemp seeds are easy to consume. Nutty in taste, they are quite delicious as well. The seeds can be eaten raw, strewn on salad, or transformed into hemp seed milk, oil, protein powder, or cheese substitutes.
That is all well, but how do hemp seeds reduce the risk of heart disease?
Here is a drop-down –
Hemp seeds have a high presence of the amino acid arginine. Once consumed by us, it produces nitric oxide in the body. The gas molecules in the nitric oxide make your blood vessels dilate and relax your heart. It pushes down the blood pressure, which helps in keeping the heart-healthy.
The human body has C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammation marker. Regular intake of arginine pulls down the levels of C-reactive protein in the body, thus helping the heart. As several studies have found, high levels of CRP in the body increase the risk of heart disease.
Another element in hemp seeds having a role in the betterment of heart diseases is gamma-linolenic acid, which reduces inflammation in organs.
Hemp seeds bring down the risk of blood clot formation. Even after a heart attack, daily consumption of hemp seeds supports recovery.
A study published in the National Library of Medicine’ by Brian J Wells, Arch G Mainous, and Charles J Everett explored whether intake of arginine through regular diet had any link with cardiovascular diseases.
Arginine intake below the median range was found to be correlated with higher levels of CRP (P < 0.05). However, arginine consumption above the median range seemed to promote lower levels of CRP (P < 0.05). When you take into account the adjusted regression, the risk for anyone consuming the highest level (90th percentile) of arginine was 30% less to have a CRP above 3.0 mg/L compared to those who had a median arginine intake.
This study demonstrated the association between the consumption of arginine and CRP level. Intake of foods that were rich in arginine is likely to result in a lower risk for heart-related diseases.
Another study in the National Library of Medicine’ by PM Ridker, M Cushman, MJ Stampfer, RP Tracy, and CH Hennekens established that intake of anti-inflammatory agents may help in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Role of Gamma-linolenic acid
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is a component in Omega-6 fats that are known for reducing inflammation, which indirectly helps in preventing cardiovascular diseases. Intake of GLA through your regular diet is supposed to help prevent heart attacks, though more high-level evidence is required to establish it decisively.
Statistics regarding heart diseases in world
According to a report published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, ischemic heart disease and stroke have been major reasons for rising health care costs, disability, and even death. The number of heart disease deaths sprang up from 12.1 million to 18.6 million. From 1990 to 2019, the cardiovascular disease-related years of life lost and heart disease-related disability doubled to 34.4 million. In 2019, most heart disease deaths happened because of narrowed arteries. With heart diseases having such a major impact on life, it has become imperative for us to make adequate dietary changes.
In 2019, heart diseases resulted in 9.6 million deaths among men and 8.9 million deaths among women in the world. People aged between 30 and 70 years suffered more than six million deaths.
How to prevent heart disease risk
The report recommended cost-effective public health programs to lessen heart disease risk. With a substantial chunk of the world population aging, there is a pressing need for such programs, or, at least, to improve their regular diet. Hemp hearts can be a valuable addition to our food to prevent heart diseases. This becomes even more important in the context that the number of older people is likely to double between 2019 and 2050 globally, particularly in Northern Africa; Western Asia, Central, Eastern, Southeastern and Southern Asia; Latin America and the Caribbean.
A lethargic attitude in this regard will result in a high number of deaths. It is our collective responsibility to make people aware of the health advantages of hemp regarding the heart. For optimum benefit, getting high-quality hemp seeds will help. Himalayan hemp seeds stand out for the rich presence of nutrients.
The cost factor in heart disease treatment
Treatment of heart diseases is very expensive. While it critically reduces a person’s ability to work, it eats into the finances as well. In 2010, the cost of the treatment of cardiovascular disease in the US reached the whopping figure of $444 billion. It includes the costs incurred for the treatment of stroke, peripheral artery disease, and various heart ailments.
While these are direct costs, indirect costs are unaccounted for, which include loss of income and productivity. Though in many cases, people are able to return to work after a few months, productivity is not the same as before.
The best way out of this mess is prevention. If some dietary improvements and some exercise daily help you keep out of trouble, it is always a better option.
Heart health has more to it than just cholesterol levels
When you discuss heart health, it is more than cholesterol levels in your blood. High blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, smoking may all lead to artery disease at a later stage. Habits, genes, and the environment – all have a role to play in the development of heart diseases.
As for finding when you have high cholesterol, there is a formula. To arrive at total cholesterol, we add HDL (Low-density lipoprotein) levels, LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) levels, and 20% of triglyceride levels. If your total cholesterol is 240 or above, and LDL is 160 or above, you have high cholesterol. Low HDL cholesterol i.e. less than 40, also constitutes a risk.
How cholesterol results in heart diseases
Cholesterol moves through the blood as minuscule fragments called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) carries cholesterol to body cells, while high-density lipoprotein (HDL), termed beneficial cholesterol, transports cholesterol to the liver, which would then be flushed out of the body. LDL builds up plaque in the arteries, creating blockages and resulting in heart diseases.
The presence of arginine in hemp hearts helps you negate bad cholesterol and lowers the risk for heart-related diseases.
How to protect yourself from high medical costs of heart diseases
One of the foremost steps you need to take is to get adequate health insurance. Getting disability insurance is also a good idea for recovering some of your loss in case you are debilitated by heart disease at a later stage of life. You may also inquire with your doctor if cheaper medication is available.
The best thing, however, you can do is include a bit of exercise in your daily schedule and ensure a heart-friendly diet. The addition of hemp seeds to your food can be a hugely useful step.
Dealing with Pericarditisn
A medical condition some patients suffer from is the inflammation of the tissue around the heart. This causes chest pain, especially when the person is lying down. Though pericarditis is not exactly a heart disease, unaware patients may have a woeful time thinking their heart is troubling them. Moreover, pericarditis patients face a greater risk of developing heart disease.
Hemp hearts are effective against pericarditis because of the presence of gamma-linolenic acid, which can bring inflammation under control.
Dealing with atherosclerosis
As you now know, excess LDL in your bloodstream results in the accumulation of plaque on artery walls, creating blockages. In medical terms, this condition is known as atherosclerosis, resulting in a partial or complete blockage of an artery, creating the medical circumstances of a heart attack.
It may take years though for such conditions to develop and your body may not show any symptoms until it is quite late. This is the reason doctors recommend annual health checkups.
Hemp hearts can be an effective tool in curbing heart disease, which is a major killer. The presence of arginine, gamma-linolenic acid, and other elements push down blood pressure, controls inflation, dilates blood vessels, and relax the heart. Several scientific research has underlined these facts, encouraging people to consume hemp seeds regularly.