You may have heard of hemp, but if you’re still a little weary on whether it’s something to add to your lifestyle, we’re here to give you the download.
Hemp is the non-drug variety of the cannabis sativa plant; it’s an oilseed, not a grass, despite popular belief. Industrial hemp is a tough plant that grows quickly, in a variety of soil types, and is resistant to pests and weeds without the help of chemicals. This makes it an environmentally beneficial crop, whose harvest can contribute to clothing, paper products and skin care. Beyond all of that, hemp seeds, or hemp hearts, contain a ton of nutrients.
Here are some quick pointers on how to use and benefit from hemp:
Hemp hearts and hemp protein powder are great sources of whole food plant protein. Hemp is high on the list of “complete” protein in plant-based foods, such as quinoa, since it contains essential amino acids that are necessary for the body and muscle strengthening.
Hemp also contains the good fat – or essential fatty acids – the kind we need to consume, since our body doesn’t make it on its own. It has the ideal ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats (4:1) without being a source of cholesterol. Hemp is not a poor-quality fat, like trans-fats (which are now banned). The body needs a certain amount of omega fatty acids to be at its best. Hemp hearts also contain iron, magnesium and zinc, all of which help maintain a strong heart.
Hemp contains both types of fiber – soluble and insoluble – which makes it perfect for digestion, heart health and the immune system. Most fibrous foods contain quite a bit of carbohydrates, but not hemp — one serving provides 11 grams of raw organic protein and 12 grams of fiber (48% DV).
Versatile Little Seeds
Hemp seeds are definitely along the same lines as other good-for-you seeds — like chia and flax – with the added bonus of versatility. They can be cooked or baked and do not require grinding before using, which adds to its usefulness. Hemp seeds can add texture and essential nutrients to salads, smoothies, pancakes and even ice cream.
In its natural form, hemp does not contain gluten. On top of that, it easily fits in within a multitude of dietary regimens, including paleo, vegan, vegetarian, allergen-friendly, simple whole foods and high-protein/low carb.
Hemp seeds are also packed with magnesium, zinc and iron, along with some phosphorus and calcium. They’re also excellent for pregnant women, since hemp contains folate.
Hemp seeds have such great attributes to offer, in terms of whole food nutrition. And we didn’t even mention the uses for hemp seed oil! (Hint: It can do wonders for dry skin.) However, most hemp products are imported, due to tough restrictions on farming industrial hemp. Not to worry, because looser legislation has been making its way through some states. Currently, there is a petition to “Bring It Home,” asking for support to farm industrial hemp.