Whoa whoa whoa, you didn’t think I was talking about marijuana, did you?
No, dearest readers, I’m not talking about Mary J…I’m talking about a cousin of hers, hemp.
After our riveting conversation about flax, I thought this was a good time to take a look at what another popular seed has to offer. Let’s get down to it!
So, hemp and marijuana. They’re not the same thing.
They’re related, though – they’re different varieties of the same species of plant (Cannabis sativa). The marijuana variety contains high amounts of THC (the compound responsible for the “high”), whereas industrial or food-grade hemp comes from low-THC varieties of cannabis, with little or no THC content. Think of the amount of opium found in poppy seeds – same idea here. It’s impossible to use hemp seed as a drug.
Eating hemp seed may just give you a natural high, though…the one that comes from eating whole, nutrient-dense foods.
Hemp seed is acclaimed by some to be “the most nutritionally complete food in the world”. Now, even though I think hemp seeds are pretty rad, personally I don’t really like these kinds of grandiose statements. So allow me to explain what hemp seeds are all about, and you can decide for yourself!
Aside from the trace minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that are found in hemp seeds, people everywhere are munching on these little gems for 3 main reasons: protein, essential fatty acids, and fibre. Let’s take a closer look at each of these areas!
Hemp seeds contain all amino acids, including the 9 essential ones we can’t make ourselves. Current dietary trends are really hammering the point home about protein – I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that protein is an incredibly important macronutrient. And here’s why: the body is made of proteins. Hormones, enzymes, antibodies, muscles, our hair and skin and nails…all made of protein. The body therefore requires dietary protein for all of its intricate processes to work!
Are hemp seeds better for you than other proteins like meat, milk, or eggs? That depends on you and your body. The good news is, it never has to be one or the other! I eat animal products, but enjoy hemp as well, especially if I’m eating a meal that doesn’t contain any animal protein.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (EFAs)
Ah yes, the coveted omegas 3 and 6. The neat thing is that unlike flax oil, which contains mostly omega 3, hemp seed oil contains a more balanced ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 (3:1). While flax can be beneficial for the initial healing of an omega 3 deficiency, some feel that hemp seed oil is perhaps better for long-term use, with its more balanced omega content. Oh, and hemp is unique because it also contains GLA, a conjugated version of omega 6, known for assisting with PMS symptoms. Good news, ladies, right?
All cell membranes in the body are made of fat. EFAs ensure that cells can bring in nutrients and remove toxins. Believe me when I say that the health of your cell membranes is super important – so eat your healthy fats! The brain is also 70% fat. EFAs reduce inflammation, improve skin conditions, support mental health, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, and so many other things that I don’t have the space to list here!
Fibre is another buzz word we hear all the time, and we all know its importance – but skip the supplements like Metamucil and instead give your foods a fibre boost by sprinkling on some hemp seeds or adding it to smoothies. This helps to balance blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and help you feel satiated between meals.
Fibre supplements often contain harmful additives like artificial colours and chemical-based emulsifiers and preservatives. Some are in fact known carcinogens! Instead of downing these fibre concoctions, why not eat real foods like hemp? In addition to the fibre boost, your body will also take in so many other nutrients – most notably B vitamins and Magnesium, amazing for energy production and stress relief.
If you’re pretty much sold on trying some hemp seeds to boost your daily intake of protein, omegas, and fibre, here’s a few more tidbits to help you out:
- They’re often called “hemp hearts” or “hulled hemp seeds”. Both terms are correct.
- If you’re buying the oil, make sure to buy it refridgerated in a small, opaque, glass bottle – this is very important! See here for more info on this.
- Store the seeds/hearts in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months. Storing in the freezer will extend the shelf life. Always keep hemp oil refridgerated, and consume within 2 months.
- The easiest way to use it is to sprinkle it over your food: salad, yogurt, cereal, porridge, toast, steamed or baked veggies, anything! You can also add it to smoothies or make homemade hemp milk.
- Hemp seeds have a nutty flavour which many people like. Some say they’re vaguely like pine nuts, some say sunflower seeds…what do you think?
What is your experience with hemp seed? Tell us about it in the comments section! And if you learned a thing or two worth sharing, use the social media links below.
Woohoo! The Naked Label loves Alex James. We love her passion for food, her sense of humour, and her awesome ability to undress food! If you haven’t done so yet, definitely check her out on her facebook page to see what daily inspiration she is sharing today.
Book: Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill by Udo Erasmus