ICYMI, Hemp was recently legalised and recognised as a ‘food’ in Australia – long overdue since much of the world has been consuming hemp for decades. It comes from the same species as cannabis but is a totally different variety that yields tiny, nutritious and edible seeds. And coz it contains no psychoactive THC, the only high you’ll get from consuming hemp is from its enormous health-giving benefits.
We've weeded out a few of our faves:
1. It’s packed with protein
Have you considered reducing meat or already follow a Vegetarian or Vegan diet? Beat the naysayers to the punch when asked where you get your protein because hemp seeds supply a whopping 10g of protein per 2Tbsp serving (and all from a sustainable plant-based source.)
Protein is made up of amino acids and is essential for health. It’s necessary to make enzymes, hormones, bone, tissues, in fact, every cell in the body is made up of protein. Hemp is a ‘complete’ protein meaning it contains the full spectrum of amino acids (essential and non-essential). The body can make (some) amino acids, but those amino acids described as ‘essential’ must be consumed by diet - hemp supplies all 9 essential amino acids. While the hemp seed is 25% protein; hemp protein powder (the product leftover once extracting the oil and fibre) is over 50% protein gram for gram.
2. It’s the good kind of fat
Hemp is an exceptionally rich source of essential fatty acids (EFA’s) – ‘essential’ meaning it's critical for our health but cannot be manufactured by our bodies. These two EFA’s are linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3), both of which are unsaturated. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in hempseed oil is 3:1, which is considered to be optimal for human health.
EFA’s are necessary for energy production, strengthening the immune system, improving brain function, regulating organs and glands, speeding recovery of healing, supporting child development and producing beautiful hair, skin, nails. Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats may reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke.
In general, the ‘standard’ diet has deficiencies of EFA’s from a high intake of animal fats and poor intake of plant fats. Typically, this is caused by the consumption of processed foods and meats and not enough natural, whole, fresh, organic foods. Hemp is particularly popular among people who have trouble working Omega -3s into their diet. Hemp oil contains the highest source of these healthy fats and is a beneficial alternative to olive oil for a salad dressing.
2. It aids in weight loss
Hemp is a healthy balanced food that meets the body’s daily nutritional needs.
In addition, hemp is a sugar-free, gluten-free, low carbohydrate food with good gut-cleansing fibre. It has 15 times as much fat-fighting CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) as fish oil. Fats in hemp seeds contribute to that full feeling and keep you satiated for longer periods of time.
Eating the right kinds of food is important for weight loss. Inflammation from highly processed foods can impact dieting efforts. Hemp seeds potential to fight inflammation, while providing complete protein, fats and fibre make it an ideal addition to a healthy diet.
Hemp flour is an ideal weight-loss companion – its loaded in soluble and insoluble fibre which aids with hunger control and plays an important role in binding to and eliminating toxins via fat loss and contributing to a healthy digestive tract.
4. It’s free from allergens
Hemp can be eaten by virtually anyone. It is safe for children, adults, pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants, even animals. Additionally, those unable to tolerate nuts, gluten, lactose, and soy can safely consume hemp. There are no known allergies to hemp.
Today, food allergies are at an epidemic level. It’s important to consider the connection between the chemicals sprayed on our food, and their risk to our health. Purchasing organic or chemical free (when independently certified) is always your best choice.
Unlike its counterparts; corn, soy, cotton and wheat, hemp requires no herbicides or pesticides. RoundUp (a herbicide) is a recently-declared carcinogenic chemical glyphosate (along with inert ingredients that are also extremely dangerous), that may be sprayed on your food shortly before you eat it. These chemicals have the potential to induce mild to severe allergic reaction in the body.
5. It packs a punch
Big things really do come in small packages - the idiomatic expression holds much value with this small but mighty seed. The term ‘superfood’ refers to a nutritionally dense food supplying large amounts of vitamins, minerals, plus additional unique properties such as phytonutrients and antioxidants that help us fight diseases and live a longer, healthier life.
Some unique properties that makes hemp so incredibly ‘super’:
- GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid) – a ‘wonder’ oil believed to be important for preventing inflammation and combat PMS, hemp is one of only five known sources
- Phytosterols – Cholesterol-fighting compounds
- Vitamin D3 – the only known plant food source of this bone-building sunshine vitamin
- Minerals including Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and Zinc.
- B Vitamins including Folate
- Two main proteins in hemp are Edestin and Albumin – the most easily digested protein of any kind and closely resemble the globulin in blood plasma, compatible with the digestive system. This may be a reason why there are no reported food allergies to hemp.
Keen to start using hemp? Here’s some tips to get you started:
- • Sprinkle hemp seeds atop morning muesli or porridge, into a smoothie, salad, yoghurt
- • Eaten raw by the handful, or add into favourite trail mix for on-the-go snack
- • Use hemp oil as a bread oil dip or salad dressing
- • Mix hemp seeds into baked goods, biscuits, breads
- • Blend hemp seeds with water to create hemp milk
Jessica Valiant is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist for Hemp Foods Australia.