What are hemp seeds?
Hemp seeds are popular these days, but what are they? Hemp seeds, when shelled are referred to as hemp hearts. Some say they are the most nutritious of all the seeds. They have a whole lot of protein, omega-3 fats (the healthy type), magnesium, and zinc. They are delightfully crunchy with a tasty taste of both nuttiness and sweetness. They are tiny and therefore ideal to sneak into your diet in a variety of ways (Oh My Veggies).
Hemp seeds come from Cannabis sativa L. the hemp plant. It happens to be in the same family as marijuana, which sometimes causes unnecessary confusion. The THC is the part of the marijuana that makes critics uncomfortable. Hemp, luckily, contains less than 1% of this, as compared to the 20% in its cousin.
Recently, hemp has become a popular nutritional addition, though hemp plants are also (and often) harvested for other uses. Hemp plants can be used for fibers, oils, papers, and plastic. Hemp is a dream crop, as it can be grown in a wide variety of conditions and areas. It is very tolerant and also quite resilient to pests and diseases that often take over other less durable crops.
Despite their hardiness and ability to grow world wide, hemp crops are most grown in Canada, France and China. Interestingly enough, the United States authorities will not let farmers grow hemp, even though it is a highly beneficial and marketable crop. It is a variety of cannabis, rendering it illegal for growth in the States despite hemp’s drastic differences from the drug. The current government isn’t even calmed by the fact that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had gardens with hemp plants. Supposedly the Declaration of Independence was even made of hemp paper (Seed Guides)!
What do we use hemp for?
As mentioned before, hemp has a wide variety of uses. It is an extremely versatile crop and product finding its way into fibers, oils, papers, plastic and even fuel. It is a great substitution for paper because it can be recycled more times than the wood-based paper we’re used to can. Yields are better with hemp than trees, too–as much as four times as much per round. In our increased battle against pollution and environmental degradation, anything that can take the place of plastics would be a dream. Well, hemp may just be that. Plastic made from hemp is in fact biodegradable, easing the stress of plastic components that otherwise find their ways (and less easily find their way out of) the delicate ecosystems of the world. And as we’ll look more closely into in this article, hemp is a great addition to many foods and drinks (Seed Guides).
Let’s take a closer look at exactly what’s inside a hemp seed. Inside you can find:
- high dose of linolenic acid (GLA)
- great source of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids
- each and every 20 of the amino acids
- all nine of the essential amino acids
- both soluble and insoluble fiber
- 145 mg of calcium (out of 100 grams)
- 483 mg of magnesium (out of 100 grams)
- 859 mg of potassium (out of 100 grams)
- 3800 IU mg of vitamin A (out of 100 grams)
- vitamin B (1,2,3, and 6)
- vitamin D
- vitamin E (Dr. Axe)
Benefits of hemp seeds
So now we know what’s inside, let’s see what that all means for us. We’ll take a look at some of the benefits that hemp seeds provide us in food form.
Low allergy risk
Hemp seeds supposedly pose less of an allergy risk when compared to the allergy risks of other seeds making them a safer bet when added to popular dishes for multiple guests.
Pets like them too!
Hemp seeds, and their far-reaching nutritional perks can be passed along to your precious pet, too. I wonder if your pet will like them as much as you do (Seed Guides)?
Hormones, and a proper balance of our hormones, is key to a balanced life ensuring our body runs as it should. Prostaglandins have been found to control inflammation, moderate temperature, and assist smooth muscles in their contractions. Hemp seeds are full of GLA, which is a key component to prostaglandins. Supplements of this sort help to manage overall hormone healthiness.
Reduce arthritis symptoms
Studies have shown that the GLA lowered some symptoms of arthritis by a whopping 25%. The GLA is not the only part of hemp that is helping to reduce pain associated with inflammation. The omega ratio and a few other minerals play a role as well.
Help fight against some cancers
A healthy immune system is important in the fight against cancer. The fatty acid balance of hemp seeds plays a role in ensuring a strong immune system. Some research has shown that components of hemp seeds may even stop a severe type of brain cancer. It was also researched and published that hemp seeds improved some patients during breast cancer and lung cancer. These are hopeful yet big claims and could of course benefit from much more research.
Hemp has been said to both manage and reduce appetite and act as a suppressant. You may feel more full than usual and even have less cravings for that pesky sugar. A few spoons of hemp seeds at breakfast time may help you to control your hunger all day long. And less cravings usually means less weight gain. So, bring on the hemp seeds!
Keep digestion regular
Hemp seeds, remember, are very high in fiber. This extra soluble and insoluble fiber work to regularize your gastrointestinal system. It adds extra bulk necessary for the probiotics, while also helping a hand to your immunity.
The long list of ‘things inside’ hemp seeds come together to help you and I have healthy hearts. Hemp’s fat balance, protein from plants, and fiber help to ensure a healthy heart. They are also said to lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.
Hemp seeds aren’t just for breakfast. You can also find them at the cosmetics counter, too. They can ease dry and flaky skin. Sometimes hemp oil is used in chap sticks or lotion and works in these products to go into deep layers of the skin. Hemp oil is said to encourage cell growth in a healthy way, ultimately leading to softer, healthier, and more beautiful skin (Dr Axe).
How can I get my doses of hemp seeds?
You can find hemp seeds in most health food stores. They are often sold as packaged food items. You can also buy hemp milk, hemp flour, hemp ice cream, hemp oil, hemp protein powder, or just keep it simple with the seeds.
Other ways to use hemp seeds
- Salad toppings. Feel free to toss a splash full of hemp seeds to just about any salad. You’ll make a healthy choice even healthier!
- Extra crunch in your granola. Hemp seeds are a perfect little addition to your favorite granola. They provide a compatible yet interesting texture and crunch to your usual mixture.
- Smoothies and juices. Use the powder form of hemp seeds for an extra nutritional boost to smoothies and juices. If you’re not into blending them all by yourself, many popular juice bars and cafes are now serving hemp enriched products.
- Baked goods. Don’t stop at raw food. Although the nutritional content is the best when uncooked, hemp seeds can also be added to your baked goods and used in just about any style of cooking (About Food).
One Green Planet offers an excellent source of unique recipes using hemp seeds, as seen below:
Creamy Hemp Pasta
This delicious and fresh pasta gives a super dose of protein while also tasting great. It’s a vegan dish that requires cashews, water, fresh basil, lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cashew cream, and hemp seeds. You’ll be warmed by both the creamy pasta and also by knowing you’re doing your body good by enjoying this creamy and comforting pasta dish.
Hemp Seeds and Goji Berry Granola
You’ve tried a sprinkle of hemp seeds in your store-bought granola and loved the taste? Now it’s time to make your own homemade granola from start to finish. You can use this granola for both a cold breakfast bowl or as a hot oatmeal type granola. The goji berries add an extra dose of anti-oxidants and a nice, sweet finish. In addition to hemp seeds and goji berries you’ll need rolled oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon, salt, maple syrup, sunbutter, and vanilla.
Creamy Lemon Herb Dressing
You can sprinkle hemp seeds on your salad as they are, in seed form, but if you’re not digging the extra crunch or if you just want to mix things up try this lemony dressing using hemp seeds. It is dairy free and vegan, so accompanies most diets and preferences quite well. This dressing has a fresh essence and is easy to make all by yourself. You’ll need hemp hearts, lemon juice, chive pieces, sprigs of dill (fresh), fresh cilantro, fresh parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, himalayan salt, and water.
Banana Chocolate Chia Pudding
Did I mention you can enjoy hemp seeds for dessert, too? They may be healthy and possibly cure some ailments, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also use them to cure our after-dinner sweet tooth. This pudding is both dairy free and vegan. It requires hemp seeds, banana, almond milk, cacao powder, medjool dates, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. After a little mixing, blending, then a short stay in the refrigerator, you’ll have a delicious and equally healthy dessert to wow even the most health-crazed of guests (One Green Planet).
These are just a few examples of ways to creatively incorporate hemp seeds into your life. You’ll find no shortage of inspiration and recipes in blogs and websites on the Internet, as hemp seeds are truly a special little seed sure to win your heart and the hearts of others.
- One Green Planet, All you need to know about hemp seeds, online.
- Dr. Axe, 7 heroic benefits of hemp seeds, online.
- Murray, J., About Food, Hemp seeds-What are hemp seeds?, online.
- Oh My Veggies, 4 ways to use hemp seeds, 2014, online.
- Seed Guides, Hemp seeds: benefits, nutrition, side effects, and facts, online.
- Image Source: flickr.com & greenmedinfo.com