Hemp: What Are The Benefits Of This "Superfood"?
What is hemp?
The hemp plant is a small annual herb grown in temperate zones, known for its role in food fibre and medicine production with its origins in Central Asia. Hemp was cultivated in China as early as 2800 BC, reached the Mediterranean region by the early Christian era, spread through Europe and was later brought to the Americas.
Today, Canada is a key agricultural producer of hemp seeds, whose cultivation was historically limited due to the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Since the 1990s, several countries have authorized the growth and processing of hemp plants containing reduced THC levels. The variety of cannabis plants cultivated for hemp contains less than 0.3% THC compared to plants grown for marijuana or hashish, meaning hemp seeds and hemp oil produce no mind-altering effect.
Hempseed oil is also different from cannabidiol (CBD) oil, produced using the stalks, leaves and florets of the hemp plant that contain higher concentrations of CBD, another potentially beneficial compound.
Hemp the superfood
Hemp seeds are a source of many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients such as:
- Omega-3 & Omega-6 fatty acids
- Vitamin E
Raw shelled hemp seeds or “hemp hearts” are sold as a health food, and hemp milk is increasingly popular due to a low-allergen potential that gives it an advantage over dairy or soy. Hemp seeds contain nearly as much protein as soybeans, and unlike most plant-based proteins they are a source of complete protein - they provide all of the essential amino acids - the building blocks for all proteins required by the human body. Hemp seeds are especially rich in the amino acid called "arginine" which is vital for heart health.
What can hemp do for your health?
- Arginine can reduce risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure
- Essential fatty acids present in a 3:1 ratio which is optimal for human health
- Fatty acids promote brain health
- Protects against inflammation, oxidation, and aging
- Hemp seed extract could prevent brain inflammation
- Stabilize blood sugars
- Promote gut health
- Can improve skin health
Incorporating hemp into your diet
Although the nutritional benefits are known, its many possible neutriceutical benefits need to be confirmed by further research. If you choose to incorporate hemp seeds into your diet, it's essential to buy from a reliable manufacturer to ensure THC levels do not exceed the legal limit for food-grade hemp. The hemp seeds you eat should be free of cannabis plant matter that may contain THC and other compounds.
Hemp seeds are readily available at your local grocery store, health food store, and online supermarkets!
Instead of removing things from your diet, try adding this nutritious plant! Hemp hearts and hemp milk can be easily added to many of your favourite meals.
Ways to use hemp
- Use hemp hearts in your smoothies or as a topping on oatmeal
- Hemp hearts have a nutty flavour - perfect as a salad or toast topping
- Hemp milk makes for a light but creamy liquid for cooking
- Use hemp hearts as an ingredient in your baking - perfect for energy balls or breakfast cookies
- Due to it's protein content, hemp milk is great for lattes