While I have written about hemp seeds here previously, this super food is so amazing that I feel it warrants another post. Before we go any further I have one thing to clear up – you are not going to get high from eating hemp seeds. While hemp seeds come from the same plant as marijuana (cannabis sativa), the variety of hemp that is grown for human consumption does not contain THC, which is the active ingredient in the drug.
The second thing that needs clarification is that hemp seeds are not in fact seeds at all – they are actually a fruit. These wonderful, nutty-tasting seeds pack a nutritional punch. Softer than sunflower seeds, hemp seeds have a mild and gentle flavour and should become a fast staple in your diet.
So what is so good about hemp seeds? First of all, these beauties are one of the best (and highest) sources of 100% plant-based, vegan protein. Just three tablespoons of these bad boys is the equivalent of 11 grams of protein. They are very easily digested by the body, which results in no bloating (as can be common with other vegetable protein sources, such as whey and soy), and they are extremely high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the anti-inflammatory good fats. Perhaps the best thing about the seeds is that they also contain an especially beneficial form of omega-6 known as gamma linoleic acid (GLA), which is not typically found in other foods. GLA is somewhat of a miracle worker, providing a whole host of health benefits, some of which include:
- Supporting and facilitating fat burning;
- Reducing PMS symptoms
- Promoting healthy hair, skin and nail growth;
- Decreasing inflammation in the body; and
- Helping to lower bad LDL cholesterol and improve good cholesterol ratio.
On top of all of this, hemp seeds contain all 10 essential amino acids.
So how do you get these seeds into your diet? One easy way to use hemp seeds is to incorporate them with your regular meals. The most common ways to use them include blending them into a smoothie, or using them as a garnish on salads or soups. Unless you are using a tonne of them, their mild flavour makes them virtually undetectable to taste. You can also include the seeds in baking – add to breads, healthy cookies or protein muffins – as well as pestos, dips and salad dressings. The seeds serve as a great crust to fish or meat too, acting as a replacement for nuts or other seeds.
You can also find hemp milk available in some grocery stores. This milk is made by grinding the seeds with filtered water. This is a great option for a dairy alternative, and again can be used as a smoothie base, cocoa or pancake batter. Hemp butters are also becoming more widely available, which can act as a great replacement for nut butters.
I wrote a piece recently here about why I don’t use protein powders. Hemp seeds can act as a great replacement for the artificial powders you buy in stores. I often eat a tablespoon of the seeds on their own following a strength training workout, or you can mix them with chia seeds in some water and drink like a protein shake.
Try to include hemp seeds in your diet for an amazing natural, vegan and complete protein boost.