Hemp seeds are considered one of the most valuable plant-based proteins out there. Here’s what you need to know about how to eat them.
Hemp seeds are, pretty much, as the name implies—the seeds of the hemp plant. Sometimes, the seeds are also referred to as hemp hearts. The seeds of hemp plants are edible and are considered highly nutritious with a significant concentration of soluble and insoluble fibre, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for heart health and skin health.
Hemp plants are grown for non-drug use because they contain only trace amounts of THC (the psychoactive component of the marijuana plant that is responsible for getting a person high). The leaves can be used to make a tea, but it’s the seeds that contain most of the plant’s nutrients. In fact, hemp seeds have over 30% fat (which is a good thing!), including essential fatty acids.
These seeds are high in insoluble and soluble fibre, rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which has been linked in studies to many health benefits, offers a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. A 2016 study discovered that GLA has very strong anti-inflammatory properties and has a “great potential to dampen [the] inflammatory processes and improve signs and symptoms of several inflammatory diseases.”
Hemp seeds contain the perfect 3-to-1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which is considered the optimal ratio for heart and brain health. This ratio is difficult to attain in the Western diet, as most foods contain far too many omega-6 fatty acids (like vegetable oil) and not nearly enough omega-3 fatty acids. The seeds also include significant amounts of magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc, all very important for active individuals!
The high content of 20% soluble and 80% insoluble fibre, in whole hemp seeds may aid in digestion while helping to lower bad cholesterol and improve heart health. The insoluble fibre in hemp seeds has also been linked with a lower risk of diabetes.
They’re easy to eat and cook with, and they have a pleasantly nutty taste, like a cross between a sunflower seed and a pine nut. Eating shelled hemp seeds, or hemp hearts, is as simple as sprinkling tablespoon into smoothies or on top of cereal, salads, or yogurt.
People with gluten intolerances can use hemp seeds as a substitute for breadcrumbs to coat proteins or meat alternatives. Just like you can blend nuts and water to make nut milk, you can do the same with hemp seeds for hemp seed milk, which you can use as an alternative to dairy milk in drinks and recipes. PLUS, because of its nutty flavour, hemp seeds make a great substitute for people with nut allergies—you can dry-toast them over low heat to bring out even more of that nuttiness.
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