Discover why there’s such a buzz about hemp seeds the latest superfood.
By: Anne King, Dominican University Nutrition and Dietetics Student
Hemp seeds are a nutritional-powerhouse, but they’ve gotten a bad rap. Here’s the deal. Hemp seeds come from the plant Cannabis Sativa, yes, the same plant marijuana comes from. However, there is no THC in hemp seeds. THC is what gives you that “high” feeling and it’s found in the hemp leaf. While hemp seeds may be tiny, they certainly pack a healthy nutrient punch. A two- tablespoon serving of hemp seeds provides 90 calories, 6 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber along with iron, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin E. Here are just a few of the health benefits you can reap from eating hemp seeds:
- Lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart attack. Hemp seeds are rich in two fatty acids that play a major role in heart health: linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega- 3).
- Muscle growth and repair. Hemp seeds are a high quality, compete protein just like red meat, poultry, fish, and eggs except they come from a plant making them perfect for vegetarians and vegans.
- Manage blood sugar swings and curb appetite. The high fiber content of hemp seeds is ideal for people with diabetes or anyone trying to lose weight.
How to Buy Hemp
While your local supermarket and health food stores carry hemp seeds, purchasing them can be confusing because they come in many forms. For example, hemp seeds come whole, dehulled, and as oil. Keep in mind, that protein digestibility depends on if the hemp seeds are dehulled or whole. Humans digest the protein better when the hemp seeds are dehulled. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, hemp seeds are in the same range for protein digestibility as lentils, pinto beans, and chickpeas and they are above almonds and whole wheat. You can also find hemp seeds in the following forms: sprouted, ground into flour, made into milk, and packaged as hemp protein powder.
Got the Munchies?
Hemp seeds may be healthy, but how do they taste? These small, pale-yellow to dark-brown seeds have a nutty, earthy flavor that’s perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. Here are a few tips for adding hemp seeds to your meals:
- Sprinkle hemp seeds over yogurt or oatmeal for added crunch.
- Bake with hemp seeds by stirring them into the batter. Two recipes to try Gingerbread Hemp Seed Muffins and Pumpkin Hemp Seed Bread.
- Grind up whole hemp seeds to make hemp flour.
- Substitute hemp seeds for pine nuts when making pesto.
- Drizzle hemp oil over salads, soups or vegetables. It can’t be heated to high temperatures so it’s best to add after cooking.
- Blend hemp protein powder into smoothies and shakes.