The hype about hemp

The hype about hemp

The new nutritional superstar, hemp has been approved for consumption after years of being prohibited. Hemp is a variety of the plant cannabis sativa L, however it is not marijauna and with low levels of THC it won’t alter your state of mind or bodily function.

We’re seeing hemp in stores sold as seeds, milk, oil, protein, flakes…and I am also predicting banana bread in the near future. Internationally, hemp is used in pasta and pasta as well as ice-cream! So what just are the nutritional benefits and are these seeds worth the hype.

1/ Vitamins and Minerals

Hemp contains high amounts of vitamin E, B vitamins including folate and thiamin as well as minerals such as potassium, magnesium and iron. Each of these vitamins and minerals have important roles within the body including hair and skin health, muscle contraction and metabolism.

2/ Heart healthy fats

Hemp seed oil contains around 75% polyunsaturated (heart healthy) fats, particularly omega 6 (LA) and omega 3 (ALA). Hemp boasts these fatty acids in a ratio of 3:1 which is considered ideal in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammatory conditions. Take this lightly and note your total fat intake would also need to reflect a similar ratio to get this suppressive effect. Nevertheless one tablespoon of hemp seed oil contains 3000mg of ALA which is more than the recommended dietary daily intake.

ALA is the precursor to long chain fatty acids EPA and DHA which support heart, brain and eye health. Unfortunately the conversion rate is very low – about 1% – so if you’re looking to to get the heart health benefits from omega 3’s it’s best to obtain them straight from the source, fatty fish or marine algae.

3/ Fibre

Most of us should eat more fibre. Hemp contains both soluble and insoluble fibre (when the hull is intact) both being equally important for digestive health and reducing the risk of chronic disease. Just one tablespoon of hemp contains eight grams of fibre. A sprinkle of these magic seeds may assist with appetite regulation and stabilising blood sugar levels.

4/ Protein

A good news story for vegans, hemp is a great source of plant based protein being almost as high as soybeans – nine grams in one tablespoon. Containing all nine essential amino acids they are a perfect protein boost to a vegan or vegetarian diet. The digestibility of hemp protein is similar to that other plant based proteins – grains, nuts and pulses.

6 ways to include Hemp in your diet:

  • Sprinkle seeds on your morning porridge or salad at lunch
  • Make a salad dressing with hemp oil, lemon juice and cracked pepper
  • Use hemp protein in a fruit smoothie
  • Combine with parmesan to coat chicken or fish before baking
  • Blend hemp seeds and chickpeas for a tasty hummus

Melanie Olsen