There is a lot of misinformation and confusion surrounding hemp seeds, and many people do not eat them fearing they might contain psychoactive substances. But the reality is entirely different: hemp seeds and oils are highly nourishing and have been consumed for thousands of years.
Hemp is one of the plants derived from cannabis, and it is used in a broad variety of products such as biofuels, industrial fabrics and textiles, garments, bags, and even strong ropes (as those employed by firefighters).
The seeds are helpful in making massage and edible oils, as well as a protein powder highly popular among athletes and vegans. Contrary to popular belief, hemp seeds do not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive substance derived from another cannabis plant: marijuana.
The seeds have significant nutritional values:
1 – High-quality proteins
Hemp seeds contain about 23% protein, a little more than most legumes or nuts. This complete protein comes with all the essential amino acids and is easy to digest. Protein is an essential macronutrient for good health and is even more vital for athletes.
2 – Very low carbohydrate contents
The low carb content of hemp seeds makes them a good food to eat when we want to reduce body fat and follow a low carb diet.
3 –Omega 3-6 ratio for better health
Hemp seeds are one of the greatest sources of Omega 3 and 6 in the vegetable world with a magnificent ration of 3/1 (three parts Omega 6 per one part Omega 3)). Such fatty acid ratio helps improve the immune system and reduce the symptoms of diseases like cancer, arthritis, and asthma. They can even lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease by 70%.
4 – Excellent to satisfy hunger and reduce body fat
These seeds have an ideal combination to make you feel satisfied after eating them. They contain a high fiber content (over 30% in the case of whole seeds), proteins, which consumed in generous amounts can lower the level of ghrelin (the hormone that induces hunger), and healthy fats, whose intake increases the levels of cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that produces the feeling of satiety. Adding hemp seeds to your salads or other dishes will make you feel more satisfied which, in turn, can help you control the calories you eat.
5 – An excellent choice for athletes
With such high amounts of protein, hemp seeds are an excellent choice to include in the diet of any athlete who needs a high protein intake. In this case, it is best to take them in powder form, which contains about 50% protein of excellent quality, and essential fatty acids (amino acids that the body may not produce, and have to be ingested through our diet).
6 – High content of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
Hemp seeds are also rich in vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, C, D, and E; in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron; carotene (a source of vitamin A), and cysteine (an amino acid that acts as an antioxidant).
How to eat them
The seeds come whole or peeled, and you can eat them as a snack, germinate them, add to vegetable drinks, toast them in the oven, or include them in salads, biscuits, and other dishes. You can add hemp oil to salad dressings, potatoes, and all kinds of foods and hemp flour can be used to make pizza crusts.
As a dietary supplement, the powdered protein is used for milkshakes with banana, mango and various types of vegetable milk, such as oats, rice, almond and coconut milk, among many others.
As you can see, there is nothing to fear and much to gain with hemp. ■
About the author: Jorge Garcia is a renowned Spanish vegan coach. For more information, visit his website:www.tuentrenadorvegano.com.