So you’ve heard of clothing made with hemp and paper made with hemp, but food?
Until recently, hemp food products such as seeds, oils and milk have primarily been sold at natural food stores. With its increasing popularity, hemp hearts are now found in most grocery stores. They are even regular staples at Costco!
Derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant, there are a number of varieties of hemp used for different purposes. For example, it is used to make rope, wax, resin, clothing, pulp and paper, fuel, some oil-based paints, creams for moisturizing, and as animal and bird feed.
Growing hemp for food purposes has been controversial in the past. In fact, the U.S. Federal government banned the cultivation of hemp in 1957 because of confusion over its association with marijuana. There are a few U.S. states that have introduced legislation to support, research, and cultivate hemp so changes are on the horizon there. Within Canada, Health Canada has authorized and licensed commercial production of hemp since 1998. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp#Canada)
“Hemp is a genetic ‘cousin’ to marijuana but contains little to none of the THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana associated with the “high” sensation.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/18/first-hemp-harvest_n_4123628.html). Hemp seeds do not contain THC but the leaves of the plant do, so growers take precautions to avoid contamination of THC with the seeds. In Canada, “Producers are only allowed to plant certified seed – there is no “common” seed. All hemp planted must be an approved variety, all of which have less than 0.3% THC in them in field.” (http://www.hemptrade.ca/grow_hemp.php).
Hemp is a fantastic plant food that is both nutritious and tasty. Its nutritional profile boasts:
- High protein (over 30%) with an almost complete profile of amino acids that make it comparable to proteins such as meat, eggs, milk and soy;
- Highest concentration of polyunsaturated (good) fats;
- Rich in essential omega fatty acids (80%), having a perfect balance of omega-6’s to omega-3’s (4:1) needed by our human bodies for health and wellness;
- High concentrations of phytosterols, which help lower cholesterol, and have now been shown to be anticarcinogenic. Hemp’s chlorophyll content also increases its anticarcinogenic properties.
In summary, hemp’s health benefits include:
- Promoting heart and brain health,
- Lowering triglycerides,
- Helping maintain hormone balance,
- Helping build strong muscles,
- Protecting skin from sun damage,
- Reducing inflammation, and
- Supporting immune system.
Because hemp is largely made of edible oils, it must be stored properly to avoid oxidizing, which can make it go rancid. Store hemp in a dark container and refrigerate.
Hemp’s use is often promoted in breakfast foods, baked goods, protein shakes, and as toppings for salads. There are many creative ways to integrate this food into your diet. You can buy hemp in different forms such as raw and shelled (hemp hearts), seed, ground, nut butter, oil, milk, and flour.
The following are some recipes we thought you would enjoy trying.
Flourless Hemp Chia Cookies
This recipe is excellent! When we bake these, they get devoured very quickly. We like to use tahini or almond butter instead of the peanut butter.
Hemp Seed Pesto
A less expensive and more nutritious alternative to using pine nuts.