by Kate Geagan MS, RD 06/13/2013
Looking for a super simple addition you can make to your diet this summer that delivers significant health benefits? Say hello to hemp.
If the thought of eating hemp makes you a little uneasy, rest assured that the edible hemp seeds you see in the store do not contain THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana). In fact, you should think of hemp in the same way you do poppy seeds – which come from the opium plant.
Hemp has rapidly gone mainstream, available in most supermarkets in seeds, powder, milk, butters and oils. And its impressive nutrition prowess makes it worthy of superfood status. Here’s why:
Hemp seeds are packed with high-quality protein and all the essential amino acids we need. Just 2 tablespoons of hemp hearts provides 5 grams of protein – almost as much as an egg, which has 6 grams.
Hemp is rich in essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 fats, which may help reduce the risk of depression and reduce the clotting factors associated with heart disease. Hemp is also a good source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid that plays an important role in regulating blood pressure and inflammation. Score one more for hemp because hemp hearts offer an almost perfect balance of the omega-6 to omega-3 fats at a 3:1 ratio, making them a wonderful food to include for promoting optimum health.
Vitamin E and More
As with many other seeds, hemp seeds deliver a significant amount of vitamin E, an antioxidant. Magnesium and iron are two other nutrients of note in this mighty little seed.
How to Enjoy Hemp Now:
- Hemp seeds (also called “hearts”) can easily be added to yogurt, hot or cold breakfast cereal, salads or smoothies.
- Swap out 1/4 of the flour called for in baking for hemp: cookies, muffins or pancakes can get a nice nutrition boost.
- Need an extra protein boost before your workout? Try adding a scoop of hemp powder.
- Toast hemp seeds to make a crust for salmon therefore getting double your dose of omega-3s.
- For a summer snack blend hemp seeds, chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and cumin to make a hemp hummus: enjoy with a plate of your favorite sliced veggies.
- Try hemp milk instead of cow’s milk or soy milk.
- Look for hemp oil in the grocery store-and use in salad dressings drizzled on your favorite stir fry. (Note: Hemp oil is a bit fragile, so it should be stored in a cool, dark place).