Hemp, a nutritional powerhouse

by | Dec 27, 2021 | Nutrition

Hemp seeds or hearts are a nutritional powerhouse, but do they have medicinal properties?

These brilliant seeds are a great source of healthy fats, protein, vitamin E and a number of important minerals. Hemp seeds are actually classified as a nut, they are easy to digest, and they have a mild nutty flavour which makes them a tasty option for salads, smoothies, breakfast cereal and stir-fry’s.

The hemp plant, just like Marijuana, is a member of the cannabis sativa family, but there are some major differences between these two plants that are worth discussing. Firstly the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC (THC is the compound that makes people feels ‘high’). The levels of THC found in the hemp plant is very low, and there is no THC found in the hemp seed. Secondly, Cannabidiol or CBD is the other famous active compound found in the cannabis family of plants. CBD has many therapeutic benefits, and the CBD content of the hemp plant can be up to 18%, but only trace amounts of CBD are found in the seed. The CBD content of hemp oil varies greatly. A high quality CBD rich oil will be expensive and will usually be labelled as ‘full spectrum hemp’ or ‘cannabidiol’ or ‘phytocannabinoil rich’. Unfortunately CBD rich oil is strictly regulated in Australia and its purchase still requires a prescription. The hemp oil we buy over the counter here is produced from the hemp seed and therefore contains no CBD.

Protein

Hemp seeds are a terrific protein source for plant based diets, with up to a quarter of the calories in hemp seeds being from protein. 3 tablespoons of hemp seed can provide around 11gm of protein, which is actually comparable to the protein content of red meat. It is also important to note that hemp seeds are considered a complete protein, which means they contain the full suite of amino acids required from the diet. Four of these amino acids are found in good quantities in the hemp seed. Arginine, which is linked to a reduction on heart related disease via the vaso dilating effects of its by product nitric oxide. Glutamic acid which is important for communication between nerve and brain cells. Methionine and Cysteine, which are vital for muscle building, cell function and antioxidant production.

Fat

Hemp seeds are more than 30% fat, and are very high in omega 6 and 3 fatty acids. Additionally these fatty acids are at a ratio of 3:1 which is considered to be ideal for your immune system and to provide benefits to the skin. Regular consumption of the seeds or oil may have a positive impact on skin conditions such as eczema as well as supporting a healthy immune response. Hemp oil can also be applied topically to dry flaky skin, and finally hemp oil also contains gamma linoleic acid which has valuable anti inflammatory properties, and has also been shown to reduce symptoms associated with menopause.

Nutrients and fibre

These tasty little seeds contain goods levels of, vitamin E, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, iron, magnesium, sulphur, calcium, and hemp seeds with the hull still intact (the dark green outer layer), also contain both soluble and in soluble fibre which is beneficial for gut health, blood sugar control, maintaining health cholesterol levels.

So whilst Hemp seeds and hemp oil in Australia may not contain the highly sort after CBD component it still presents us with a myriad of nutritional benefits across a range of body systems. So why not give it a try in your next salad or try it sprinkled on your breakfast cereal.

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