Hemp, the Good Twin: How to Eat More Hempseeds
Did you ever know a family that had two children, perhaps they were even twins, and they were so different it made you wonder, “How are they from the same family??”
One kid wore white knee socks that were obsessively clean and unslouchy, and skipped everywhere swinging a leather-strapped stack of books. And the other kid smoked behind the school in fifth grade and wore a leather jacket and called everybody “Papi”.
The Cannabis sativa family has kids like that: Hemp and marijuana.
Both plants are classified as Cannabis sativa, but are grown in different ways to yield very different plants. Hemp plants are bred to maximize fiber, seeds, and/or oil, while marijuana plants are bred to maximize THC (the psychoactive constituent of marijuana).
Interestingly, hemp is probably one of the oldest industrial crops in the world
While hemp does contain THC, it’s only in tiny amounts, and will not produce any drug-like effects. Hemp has typical THC levels of between 0.05 and 1 percent in its flowers, whereas marijuana has THC levels ranging between 3 and 20 percent in its flowers. An individual would have to eat multiple pounds of hemp to get the smallest detectable buzz. So rather than eating five pounds of hemp in one sitting, you’re better off sniffing clary sage, which the aromatherapy hippies tell me can get you pretty euphoric.
All that to say, hemp is super safe, nutritious, and it won’t make you fail your drug test if you eat sane-person amounts. Remember, same parents, different twins (hemp being the “good” twin).
Interestingly, hemp is probably one of the oldest industrial crops in the world. Hemp plants can be used to make clothing and fabric, paper, rope, building materials like composite boards, and even biodegradable plastics!
And, of course, it can also be eaten.
Once removed from their shell, the small, soft seeds from the hemp plant, also known as hemp hearts, are nutrient-dense and delicious. Hemp hearts have a rich, nutty, and slightly sweet, grassy flavour.
Let’s explore some of hemp’s nutritional goodness:
Shelled hempseed is a great source of plant-based protein, and is one of the few vegetarian examples of a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids. Just three tablespoons contains 10 grams of protein!
Essential Fatty Acids
Hemp is also a great source of essential fats, including rich amounts of omega 3, which is rare in vegetarian sources. Hemp has an omega 3 to 6 ratio of about 1:3 or 1:4, which some experts say is the ideal ratio of fats for the human diet. Additionally, hemp contains high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which are two anti-inflammatory omega 6’s. This fatty acid profile makes hemp a great food for managing inflammation.
Vitamins & Antioxidants
Hemp contains good amounts of vitamin E, and it’s also high in brain-building, liver-supporting lecithin (which is primarily composed of B vitamins choline and inositol). Hemp is unique in that it is one of few in the nut/seed family that contains chlorophyll (the emerald-coloured antioxidant pigment found in all green plants). It’s not so obvious in a handful of dry hemp hearts, but if you blend them into a “butter” in the food processor, it will turn green as the chlorophyll gets released!
Because hempseeds naturally sprout on the hemp plant late in the growing season, they contain lower amounts of phytic acid. Phytic acid is a naturally occurring compound found in many plants, and tends to be particularly high in nuts and seeds, and can inhibit mineral absorption. Because of this late harvesting, hempseeds also contain higher amounts of enzymes, making it even more digestible and its nutrition better absorbed.
Hemp is so easy to add to the diet, it’s barely worth giving you recipes, but you know that’s how I’ll roll anyway. In addition to these ideas, I like to add hemp seeds to salads, smoothies, and sprinkled over soups. You can also just eat some by the handful – the original “fast food”!
Here are some more options:
I hope I catch you with some Cannabis sativa “on” you soon! You know, the “good” twin variety.
Alex Picot-Annand, BA (Psych), Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Certified Life Coach