The hemp plant has been cultivated for approximately 12,000 years and is one of man’s earliest crops. The benefits of the seeds have been known for about 3000 years, where it has been used medicinally and is a dietary mainstay in China. Hemp seeds are a compete protein containing all twenty amino acids. Today, China continues to be the primary source for hemp, with France as another country growing the crop. While most of the world finds hemp a valuable commodity, the United States has banned all cannabis plants, not differentiating marijuana from hemp, which contains only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the active compound in marijuana. Hemp seeds have many applications aside from a nutritional addition to recipes; there is hemp milk, hemp butter, hemp tofu and hemp protein.
Because whole hemp seeds are a complete protein they are an excellent source of amino acids for vegetarians, and especially vegans. Whole hemp seeds are also high in minerals like magnesium, iron and potassium and provide fiber in the diet.
Here are 4 amazing health benefits of these little seeds:
1. Hemp seeds can reduce the risk of heart disease because they have a high content of the amino acid arginine, which produces nitric oxide in the body. Arginine is a gas molecule that dilates and relaxes the blood vessels which lowers blood pressure.
2. Studies have shown that hemp seeds are conducive to balancing hormones in the female body during premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause because they contain a high amount of Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). This amino acid produces prostaglandin E1, which reduces the effects of prolactin, a factor in both PMS and menopause symptoms. These studies have revealed a significant decrease in depression, irritability, fluid retention and breast pain and tenderness.
3. Hemp seeds have been found to be a possible factor in digestive function because they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel in the digestive tract which feeds the beneficial digestive bacteria, reduces the blood sugar spikes and regulates cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the fecal matter which aids in the movement of waste matter and has been thought to reduce the risk of diabetes.
4. To add to hemp’s benefits, it is the richest known source of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids and naturally occurring botanical source of essential fatty acid, containing more than that of flax seed and other nut and seed oils. It contains the perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 Linolenic Acid which aids in cardiovascular health and strengthens the immune system.
Hemp seeds are safe to eat. It is important to note that only whole hemp seeds contain healthful benefits. Hemp seeds that have been de-hulled have little nutritional benefit. With this factor in consideration, hemp seeds are an essential addition to any diet and will add flavor and texture to many recipes.
Hemp seed Pina Colada Salad with Pina Colada hemp seed dressing
5 leaves Kale
2 cups Pineapple chunks
2 cups Coconut, grated
½ cup Hemp seeds
1 large Cucumber
1. Cut kale leaves into 2” pieces and place in a salad serving bowl.
2. Cut pineapple into bite sized chunks and mix with the kale.
3. Add the grated coconut to the kale and pineapple and mix.
4. Add the hemp seed and mix again.
5. Dice the cucumber and mix into the salad.
½ cup Sour cream
¼ cup Pineapple
¼ cup Pineapple juice
¼ cup Coconut, grated
¼ cup Coconut nectar
1. In a mixing bowl add sour cream, pineapple and coconut and mix together.
2. Add coconut nectar slowly to the mixture to keep a creamy texture.
3. Mix in enough of the pineapple juice to reach salad dressing consistency.
4. Chill for fifteen minutes and serve.
Photo Credit: "Hemp Seeds" by Mixmygranola is licensed under CC BY 2.0