Hemp has been getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. While the spike in interest is largely due to the rising popularity of cannabidiol (CBD)—found within both hemp and its close cousin, marijuana—the benefits of ingesting hemp are becoming more well-known. From a nutritional standpoint, hemp is rich in healthy fats, minerals, and protein. Despite what some may think, it doesn’t get you high, either—only trace amounts of THC (the psychoactive compound found in marijuana) are present in hemp.
So, why should you be incorporating hemp products into your diet? Here are a handful of reasons to “choose hemp,” all of which can lead to a healthier and more productive you.
Though the world’s obsession with meat and animal products is no doubt excessive, the fact remains that protein is indeed an essential macro that helps keep us full while sustaining energy levels. While plenty of plant-based substitutes for animal proteins exist—soy and seitan come to mind—perhaps none are quite as “complete” a protein source as hemp seeds. That is to say that hemp protein is comprised of nine essential amino acids, with seeds containing 10 grams of protein per serving. The body can convert this fuel into whatever type of protein it requires, ranging from insulin and collagen to enzymes and antibodies.
It is, in essence, the “perfect” protein for those looking to embrace cleaner, more mindful eating habits.
Protein may seem like the star of the show when it comes to hemp’s nutritional benefits, but it’s far from being the only macro contained within the plant. As with chia and flax, hemp seeds also contain large amounts of essential fatty acids such as Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s. For this reason, many people choose to “stack” small amounts of all three seeds at once when preparing meals, which provides both a whopping amount of essential fatty acids and crucial protein-building amino acids in a single setting.
Since the body cannot synthesize essential fatty acids on its own, the more that can be introduced through diet, the better, and hemp is a great vehicle for doing so.
Fiber plays a crucial part of a balanced diet and is associated with significant health benefits. The problem, however, is that studies have shown the vast majority of Americans do not eat nearly enough fiber on a regular basis. Consider hemp seeds, however, which provide 8% of the recommended daily amount of fiber in just a single serving.
While many people downplay the importance of fiber, diets which lack enough dietary fiber can contribute to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain forms of cancer. Combined with a wealth of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B1, zinc, iron, and magnesium, it’s no wonder why hemp seeds are so often considered to be one of the best foods for increasing daily fiber intake.
Since hemp fiber is used for a variety of manufacturing processes (such as textiles and even certain types of plastics), it stands to reason why some might assume hemp seeds and hearts (shelled hemp seeds) don’t taste very good. Fortunately for those who are on the fence, the opposite is true! Hemp is actually rather subtle in flavor, with a light, toasted nuttiness that complements a wide variety of different foods.
Since hemp is almost always incorporated into meals as opposed to being eaten on its own, any threat of being distasteful can usually be addressed by balancing hemp hearts with more assertive flavors, such as spicy greens or sweet stone fruits.
One of the main reasons why hemp hearts hold so much potential for boosting nutrition is that they’re incredibly easy to incorporate into just about any diet. Hemp hearts in particular can be sprinkled over salads, yogurt, cereal, and roasted vegetable dishes, while hemp protein powder needs little more than to be dumped into a smoothie in order to unlock its potential. Since hemp protein is relatively inexpensive, it’s possible to make it a regular part of your daily diet with minimal associated costs and/or effort.
Just as with CBD, hemp is far from a “wondercure” capable of solving all the world’s problems the way it’s often touted in the media. What it is, however, is an incredibly versatile plant capable of providing a wealth of nutrition benefits when properly incorporated into one’s diet. Whether you’re interested in boosting heart health, looking to move away from animal proteins or are simply curious about the plant, there’s never been a better time than now to enjoy the nutritional benefits of hemp.