The Health Benefits of Hemp
Hemp has been used for centuries around the world to produce industrial items such as rope, clothing, fuel and paper. As one of the oldest cultivated crops, novel uses of hemp continue to emerge every day, however, this nutrient dense superfood is now becoming a popular staple in the kitchen.
Here are some reasons to add some hemp into your life.
But First, the Difference between Hemp and Marijuana
Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant derived from the fiber and seed components while marijuana is derived from the flower portion of the same species. Hemp has negligible concentrations of the psychoactive chemical THC or tetrahydrocannabinol which is the active constituent of marijuana. The low THC content of hemp means that it does not have the same psychoactive and medicinal effects as marijuana. Although both plants come from the same species, hemp and marijuana are genetically different and require unique cultivation methods.
Hemp Contains Essential Oils for Your Heart, Skin and Hair
Hemp naturally contains essential oils such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids keep your skin hydrated, your arteries flexible and are therefore essential for maintaining good circulation to your heart and brain. Gamma linolenic acid, a type of omega-6 fat is great for preventing chronic inflammation and for reducing elevated blood cholesterol levels.
Hemp seeds are a great source of unprocessed hemp oil; the nutty flavor is a nutritious addition to salad, smoothies and baking dishes. You can also try adding Nutiva’s Organic Hemp Oil directly to your salad dressings. Used externally, hemp oil is also of great for adding shine to your hair and a wonderful addition to your bath water. You can find it as a key component in cleansers and soap such as Mountain Sky’s Soaps Rasta Bar Hemp Bar Soap.
Boost Your Fiber Intake with Hemp
Exploited for its tough fibrous qualities in the manufacturing industry, hemp is also a great source of dietary fiber. There are two types of fiber that are important for your health; soluble and insoluble fiber and hemp seeds contain both. Soluble fiber absorbs water while traveling along your digestive tract, while insoluble fiber works like a broom adding bulk to your stool. The average adult requires 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day for bowel regularity and to keep cholesterol levels in check. The good news is that hemp seeds and hemp flour are a good source of both types of fiber.
Hemp is a Plant-Based Protein Option
Hemp foods are rich in protein, an important foundation to any diet. Protein is the building block for your muscles and hormones and it also helps to slow the rate at which your blood sugar increases after a meal. With adequate protein in your diet, you tend to feel fuller longer and you can keep sugar cravings at bay.
Hemp protein powder is a complete plant-based protein option boasting all 20 amino acids. Foods Alive Hemp Protein is one of our favorites. It’s a great supplement for after a workout, as well as in smoothies, pancake mixes and in baking.
If you prefer to use hemp seeds, give Manitoba Harvest’s Organic Hemp Hearts a try and keep in mind that just 3 tablespoons contain 10 grams of protein. This makes it an ideal topper for a breakfast yogurt parfait.
It Contains Vitamin D!
This is great news for everyone, but especially if you are sun shy, have low blood vitamin D levels and if you are lactose intolerant or avoid vitamin D-enriched foods. Just 4 heaping tablespoons of hemp seeds contains almost 1000 international units of vitamin D. This powerful nutrient keeps your immune system primed for defense and is a key factor in preventing and treating osteoporosis. Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins to consider supplementing if you live in northern latitudes as deficiency in these areas is very common and whenever you can get your nutrients from your food, it’s a bonus.
Hemp is a nutrition powerhouse and is of great value to your health and longevity. We hope this primer on hemp gave you some nutritious ideas to get you started with this awesome functional food.