Exploding The Hemp ‘Myth’
The hemp plant is an agricultural crop and part of the Cannabis family of plants. Grown outdoors for millennia, Industrial Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis Sativa Plant and produces many products including foods. These days specific seed types have been cultivated to be grown outdoors and are rich in CBD but so low in THC as to have no psychoactive effect therefore no narcotic value.
So despite the much maligned myth the fact is that hemp is not a ‘drug’ and can actually be a very valuable tillage crop for farmers and agricultural based economies like Ireland.
Once the green leaves, flowers and seeds are harvested for food and food supplements, the fibre roots and stalks of the plant are incredibly useful for producing textiles, ropes and building materials along with many other applications. In this article we are going to focus on the unique qualities of hemp as food.
Here’s The Science Bit
The actual science behind the nutritional value of hemp emerged with the discovery of the human body’s endocannabinoid system in the 1990’s. In fact this was discovered as a direct result of scientists researching the impacts of THC in the body. Scientists not only found a vast array of additional compounds, of which THC is only one, but also receptors within the body for these compounds.
These receptors, called CB1 and CB2,were found throughout the vital support systems in the body, including the immune system and central nervous system. Their function is now known to maintain homeostasis (a state of optimal bodily wellness) and they do so by creating their own cannabinoids and also by interacting with the phyto-cannabinoids found in cannabis plants.
Hemp is literally jam packed with more than 100 individual cannabinoids, the most abundant and well known of these is cannabidiol or CBD. This broader range of compounds were suddenly realised as being integral to the optimal functioning of our bodies.
The discovery led to great interest in the properties of CBD rich varieties of hemp and the nutritional properties of food derived from them. Once again this ancient vegetable is poised to become an incredibly popular food that can supplement a well rounded and nutrition-packed diet.
Hemp Food History
Not a lot of people know this but Hemp is actually nature’s most complete source of plant based protein as well as being a nutritional powerhouse. One of the earliest known field crops grown for food, our ancestors recognised it as a fundamental building block to human health nutrition.
They knew this humble plant as one of the only foods which could sustain human life without any other source of nutrition. That’s why humans have been eating hemp for thousands of years – and as we discover the additional qualities of essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, terpenes and cannabinoids – it’s no surprise this wonder food has found its way back to our tables!
The phyto-cannabinoids found in the plant feed the endocannabinoid system and prime your body’s ability to maintain itself in a state of best health. It is the basis for a formidable symbiotic relationship. When systems of the body feel under par, there are many great ways available to us from hemp foods to get us back to our optimum selves.
From cold pressed oils and juices, to teas and tinctures, from raw seed in the natural state or processed into hemp hearts, protein powder and flour; more people are becoming aware of not just the plant’s nutritional benefits but also the many ways we can use its nutty earthy flavours to prepare great food.
Hemp Food Nutrition
Every cell in the human body contains protein but proteins themselves are made of chains of Amino Acids which bind together to create and repair our cells – they are vital for healthy growth and development, energy production, and are particularly important in the diets of children, teenagers and pregnant people. Not all of the Amino Acids we need can be made by our bodies and we have to get them from the foods we eat.
Happily they are all present in hemp seeds along with high levels of protein and nature’s supreme blend of fatty acids. A whopping 25% of raw hemp seed’s calories come from this quality protein, making this wonderfood a lot more nutritious than other protein sources such as chia or flaxseed – which both contain about 18% protein.
This all-star food also packs a punch by brimming with a cornucopia of vitamins, minerals and a healthy dose of insoluble fibre for digestion.
The further additions of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, and zinc – also available in hemp foods – play a role in the activation of T-cells in our immune system. Zinc activates lymphocytes which are necessary to initiate an immune response.
Just 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds provide more than 20 % of the recommended daily value of zinc. Hemp also provides a natural source of polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids with the perfect ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 EFA’s for another great boost to the immune system and its healthy functioning.
Recent research has identified hemp seed oil as being a ‘functional food’. Medical research has also shown that hemp seeds and hemp seed oils may offer some important health benefits in combating a wide range of conditions including heart disease, skin disorders and PMT.
And if you are still not convinced see what Jace Callaway, one of the world’s foremost authorities on hemp seed nutrition has to say:
“hemp seed oil is over 80% in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and is an exceptionally rich source of the two essential fatty acids (EFAs) linoleic acid (18:2 omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (18:3 omega-3). The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (n6/n3) in hempseed oil is normally between 2:1 and 3:1, which is considered to be optimal for human health”.
Back To Natural
There is exponential growth in popularity with consumers who make health conscious food choices and who are motivated by environmental concerns in their spending.
As we become more conscious of nutrition in our daily dietary choices we move away from highly processed foods to include more plant based goodness in our diets.
We have finally come full circle to understand through science what our earliest ancestors clearly knew from experience; nothing compares to hemp for human health nutrition!
In modern times, especially in the West, our protein sources have mostly come from eating meat and dairy produce. There are now major concerns about the sustainability of these food production stalwarts as well as general health concerns. By contrast the cultivation of hemp actually sequesters carbon and provides a break crop for farmers in other tillage food production.
As environmental awareness increases and we strive for healthier food options the demand for hemp food products is growing rapidly among consumers worldwide. Did you know that 100g of hemp seeds contain the exact same levels of protein as a 100g serving of beef or lamb?
Not only is this an excellent way for many of us to cut down on our red meat intake, but hemp seeds are now providing alternatives to dairy produce as milk, tofu and cheese. The plant is a clear natural choice for vegans and vegetarians,
Other Hemp Food Facts
- Hemp, being a plant, is completely free of dairy and gluten, making digestion a lot easier for humans including individuals with dietary sensitivities.
- Intaking your essential fatty acids from hemp removes concerns emerging about the presence of mercury and other pollutants found in fish oils which is a more well known source of EFA’s.
- Organic Hemp Seed is one of the most nutritionally valuable superfoods on earth. It is termed brain food because it helps increase the brain’s grey matter.
- Growing Hemp organically, chemical free and without pesticides is not only good for the planet but also has increased benefits for human health.
At The Hemp Company Dublin
We have unrivalled expertise in hemp food nutrition. For two decades we have sourced and developed the very best hemp foods made from organically grown, single variety seed to ensure our nutritious products are always superior in quality and taste.
Our best ecological practices and ethos support environmental sustainability and fair price partnerships with farmers and producers. Our aim is to offer complete whole-plant hemp nutritional goodness to our customers. The quality of the earth is essential to the purity of our hemp nuts, hearts, protein, and cold-pressed oil.
We recommend you try:
Organic Hemp Nuts
Hemp nuts contain the whole seed goodness in its natural form. Crunchy with a nutty flavour they can be eaten raw or lightly roasted for use in salads and cereals, trail mix, homemade energy bars, and bread. Hemp nuts have a 25% protein content which includes all of the Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) as well as a further range of vitamins and minerals. The raw nuts also provide a rare source of soluble and insoluble dietary fibres to aid healthy digestion.
Organic Hemp Hearts
Hemp hearts are the raw seeds with the hull removed. Removing the outer shell decreases the fibre content but enhances the available protein and releases higher levels of EFA’s including the essential omega 3&6 ratio so sought after. Hemp hearts have all the protein, vitamin and mineral goodness with a delicate nutty flavour and soft texture.
They are very versatile and make a perfect addition to smoothies, breakfast mix, yoghurt and salads. Also delicious in dips and spreads like hummus and pesto, hearts can be used as an addition to raw or uncooked dishes and any or all no bake recipes.
Organic Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp Seed Oil enriches every diet. Perfect in salad dressings, drizzled over greens or vegetables, pizza, rice or quinoa. It’s also great in hummus, pesto and smoothies. Consumed orally it promotes cardiovascular, hormonal, immune and nervous system function.
But that’s not all! Hemp Seed Oil can also be used as a moisturiser to regenerate and revitalise your skin’s protective layer. Rich in polyunsaturated essential fatty acids and delivering sizable amounts of Vitamin E, antioxidants and a powerful range of minerals, hemp seed oil is the ingredient your skin didn’t know it needed.
Used in conjunction with CBD, hemp seed oil is thought to enhance the receptivity of the endocannabinoid system now regarded as the master regulator of all bodily systems.
Organic Hemp Protein Powder
Hemp protein powder is produced by grinding the defatted cake created by cold-pressing hemp seeds to remove the oil content. It is a hypo-allergenic protein source suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets. With the ideal metabolic ratio (1:3) of Omega 3 & 6 with a protein content of Edestin, 66%, and Albumin, 33%, hemp protein powder ensures easy digestibility and free radical mop-up.
Rich in fibre, minerals and antioxidants, 100% pure hemp protein powders should be sourced from organic hemp seed and should contain no added fillers to ensure optimum impact after working out.
Kama Hemp Organic Juice Powder
Hemp seeds are certainly mother nature’s most complete source of plant-proteins but the green and flowering parts of the hemp plant, rich in cannabinoids and terpenes, come with a treasure chest of benefits all their own. Our whole plant (not from seed and not from concentrate) Kama Hemp Juice Powder is made on-farm from organically grown, hand-picked premium Irish hemp.
Harvested and juiced at the peak of the growing season, our juices are rich in CBDa, (the raw form of CBD) for better bioavailability! As well as the protein (36.35 g), the fibre (7.15 g), the vitamins (A, E, B3, B6, B12), fibre and a stunning range of minerals, every 100 g serving of our 100% Organic Hemp Juice also contains:
- Cannabinoids (1840 mg)
- CBDa (1560 mg)
- Terpenes (77 mg)
Some of Our Favorite Hemp Inspired Recipes
Looking for a bit of hemp-spiration when it comes to adding hemp to your diet? These are some of our favorite recipes:
½ cup hemp hearts
3 cups filtered water
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 tsp coconut oil
For chocolate flavour add 2-3 tbsp cacao powder
Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend for a few minutes until well blended. You can strain the milk but personally we believe there is no need to do that, milk is delicious, smooth and naturally creamy. Will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM
4 frozen banana
500g frozen strawberries
½ cup plant based milk
2 tbsp hemp protein powder
Blend all ingredients into smooth paste, transfer to bowls and enjoy!
ROASTED HEMP SEEDS
50g whole hemp seeds
1 tbsp olive oil
Heat the frying pan, add seeds, toast them for 4-5 min, add olive oil and salt, mix everything together and turn off the heat, transfer to a bowl and enjoy. Use chilli for a spicy kick or cinnamon for a sweet twist.
For more information on the benefits of hemp food supplements and the workings of the endocannabinoid system please visit our website where you can find links to up to date research on all aspects of hemp food. www.hempcompany.ie/plantknowledge