Last year, hemp finally became legal to sell and to use in food in Australia. You can now find it as an ingredient in many products such as bliss balls and in its own right in oils, seeds and powders in health food stores both online and in towns and cities. But what exactly is it and why would you want to eat it?
What’s the Difference Between Hemp & Marijuana?
First things first, hemp is not marijuana. Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant species ‘Cannabis sativa’, but hemp has been selectively bred over centuries to favour its agricultural and industrial properties, whereas marijuana was bred to favour its psychoactive properties – tetrahydrocannabinol (aka THC). Consuming hemp seeds and hemp products will not get you high like smoking marijuana will because they contain less than 0.001% of THC component. So they’re completely safe, healthy and legal to consume.
What Are the Health Benefits of Hemp?
- Rich in Fibre & Great for Gut Health
Hemp is high in insoluble and soluble fibre and is able to provide enough ‘bulk’ to keep you regular. Additionally, fibre does wonders for our gut microbiome. Fibre promotes the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) when it’s fermented by the bacteria in the large intestine. There are 3 main types of SCFAs and they have many important physiological functions. Two of the SCFAs, acetate and propionate are transported to the liver for energy production and also play a role in healthy cholesterol function and the management of inflammation. Butyrate, the other SCFA, provides an important energy source for the cells that line the colon and also plays a huge part in managing intestinal inflammation and helping immune function. So in short, the fibre from hemp helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut. You can more about Fibre & Its Benefits here.
- Rich in Plant Based Protein
The amount of protein in hemp seeds is closer to complete sources of protein than many other vegetarian alternatives. A 30g serving of hemp contains 10g of digestible protein, which is about 50-70% more protein than chia or flax.
- Contains Balanced Omega 3-6-9 Essential Fatty Acids
Not only are hemp foods rich in protein, they also contain all nine essential amino acids. When the hemp seeds are separated into powder and oil, the oil has a wonderful balance of omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids. Hemp oil can be used in salads, smoothies, dressings and dips.
- It’s Low Carb
For those watching their carbohydrate intake, hemp seeds are a natural, yet filling low-carb option, with around 33% coming from protein and around 40% from healthy fats.
- It’s Allergy Friendly
Hemp seeds, powder and oil are dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, allergen-free and non-GMO.
- Rich in Vitamins
Hemp also contains magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorous. Hemp seeds are sensitive to heat and light, so there’s no need to soak them. It’s also best to store them in a cool, dry place or in the fridge. You can add hemp seeds to smoothies, pesto, sprinkle them on salads or grind them up and sprinkle them on your yogurt or add them to bliss balls, chia puddings and more.
7. It’s Also Eco-Friendly
Hemp is one of the most versatile and eco-friendly crops in the world and many areas of Australia are perfect for growing hemp. Hemp is a pretty miraculous plant – it consumes four times more carbon dioxide than other trees and actually helps to replenish nutrients into the soil on which it’s grown. Unlike other plants, hemp needs a relatively small amount of water (ideal for Aussie farmers!) and doesn’t need dangerous hexanes or other chemicals to grow abundantly. The whole plant can be put to work in various ways, making its growth cycle a “zero waste” process. The hemp plant is one of the most widely utilised and diverse industrial crops in the world. In fact hemp has been used to make products such as building materials, plastics, textiles, body care products, cleaning products and of course health foods.
Have you tried using hemp? How did you use it?