When you think of hemp, you might think of weed. And, while the two plants are botanical cousins, they are as different as night and day.
In fact, hemp seeds are taking the food industry by storm. And, thanks to an impressive nutrient profile and nutty flavor, hemp seeds join quinoa, flax, chia and other nutrient-dense “super seeds” worthy of a place on your healthy menu.
What exactly is hemp?
Hemp has been used for ages to make fabric, rope, paper and other products. The seeds, in particular, are used to make all sorts of foods such as hemp oil, hemp milk, hemp flour, hemp-containing bars, cereals, chips and more.
Although hemp belongs to the same plant family (Cannabis sativa) as marijuana, there is one BIG difference. Hemp is specifically cultivated to practically eliminate tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the psychoactive in marijuana. So, there is no need to worry about getting high on hemp. It does, however, have an impressive nutrient profile worthy of a second look. And, its growing popularity means you’ll be seeing it in more foods.
Three teen-friendly benefits of choosing hemp
Hemp seeds offer a wide range of body benefits. They are packed with protein, healthy fats, and key vitamins and minerals. And, you get all this for about 170 calories per serving (about 3 tablespoons).
Here’s the breakdown:
- Builds muscle. Each serving provides 10 grams of plant protein (20% Daily Value) with all the essential amino acids in a form that’s easy to digest. In fact, nearly 25 percent of the calories in hemp seed are from protein, making it especially ideal for teens who want to build (or replenish) strong muscles for sports performance.
- Balances hormones and beyond. Each serving provides 13 grams of healthy fat (20% Daily Value). Hemp seeds provide a fatty acid profile that nutrition experts recommend for optimal heart and brain health. What’s more, it’s a source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a key omega-6 fatty acid that supports hormone balance.
- Delivers whole body benefits. Each serving is an excellent source (at least 20% Daily Value) of four essential vitamins and minerals — energizing thiamin, blood-building iron, muscle-activating magnesium and immune-boosting zinc. It is also a high-potency source (110% Daily Value) of manganese for a metabolic boost.
Adding hemp to your diet
Looking for a tasty way to incorporate hemp into your diet? Check out the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods website. Go straight to the Recipes tab where you’ll find a slew of ideas on how to use hemp foods in smoothies, breakfast ideas, entrees, appetizers and more.
Another delicious option, especially for breakfast, is a cereal called Qi’a™ (pronounced Kee-ah) Superfood made by Nature’s Path Organic. It not only includes hemp, but other super seeds such as chia and buckwheat. The natural vanilla flavor pairs well with plenty of teen favorites — Greek yogurt, steel-cut oats or just about any smoothie.
Variety is the spice of life. Be adventurous and keep an eye out for the many new foods that are just waiting for you! If you are looking to boost your intake of heart and brain healthy fats and don’t particularly care to eat cold water fish or take a supplement, consider sprinkling hemp seeds into the dishes that you enjoy.
Have a happy and healthy day!
Lorna Williams, MPH, RD
Co-author of Eating for A’s
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