by Anna Hunt
Hemp, or cannabis sativa, has been called the world’s most versatile and useful plant for many reasons, one of which is because it benefits the human body. Hemp seeds are becoming a welcome addition to the diet of many health-conscious individuals, who have let go of the delusion that anything related marijuana or cannabis is bad, a common misconception imposed on the public over the last 80 years of federal cannabis prohibition.
The simple fact is that hemp seed is one of the most nutritionally complete foods available. Take a look:
- Hemp seed food products, depending on how they are processed, offer some or all of the following: the ideal ratio of Omega-3/Omega-6 fatty acids, all 10 essential Amino Acids, digestible protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin D, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
- Hemp refers to strains of cannabis sativa that have been bred specifically for fiber used for clothing and construction, oils and topical ointments, nutritional benefits, and a wide and growing variety of other purposes that don’t involve intoxication.
- There are different varieties of hemp – a plant grown for seed isn’t necessarily the best plant for fiber.
It’s about time that the mass public breaks free of anti-cannabis drug-war programming, which used the slang word marijuana to instill fear of “pot-smoking Mexicans.” Here are 7 categories of how you can start consuming hemp and reap the health benefits of this amazing plant.
Hemp Food Products
1. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are often sold shelled, so you can eat them right out of the package. They offer easily digestible protein and all the essential Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids needed by the human body. Hemp seeds are also rich in antioxidants, fiber, various minerals, and many vitamins including a hefty dose of vitamin E. They have been used to reduce dry skin and hair, help with muscle regeneration, reduce inflammation, ward off heart disease, and improve immune system function.
These nutritious and healing seeds are starting to be a favorite among vegans and health fanatics, and are often added to smoothies, cereals, oatmeal, and on top of salads.
2. Hemp Milk
Hemp seeds can be blended with water to make a healthy milk substitute, a nice option for people with nut and soy allergies, although the flavor of hemp milk is less sweet than raw almond milk or cow’s milk. It can be used in baking or to make some homemade hot chocolate. You can buy hemp milk in a box, which may have added sweeteners (for example, the recommended product below is sweetened with brown rice syrup), but it is really easy to make. Take half a cup of shelled hemp seeds and 2 cups of water, blend for about 3-5 minutes and then strain through a nut-milk bag or cheesecloth. It’s that easy!
3. Hemp Seed Oil
Unlike the medicinal cannabis oil high in intoxicating delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, hemp seed oil is cold-pressed from hemp seeds and can be used in many recipes such as sauces, dips, spreads, marinades and salad dressings. It is typically nutty in flavor and has a light green color. It does not give you buzz, aside from infusing your body with rich omega-3 fatty acids and the more rare ‘super’ polyunsaturated fatty acids, notably gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid (SDA).
4. Hemp Protein Powder
Hemp protein powder is typically made by cold-milling hemp seeds. This results in a product that has less fat than hemp seeds, thus the final product has mostly the natural protein found in the seeds. Lean sources of protein are beneficial for digestion, they boost metabolism, and they promoting a healthy, lean body mass. Three tablespoons of hemp protein powder contains roughly 90 calories with only 3 grams of fat but 15 grams of protein. Some hemp protein powders are also supplemented with fiber for people looking to increase their overall fiber consumption.
Remember: Hemp food products are different from what you will find in medical cannabis baked goods. So putting hemp seeds on your sweet potato casserole won’t get you high. Now, you can purchase an alcoholic Hemp Ale, compliments of the Humboldt Brewing Co, although it’s not likely to pack the same nutritional value as the hemp seed products above the “high” that you’ll get from medical cannabis baked goods.
5. Hemp Supplements
You may not always have access to your favorite hemp foods, especially when you are traveling. Hemp oil supplements are a great option to continue benefiting from the nutritional value of hemp seed oil while on the go.
Hemp Beauty & Personal Care Products
Both women and men can benefit from ditching traditional body products which can be laden with various potentially dangerous chemicals. Here is a list of a few body care applications for hemp-based products:
6. Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil can be used topically in many different ways: as a skin moisturizer, anti-wrinkle treatment, massage oil, etc. It can be used to treat eczema, acne, psoriasis, and skin inflammation. The ideal balance of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in hemp seed oil stimulate the skin and improve the overall function of cells, muscles, tissues and organs. And don’t forget the skin is our largest organ!
Hemp seed oil can be used directly on the skin or you can use it as a carrier oil mixed with a few drops of essential oils that also benefit the skin, such as geranium or frankincense essential oils. This makes for a great skin moisturizer that is paraben free, gluten free and 100% began. You can also purchase pre-made body moisturizers enriched with hemp seed oil.
7. Hemp Soaps and Shampoos
As more people in the world learn about the benefits that hemp seed oil has on the skin and body, more producers are using hemp seed oil as an ingredient in their personal care products. In addition to replenishing the skin, hemp seed oil also stimulates hair growth, fortifies hair against damage, and moisturizes the scalp.
Hemp oil, labelled GOOD OIL, can be purchased in the UK from Waitrose and some Tesco stores.
Hemp seed is ready available in the UK from health food stores, Holland & Barrett and some major grocery stores. My last pack was purchased from Asda.
Hemp is rich in omega fatty acids, which are prone to breaking down and spoiling. The one thing you want to look for when buying a bag of hemp seeds is a totally opaque package that doesn’t have a window for you to look at the actual seeds. A window means the contents of the bag are being exposed to light, which means it’s likelier those omegas will spoil quicker and go rancid. Also look for a “packaged on” or “best before” date on the bag and buy the newest product you can find. This will help prolong your hemp seeds’ freshness.
How to Store
Once open, put the package or its contents in an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze it to extend the shelf life. Once opened, you can expect a bag of hemp seeds to last for about a year in the refrigerator or freezer. If you keep a package in your pantry, however, that shelf life will be more like 3 to 4 months. If you give your bag of seeds a sniff and they smell rancid, toss them.