With marijuana now legalized for recreational use in Canada, it's a good time to talk about hemp, as many people may still have misconceptions about how the two plants differ. Marijuana and hemp may look the same growing in a farmer's field, but hemp is very different from marijuana and has been legal in Canada since 1998. And for good reason — hemp might just be one of the most sustainable protein sources that you can grow and it's very low in THC (less than 0.001 per cent) — essentially making it impossible to feel any psychoactive effect or get "high."
The perception of hemp foods around the world continues to shift as more and more people discover that they're extremely nutritious, incredibly versatile and can easily be added to a number of dishes as a way to get more plant-based protein and omegas.
Hemp is generally consumed in the form of seeds or oil. Hemp seeds are often "hulled" to remove the tough outer shell to reveal the easy-to-digest hemp hearts, which are high in healthy omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, protein, and minerals. They can be used to add crunch, a nutty flavour (similar to sunflower seeds or pine nuts) or creaminess to many recipes such as soups, salads, dressings, smoothies, desserts and energy bars.
Hemp hearts are also anti-inflammatory powerhouses, helping to relieve inflammatory symptoms like pain, redness and swelling. While inflammation is our body's natural healing response and is there to protect us from infections, irritants, imbalances or injury, inflammation can also become chronic if it gets out of control. Chronic inflammation can damage healthy cells, weaken the immune system and increase risk of health conditions. The good news is that there are many dietary changes you can make to decrease the level of inflammation in your body, and small but simple additions like hemp hearts can go a long way.
Here are five more reasons to add hemp hearts to your diet:
Hemp's protein profile is comparable to many types of meat, dairy, fish, and poultry, making it an excellent dietary protein source for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike.
Hemp hearts contain GLA, a healthy type of omega-6 fatty acid, which modulates the immune system and decreases inflammation in the body. This can help people who have rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and other auto-immune based inflammatory conditions.
Hemp hearts are rich in magnesium, a mineral that 75 per cent of the population is not getting enough of. By consuming hemp hearts, the risk of chronic diseases and inflammation may be decreased, especially in people with a magnesium deficiency.
Hemp hearts are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a vegan omega-3 and essential fat shown to lower the inflammation markers by 75 per cent. ALA is a cardioprotective nutrient that may decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Hemp hearts also contain all ten amino acids which is great for vegans and vegetarians looking for a single plant sourced protein to fuel their workouts.
If you're looking to get the whole family onboard with hemp, look for ones that are processed in a nut-free facility so that children can take them to school. Since hemp hearts are hypo-allergenic, they don't trigger the immune system like tree nuts or peanuts, making them the perfect thing to share with kids and seniors alike.
Want to enjoy more hemp hearts? Try this sweet recipe.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
These crimson gems will not only satisfy a sweet tooth, they also contain rich amounts of detoxifying ingredients to help hormonal balance.
- 1 1/4 cup beet puree (about 2 cooked beets)*
- ½ cup coconut flour
- 1 cup almond flour
- ½ cup Hemp Hearts
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp pink rock or grey sea salt
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- ½ cup honey or coconut nectar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a standard muffin pan with paper liners.
- Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl.
- Place coconut oil, honey, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and cooked beets into a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Add dry into wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Divide batter evenly into muffin tins and bake for 32-35 minutes.
Makes 12 cupcakes.
*Note: You can slice and steam the beets for 20 minutes or bake covered in oven for 1 hour or until soft enough to puncture with fork.
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