by Dana Gross
Hemp has experienced a recent boom in the American market, and though it may have something to do with its CBD content and marijuana sister plant legalization in many states when you consider hemp’s versatile form and benefits it’s not hard to understand why. Let’s take a closer look at hemp and decide if it deserves to make it on to your essential ingredients’ list.
A brief history of hemp in the United States
The hemp crop may have first been utilized by marines during the middle ages for its strong and durable characteristics. It was used as rope on ships due to its durability, long lifespan and its ability to withstand saltwater without rotting or deteriorating. Most clothing, in fact, was made from hemp before the 1920s, until they discovered that cotton was much easier to farm and harvest.
Only a few years later hemp was banned in the United States and Canada. By the 1970s Nixon declared hemp as a member of the cannabis community during his ‘war on drugs’ campaign, which led to further misunderstanding and harmful associations in the minds of the American people. However, all that changed in 2014 when President Obama passed the US Farm Bill, which allowed researchers to further investigate industrial hemp. By 2018 Trump further advanced the Farm Bill by allowing the production of industrial hemp in the United States, and so here we are today, reaping the benefits of hemp in all of its glory.
So, what exactly are the benefits of hemp? Well, the real question is, where should we begin? Let’s begin with hemp seed, which is the seed extracted from Cannabis sativa, the official name of the hemp plant. Most health food stores sell hulled hemp seed, also known as hemp hearts. Hemp seeds are praised for their high concentrations of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids found in hemp seed may help reduce inflammation in the body, which has the potential to alleviate many uncomfortable conditions like, constipation, arthritis, eczema, and acne.
These nutty seeds also contain high levels of high-quality protein, which explains why so many vegan protein powders are sourced from hemp. For instance, only three tablespoons of hemp contain 9.47 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and only 1.20 grams of fat. Alongside its high protein content, hemp seeds also contain vitamin E, which is great for skin and hair. You will also find minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc nestled into these tiny seeds. The amino acid, arginine, found in hemp is said to reduce blood pressure due to the nitric oxide it produces in the body. If you choose to buy hemp seed with their skin, then you can consume higher levels of fiber, which is great for gut health.
Hemp oil has been used in China as both food and medicine for over 3,000 years and counting! Both the seed and the oil can help improve skin conditions. As mentioned earlier, the anti-inflammatory properties in hemp can significantly aid in reducing skin flares in acne-prone skin and relieve dry itchy skin conditions. The fiber found on the shell of hemp seed is also said to aid in skin disorders. If you want to utilize the health benefits outside of the kitchen, then you can apply the oil directly onto your skin for its anti-aging, skin relieving properties. Hemp’s anti-inflammatory gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is exceptionally beneficial for the brain, joints, and pretty much the entire body!
How to utilize hemp in your kitchen
Hemp seeds are mostly praised for their high protein content, especially in the vegan world, since it is one of the few non-animal complete proteins out there (that and soy of course). A complete protein means that the seed contains all of the essential amino acids. For instance, though legumes contain high levels of protein, they need to be paired with an ingredient like rice in order to make a complete protein. Hemp is an easily digestible and nutritious ingredient that can effortlessly be added to your breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes.
Breakfast ideas: You can smoothly add hemp seeds to your breakfast yogurt, oatmeal, cereal or smoothies. How about a pineapple-coconut smoothie with hemp hearts and flax oil? Hemp is so good that they even make hemp milk, which you can also readily make on your own! Add hemp milk to your three-berry antioxidant-rich smoothie or, simply sip it on its own along with your nutritious breakfast. Sure sounds like an ideal way to begin a beautiful day!
Lunch and Dinner ideas: Adding hemp to your daily routine may be easier than you may have expected. You can simply add hemp oil to your salads, and if the oil is too expensive or too nutty for you, then we’re sure you won’t regret adding a tablespoon or two of the hemp hearts to your salad or quinoa dish. If you’re feeling like cooking up a pumpkin or squash soup, sprinkle hemp hearts as your final nutritious touch!
Snack and bakery ideas: If you just can’t get enough of this protein-packed seed, you can roast the seeds and add it to your daily trail mix. No matter where you work, it’s always great to have a bag of roasted almonds, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, and maybe a little dark chocolate anyone? Additionally, you can substitute hemp oil in a baking recipe, or add hemp hearts to your healthy oat cookies! Healthy possibilities are truly endless! Eating healthy just got a little more exciting, didn’t it?