[* You can purchase raw hulled hemp seeds from health food stores for immediate use].
Many people associate hemp with its botanical cousin the marijuana plant. Hemp does not have significant levels of THC to be psychoactive, however, and is primarily used for making textiles and paper. The seeds of this plant are an incredibly nutritious food and protein source.
They are 33 per cent pure digestible protein with 20 amino acids (including all the essentials), contain omega-3 and –6 oils in ideal ratios, vitamins E, C, D and B vitamins, fibre, and an astonishing array of minerals including iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, sulfur, calcium, zinc and silicon. Hemp seeds also house enzymes and phytonutrients such as carotenoids, flavonoids and phytoeostrogens.
Hemp was cultivated over 6,000 years ago in China, originating from a wild plant in central Asia. Arriving in Europe around 1,000 years ago the plant has been used for various purposes, including paper, canvas, cloth and hemp butter made from the crushed seeds. Its has documented use throughout history in civilisations across the world, including India, Sumeria, Persia, Egypt, and Aztec and Mayan cultures.
The seeds of the hemp plant have a pleasant flavour and can be made into a milk or incorporated whole or ground into numerous dishes. Sprinkle them on salads, whiz them into dips, incorporate them in veggie burgers or make creamy hemp milk by blending them with water.
Prime Protein Source
By weight hemp seeds are one of the most concentrated sources of protein on the planet after algaes such as spirulina and chlorella. What’s more, around 65 per cent of this protein is of the valuable globulin kind, more than is found in any other plant source. Globulin proteins make up enzymes, antibodies, haemoglobin and many hormones. By providing the body with the material to produce its antibodies, hemp seeds are a potential aid for immune deficiency diseases.
Two of the amino acids in hemp seeds are the sulfur-containing methionine and cystine, normally found in low quantities in vegetable proteins, which can help to build strong and healthy hair, nails, muscle tissue and skin. This makes hemp seeds a valuable additions in vegetarian and vegan diets.
Hemp seeds are made up of 35 per cent oil. This oil is rich in essential fatty acids (80 per cent of the oil), with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 oils matching that required by the body. Essential fatty acids are involved in numerous biological functions and are particularly supportive to the immune system as well as the heart, liver, skin, brain, digestive and reproductive systems, and utilised for cell growth, hormone balance and fat metabolism. With such a breadth of activity it is not surprising deficiencies in EFA’s can lead to a myriad of health problems including high cholesterol and heart disease, arthritis, eczema, Chron’s disease, PMS and depression.
Flax seeds (or linseeds) are unique in that they provide an exceptionally high concentration of omega 3 oils; the richest plant source for such. Omega-3’s are also found in cold-water fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel and other plant sources such as walnuts, pumpkin seeds, mustard seeds, green-leafed vegetables and spirulina.
Omega-3 oils work as antioxidants, are good for the heart and immune system, aid the burning of fats and help to build healthy, beautiful skin. Hemp seeds house a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 oils. They also contain 3 times more vitamin E than flax seeds and are a superior source of protein and minerals.
Hemp seeds are also rich in gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a type of omega-6 fatty acid that is anti-inflammatory and aids hormonal regulation. Hormone imbalance can lead to irregular blood sugar levels, weight gain, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, menstruation problems and menopausal symptoms. GLA has also been found to provide effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Together with vitamin D, also found in hemp seeds, protection can be offered against osteoporosis. The high quality source of protein in hemp also promotes muscle growth and physical strength that can support the skeletal system.
Hemp seed oil is available to purchase in most health food stores. It should be purchased in a dark container and kept refrigerated to preserve the delicate EFAs. For quality choose an organic hemp oil made from non-sterilised seeds, cold-pressed (i.e. not heated) and not chemically extracted (i.e. no hexane).
Hemp seeds contain a huge list of minerals and trace minerals. As well as more standard minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, calcium and phosphorous, hemp seeds also contain sulphur, zinc, silicon, copper, selenium, and silver.
Lecithin for Fat-Metabolism
Hemp seeds contain a significant amount of lecithin, a type of liquid that is found in the protective sheaths that surround the brain and nervous system. Lecithin helps to breakdown fats and enhances liver activity and enzyme production. Choline is produced from lecithin and is needed for nerve signals from the brain throughout the nervous system, as well as liver and gall bladder function. Its derivative acetylcholine, lacking in Alzheimer patients, is crucial for short-term memory.
One great way to attain the nutritional benefits of this seed is to make hemp milk by blending the seeds with water – a creamy protein shake that you can add other superfoods to, such as raw cacao and virgin coconut oil, with a natural sweetener such as honey, vanilla, maple syrup or banana to taste. Blend hulled hemp seeds with 3 or 4 times the amount of water (i.e. a quarter to a third of a cup of hulled hemp seeds to 1 cup of water) and add delicious extras as desired.
Seeds Glorious Seeds
All seeds are potent, life-giving storehouses packed with goodness. Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds… each with their own strengths and benefits. Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are both high in the amino acid tryptophan and zinc and sesame seeds are also a premier source of calcium. Sunflower seeds are particularly high in vitamin E, and flax seeds, as discussed, provide the highest amount of plant-derived omega-3 oils.
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