The substance of the advice may change, with new truths crowding out or even contradicting earlier truths (after years of dutifully popping echinacea during flu season, my mother, one day, informed me that it was “useless”), but her belief in the value of the wisdom to change your life, will never diminish.
“Hemp Seeds. ” she said. “You should get them. They’re like flax seeds, but better.”
All right then. And off I trundled to explore the lesser known world of hemp.
Protein: This is where she very correct. They have about double the protein of flax seeds. You’ll get 5g in one tablespoon of hemp seeds. Interestingly, they also have 50% more protein than almonds.
Fat: Hemp is full of exceptionally good fat in the form of essential fatty acids as well as Vitamin E. There are 5g in a tablespoon, about the same as what you’d get in an egg and about the same as flax (from a weight standpoint).
Omegas: Hemp has a lower Omega 3:Omega 6 ratio (about 1 : 2.5), flax has the reverse ratio (3:1 Omega 3:Omega6). Generally we are deficient in Omega 3 so flax offers more of the 3’s but the ratio of 3 to 6 in hemp is still in good balance as our bodies do require more 6’s than 3’s overall. (Both hemp and flax provide the LNA type of Omega 3 which must be converted to the EPA and DHA found in its pure form in fish oil.) Click here for a fuller explanation of Omegas.
Taste: More like sunflower seeds. They are softer in the mouth than flax seeds, as well as milder and nuttier tasting.
Versatility: Use them as you would flax seeds. I dump a heaping tablespoon into yogurt and sprinkle them on top of vegetables. (You can also buy the oil.)
If you buy the seeds whole, you don’t need to worry about grinding them as they do not have a hull. (Whole flax seeds, in comparison, have a hard hull and without grinding them, will pass through you largely undigested). It’s actually illegal in the US to sell whole hemp seeds with their hull intact because of (misguided) governmental concerns that a hemp seed could be planted to grow marijuana (as well various interests groups that do not want to see a rise of the industrial hemp industry in the US.). Hemp and marijuana are legally the same plant, but only one will get you high. Hemp seeds will grow hemp type cannabis plants and marijuana seeds will grow marijuana type cannabis plants – that’s it*.
So bottom line: Hemp’s got a ton going for it – a superb protein source as well as an Omega superpower. I keep a bag in the fridge and use it daily. And will likely continue to do so until my mother tells me it’s useless.
Have you tried hemp seeds?
Is The Chia Craze Inflated? (All about chia seeds)
Fish Oil vs Flax Oil: Omegas Demystified
Last Time You Had This Nutrient Was In Breast Milk (Another nutritional super power: coconuts)
*The big difference is the level of THC in the plant, ie. the component of the cannabis plant that makes you high. Hemp has about 0.3%, marijuana has between 3%-15%.
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