First I feel the need to address a MAJOR misconception. Although HEMP is related to marijuana, the hemp plant does not produce enough of the chemical that people need to experience a high when the plant’s leaves are smoked. The NAIHC reports that hemp contains less than 1 percent THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, while marijuana contains anywhere from 5 to 20 percent THC.
Industrial hemp is legal to grow in more than 30 countries. The United States is one of the few industrialized nations that do not currently allow the cultivation of hemp. However, recently Vote Hemp, the nation’s leading grassroots hemp advocacy organization working to revitalize industrial hemp production in the U.S., reported that a new Farm Bill contains an amendment to legalize hemp production for research purposes.
“With the U.S. hemp industry estimated at over $500 million in annual retail sales and growing, a change in federal law to allow colleges and universities to grow hemp for research means that we will finally begin to regain the knowledge that unfortunately has been lost over the past fifty years,” says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra.
Hemp as a protein source is compositionally similar to the protein the body manufactures. Composed of albumin and edestine, this protein digests easily, unlike animal protein or the protein in soy. According to environmental scientist and hemp consultant Gero Leson, hemp seeds protein contains all the essential amino acids your body needs, in amounts that are closer to dairy and meat products than any other seed except soy. Hemp seeds contain all 9 essential amino acids. And did you know 3 Tablespoons of Hemp Seeds = 11 grams of protein?
The oil of the hemp seed includes a healthy dose of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids at a healthy anti-inflammatory 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fat. Hemp seeds are also abundant in two relatively rare polyunsaturated fatty acids called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid.
GLA is a direct building block of good anti-inflammatory hormones. Unfortunately, this special omega-6 fat is not typically found in foods. Here’s a short run down of the health benefits of GLA:
-GLA supports a healthy metabolism and facilitates fat burning (some people who struggle with weight loss despite eating a healthy diet get a weight loss boost simply by adding GLA to their diets.)
-GLA can help reduce hormone-mediated symptoms such as PMS and hot flashes.
-GLA supports healthy hair, nail and skin health.
-GLA decreases the tendency of inflammation in general. This can be helpful to anyone with an inflammatory condition such as asthma, MS, fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc.
-GLA helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and improve cholesterol ratio.
Hemp seeds are also rich in disease-fighting, plant-based phytonutrients and anti-aging antioxidants such as vitamin E, zinc, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and iron.
It is important to note that when exposed to high temperatures, the polyunsaturated fatty acids in hemp seeds and hemp seed oil can turn into peroxide. Leson reports that hemp seeds and oil should only be used in recipes that keep the food’s temperature below boiling—this rules out frying with hemp oil. If you want to use the oil to sauté, Leson suggests using low heat and keeping enough moisture in the bottom of the pan to prevent any “off-flavors” from forming.