Hemp: The New Super Seed
Hemp seeds may sounds like a hippie thing, but these days, they are more of a trendy thing. And for good reason: These tiny nutritional powerhouses are a true superfood, packing all nine essential amino acids, plus protein, fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium. “Hemp is one of those foods that can help meat eaters realize the power of plant foods,” says Martica Heaner, Ph.D., adjunct associate professor of nutrition at Hunter College in New York City. “A three-tablespoon serving has the same amount of complete protein as two eggs.”
And you don’t need to worry about getting high from eating hemp. While hemp does come from a plant that’s a close cousin to the one that produces marijuana leaves, hemp has negligible amounts of THC (the potent component of pot). You can buy just the seeds (or “hearts,” which are shelled hemp seeds) or find them in an increasing number of packaged food products. “If hemp is the first or second item on the ingredients label, you’ll know it’s a main ingredient in that food,” says Heaner. “But keep in mind that the real thing — unprocessed, whole seeds — is always better than a processed product.”
Here’s a roundup of ways to work a little hemp into your daily diet.
Sprinkle these raw shelled hemp seeds on anything — salads, smoothies, soups, oatmeal — to add a hint of nutty flavor and a bunch of extra nutrition.
Hemp milk is a delicious nondairy alternative that boasts more Omega-3s than soy, rice or almond milk.
Trade in your traditional energy bar for one that’s cold-pressed from raw fruits, nuts and seeds (including hemp, of course).
Even dessert can come with a dose of nutrients when you nibble on these gluten-free mini cookies that are baked with a variety of super seeds, including chia, flax and hemp.
These ready-to-eat pouches of cooked apple slices are mixed with banana, mango and hemp seeds for extra flavor and nutritional punch.
If you’re looking for a soy-free tofu alternative, this is the ticket.
Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.