Nutrition Articles

7 Healthy Hemp Foods to Try

Hemp is the New Flax

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I have a wallet made of hemp. Although I’ve seen some very fashionable hemp accessories, mine’s really old and not very cute, but I can’t justify buying a new one until it wears out. I guess I’ve learned firsthand that hemp fiber is strong, durable, and long-lasting. But I learned something new about hemp recently. It’s edible, too. No, I can’t eat my wallet, although maybe I could talk my dog into munching on it…

Hemp use dates back to the Stone Age. Imprints of hemp fibers have been found in 10,000-year-old pottery shards in Asia. Clothing, shoes, ropes, paper, and, probably, wallets, were all made from these fibers. Later, in medieval Germany and Italy, hemp was a common ingredient in recipes like pies and soups.

What about THC?
Today, hemp is cultivated in almost every part of the world and used in the production of a variety of products, including paper, fabric, food, fuel, and even plastic. Due to legislation intended to prevent the cultivation of cannabis, a subspecies of hemp that contains large amounts (20%-30%) of the psychoactive substance THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), it is illegal to grow hemp in most parts of the United States. But the type of hemp cultivated for consumer products and food contains such a miniscule amount of THC (0.3%) that it produces no intoxicating effect, even in significant quantities. It is legal, however, to import products made from these plants into the U.S.

Besides having an abundance of uses, hemp is also easy on the eco-system. It requires little to no pesticides while cotton, for example, is one of the most heavily-sprayed crops in the world. Hemp also replenishes the soil with nutrients, controls erosion, and produces oxygen. Just as growing hemp is a boon to the environment, eating it is a boon to your health.

Although the leaves of the hemp plant can be eaten, the part of the plant best known for nutritional value is the seeds. These small seeds are highly nutritious, containing essential fatty acids, amino acids, and minerals. About a third of the weight of the seed is made up of oil, and most of that oil is the healthy variety: ALA (alpha-linoleic acid, a type of Omega-3 fat) and linoleic acid. These essential fatty acids (EFA's for short) can benefit your health in many ways. Hemp seeds also contain complete, high-quality protein and all eight essential amino acids.

Because of U.S. regulations, you won’t be able to grow your own hemp plants or buy them at your local farmers market, but you can still reap the benefits of this amazing plant thanks to a growing number of food products at your local grocery store and online. Hempseed and its oil have a unique, nutty flavor, similar to flaxseed.

A continually expanding variety of other hemp food products, like granola, snack bars, protein powders, waffles, and even hemp milk, hemp tofu, and hemp butter are available these days, usually at natural foods stores and online retailers. Keep in mind that the least processed products will be the most affordable, so if you're itching to add the healthfulness of hemp to your diet, try plain hemp seeds and create your own recipes. Here are just a few examples of what you'll find at the grocery these days.

Hempseeds can be eaten raw, added to smoothies, cereals and other recipes, and used in baked goods like muffins, breads and granola bars. You can find shelled/hulled hempseeds in the bulk foods section of natural foods stores, online, and sometimes packaged in the baking aisle of the supermarket. Because they contain primarily unsaturated fat, hemp seeds should be stored away from light and heat, preferably in the refrigerator.

Hemp Oil is used mainly as a supplement and has a fairly strong nutty flavor. It's nutritionally superior to both olive and flaxseed oils and can be used in salad dressings, smoothies and other recipes but shouldn't be heated or cooked. You'll find it in opaque bottles, in the section of refrigerated supplements in natural foods stores. When buying, look for an organic, cold-pressed and raw variety, such as Nutiva's Organic Cold-Pressed Hemp Oil, and always store hemp oil in dark-colored bottles in the refrigerator to maintain its chemical stability and freshness.

Hemp Milk is a dairy-free alternative to milk that is widely available in natural food stores, and comes in original (plain), vanilla, and chocolate flavors. You'll find it on the grocery shelf with other shelf-stable milk alternatives (like soy milk, rice milk, etc.).Although all flavors are nutty and delicious from a cup, in recipes, and on cereal, Living Harvest's Chocolate Hemp Milk tastes especially smooth and decadent, and is soy, dairy and gluten free.

Hemp Granola is a tasty and nutritious breakfast. Nature's Path Hemp Plus Granola has a nutty flavor, crunchy texture and a boost of nutrition, thanks to the hemp: omega-3's, omega-6's, fiber, and protein. The same brand also makes tasty hemp-enhanced instant oatmeal, granola bars and more. You'll find such products in the breakfast aisle of your natural foods store.

Hemp Protein Powder can make a quick, high-protein meal on the go. Just add it a scoop to your favorite smoothie combination, or mix it into juice, milk, yogurt or other liquids. You'll find hemp protein powder in the protein supplement section of natural foods stores. Unlike the whole hempseeds and oils, the protein has been isolated, so these powders are fat-free. Try Nutiva’s Organic Hemp Protein Powder, to which no flavors or sweeteners have been added. Just two scoops add 11 grams of high-quality protein and 3 grams of fiber for 120 calories. Also try Nutiva's Hemp Shake mixes, which boast flavors like Berry Pomegranate and Chocolate.

Hemp Seed Butter can be used like peanut butter. Spread it on crackers or bread; use it as a dip for apple slices; or replace it for any nut butter a recipe might call for. It's a rich source of healthy fatty acids and protein, too. Manitoba Harvest's Hemp Seed Nut Butter is a great choice. Like natural peanut butter, which has no additives, you should stir it to mix the oils and store it in the refrigerator to prolong shelf life and prevent oil separation.

Hemp Nuts are a deliciously crunchy snack when eaten plain but can also be added to your favorite trail mix, cereals or salads. Living Harvest's Organic Hemp Nuts come conveniently packaged, but you might also find Hemp Nuts in the bulk foods or natural snacks section of the grocery.

The hemp food products above were researched and written about by Nicole Nichols, SparkPeople Resident Expert and Health Educator. This article has been reviewed and approved by Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian

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Member Comments

  • MS_GODDESS
    Just finished my afternoon snack - oatmeal with Hemp Hearts and a little honey. Yum! Received a sample in my Bulubox and had to get a full-sized bag. Love them!!!
  • I add hemp seeds to my smoothies but am going to start using the oil as well. I don't get a lot of fat in my diet so this will be a great addition.
  • LOL at the necessary boxed off THC warning.
  • MECONFUSEU

    Hemp oil is very essential for us.Now its benefits are miracle..Use Cbd Hemp oil for cancer, anxiety.
    _______________
    Regards
    Web: http://www.painfr
    eehempoil.com/
  • AMBER_MCG
    This article is great - I love the all the information about nutrition, Iíve never hearda lot of that before! This reminds me of a cool business in my hometown who is innovating with nutrition and food: Smiling Hara Tempeh. Have you heard about them? Hereís their website if you want to learn more: www.smilingharate
    mpeh.com
  • AMY2MORGAN
    My journey with breast cancer started in November 2004. I was devastated, scared and numb when I found out I had cancer. At the time, I was 48 and thought that I was healthy.
    I immediately started researching doctors and treatments. I found a surgeon near my home outside of Savannah, Georgia to remove the tumor. After the surgery, I consulted with a local oncologist and radiologist. The doctors were so impersonal. They didn't want to listen to a word I was saying. They wanted to put me in one of those cookie-cutter scenarios. There were no other options for me. They just wanted to cut, radiate and do the chemo. I felt with the way they were conducting business, I had to get a second opinion. so we decided to try Rick Simpson hemp oil. we contacted Rick via: ricksimpsoncancer
    foundation@gm
    ail.com, i used the oil for a month and there was great changes
  • After further research I found out eating a lot of hemp seeds can cause a false positive on a drug test. If you are looking for a new job, almost every employer drug tests new hires.
  • I didn't see it mentioned but Hemp seed Hearts are awesome. I eat them like sunflower seeds but they are expensive. Hence they must be imported to the US. RE-Legalize it. Save the planet and protect your Health. Thats HEMP

    Kannaway is a hemp lifestyle company with a focus on nutritional wellness whose products contain CBD rich hemp oil. http://CountdownT
    oKannaway.com
    /CPvideo/5140389
  • Interesting to me that it can't be grown here where we could easily regulate it, but it can be imported from other countries....whic
    h, as we have learned the hard way, don't always regulate their products the way that we would.
  • Interesting to me that it can't be grown here where we could easily regulate it, but it can be imported from other countries....whic
    h, as we have learned the hard way, don't always regulate their products the way that we would.
  • ROSCOEKR
    There is new legislation in Kentucky to make it legal in the US to grow. http://www.inquis
    itr.com/52803
    9/hemp-bill-p
    asses-kentucky-senate/
  • All the hemp products are very new to me (this article and comments) thanks for the enlightenment....
    plan to try soon
  • Nutiva is my favorite brand :-)! I buy the seeds and the protein powder.
  • Thanks for all the tips and suggstions. I put this on the shopping list... Favorite brands anyone?
  • Tried hemp seed not bad tasting but I wasn't keen on the idea as I am VERY anti drug. Yes I know there "is" a difference. Of all the things you supposedly can get made of hemp I wish I could find JEANS the cotton ones we get in Canada NOW are CRAP made mostly overseas (AND TO THINK LESS THAN 10 YEARS AGO WE HAD GWG (LEVI STRAUSS) IN EDMONTON!!! making jeans).

About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

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