Technically a nut, hemp seeds are often referred to as “hemp hearts”, and are very nutritious. They contain over 30% fat, and are exceptionally rich in two essential polyunsaturated fatty acids; gamma-linoleic acid (an omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3).
They are also a great source of protein, with more than 25% of their total calories coming from high-quality protein. This puts similar foods like chia seeds and flax seeds to shame, as only about 17% of their calories come from protein.
Additionally, hemp seeds are considered a complete protein source, which means that they provide all ten of the essential amino acids in balanced ratios. This is very rare in the plant kingdom, as plants often lack the amino acid lysine. Amino acids are essential to human life, but are not produced in the body, meaning they must be acquired through diet. Hemp seeds also do not contain the phytates that are often found in vegetarian protein sources that can interfere in the absorption of minerals.
Hemp seeds also offer a great source of fiber, containing about 6g per 20g serving, and we all know fiber is essential to colorectal and cardiovascular health. The same size serving of hemp seeds also contains around 140mg of magnesium- which plays an important role in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body- 14mg of calcium, which is good for bone mass, and just under 2mg of iron, which keeps your red blood cells producing hemoglobin and transporting oxygen.
But the list of nutrients and benefits of hemp seeds goes on and on. A 20g serving of hemp seeds contains 330mg of phosphorus, for which the body has numerous uses, including bone and teeth growth and the repair of cells and tissues. It also contains 240mg of potassium, which is one of the most important minerals in the body. It helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions and nerve signals, and may help reduce blood pressure and water retention, protect against stroke, and help prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones.
Additionally, hemp seeds contain vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, sulphur, which is good for building and repairing our DNA and protecting our cells against damage, zinc, which is hugely important to our immune system, folate, which is needed for cell division, and on and on… but the vast quantity of nutrients isn’t the only reason hemp is considered a “Superfood”.
The list of ways you can use hemp in food preparation is almost as lengthy as its list of nutritional benefits. Hemp has been used for millennia in the creation of oils, butter, milk, tea, and even beer. The uses for each of these, from salad dressings to cheese making are way too many to try to list here, but its myriad uses is just another reason why hemp is suddenly being seen as the new Superfood, adding to it’s already impressive 25,000 uses.