Hemp is one of the most widely used and diverse crops in the world today and is used to make a wide array of products such as health foods, body care, building materials, cleaning products, clothing and other textiles. Oh, and plastics. Another benefit is it can be grown without any pesticides or herbicides at all.
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A little history
Hemp is among the oldest industries in the world. The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a bit of hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC. The 1850 U.S. census documented approximately 8,400 hemp plantations.
Both Presidents Washington and Jefferson grew hemp and Americans were legally bound to grow hemp in the Colonial era. You could even pay your taxes with hemp back then.
Henry Ford built a car from hemp and it also ran on hemp gasoline. Check out this 46 second clip
So What’s the Buzz?
Hemp seeds are technically a nut. Most of the hemp seeds you purchase are shelled already. Often referred to as hemp hearts. They are soft and have a mild nutty flavor. You can also buy hemp protein powder which is popular among athletes. And, of course, there is hemp oil.
No, eating hemp seeds will never get you high. I have been eating them for years and can verify that they do not cause any psychotropic reactions. But they do have a wide variety of health benefits and they taste good.
Although hemp and marijuana are members of the same species, Cannabis sativa, they’re in effect completely different plants. Let’s use a vegetable family as an example: Cucurbitaceae is the vining plants of the gourd family. Cucumbers, zucchini, summer and winter squash, pumpkins, melons and gourds are all members of the cucurbitaceae family but they are all different. It’s the same for Marijuana and hemp. Same family, two different things. Therefore.. The same thing goes for Hemp CBD oil.
Certain states have begun to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp in the last couple of years, therefore, the hemp seeds you find at your grocery store or online generally come from Canada or China. My personal go to is Nutiva. I have been buying my hemp seeds from them – either directly or from Amazon for about 10 or more years now. Their crops are grown in Canada. I believe their warehouse and shipping center is in California.
American Hemp farms are on the rise and there are hemp facilities springing up all over here in Montana and several other states where it’s now legal to grow it. They will be taking in the crop and converting it to oil that will be used for various products. In time this should start bringing the price down on a variety of hemp products.
Hemp Seed Nutrition
Hemp seeds contain higher quantities of essential fatty acids than any other food source. Besides that – they are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). They also have high amounts of Vitamin E along with minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
They are also a super source of protein. More than 25% of their total calories come from high quality protein. This protein tends to be easily digestible and unlikely to cause bloating or gas.
This super seed blend is my favorite for adding to many things.
Hemp seeds contain 20 different varieties of amino acids plus all nine essential amino acids, including the ones that the body cannot produce naturally. This is fantastic for our health.
In addition hemp seeds are considered more allergy-free than many other seeds or nuts. Hey, their ok for the pets too.
Hemp Seed Benefits
Just a few ailments that have been listed as benefiting from the consumption of hemp seeds are Diabetes, Heart Disease, ADHD, diabetic neuropathy, Multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, PMS, and skin allergies.
There has been research that shows how hemp seeds and hemp seed oil can be helpful in relieving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. One example was a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. They found that hemp seed oil lowered the survival rate of MH7A rheumatoid arthritis cells. Furthermore it found, at certain doses, it even promoted these cells death. (Source 1 Source 2)
Hemp seeds contain high amount of amino acids as stated earlier, but the amino acid – Arginine is especially worth pointing out because it produces nitric oxide in our bodies. Nitric oxide makes our blood vessels dilate and relax which, of course, can lead to lowered blood pressure. Thus a reduced risk of heart disease.
High levels of CRP (C-reactive protein) is an inflammation marker and linked to heart disease. One large study of over 13,000 people found an increase in Arginine intake seemed to correspond with decreased levels of CRP. (Source 1 Source 2)
Being rich in Omega fatty acids, hemp seeds are sensitive to heat and light. Thus, it’s best to store them in a cool, dry place. The fridge or freezer is the best choice. I take out some that I plan to use for a few days and store the rest in the freezer. An air tight container will help them last for about a year.
If you choose to store them in your pantry, the shelf life will be much less. Maybe just a few months. If in doubt, give them a sniff. If they smell rancid its time to toss them out.
How to Use Hemp Seeds
You can add hemp seeds to smoothies, sprinkle them on your yogurt, cereal or salad. We like to toss them in with steamed veggies (after the veggies are steamed).. The seeds will loose nutrients if cooked. Even so, people do add them to some baked or cooked recipes. Personally I like them all by themselves. I will generally eat a big tablespoon full once or twice a day.
I hope this has helped you to understand a bit more about hemp seeds. I consider them top of the list of superfoods.
Linda Carlson – Certified Nutrition & Wellness Counselor (retired) with 25+ years background.