Now Reading
Seeds With Heart



— May 29, 2018

Seeds With Heart

  • Call them hemp seeds or hemp hearts—they're healthy either way.
hemp seeds and spoon

Call them hemp seeds or hemp hearts—they’re healthy either way.

Whether you’re following the keto diet, the Paleo diet or most any other diet out there, seeds are high on the list of must-haves. And when it comes to health-promoting seeds, hemp doesn’t take a back seat to any of them. Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, contain awesome amounts of complete protein (containing all the essential amino acids), healthy fats, fiber and minerals, all in a nut-flavored package. And because hemp is an eco-friendly crop, munching on hemp seeds is as good for the environment as it is for you.

Sustainable Well-Being

Hemp is a farmer’s dream: Ridiculously easy to grow, it smothers weeds and matures quickly. It even improves soil health, meaning that farmers can plant another food crop right after a hemp harvest without having to let the land rest beforehand. Hemp is versatile, too. Besides such traditional usages as cloth and paper, hemp has shown promise as a bio-fuel, building material and feedstock for plastics. Hemp is also the source of healthful compounds known as phytocannabinoids, which have been found to help ease pain and promote sleep. In terms of promoting health, hemp seeds are as useful as the plant itself. The fiber content not only encourages healthy digestion but helps keep blood sugar under control, a key factor in eating plans such as the keto diet. Hemp seeds’ high magnesium content gives them a calming effect, while their fatty acids support healthy hormonal balance and cardiovascular well-being.

The Name Game

If you’ve wondered if hemp is related to cannabis, you’re right: Both are types of Cannabis sativa. However, hemp contains negligible levels of THC, the psychoactive component that some cannabis varieties are known for.

Hemping Your Kitchen

Hemp seeds make a great snack eaten right out of the bag; dry-toasting them over very low heat accentuates their flavor. You can also put hemp seeds to other uses: > Sprinkle them on top of unsweetened Greek yogurt, eggs, wholegrain cereal or salads (they beat premade croutons). > You can also top yogurt with homemade granola that incorporates hemp seeds and other healthy ingredients such as steel-cut oats, dried fruit and chopped or sliced nuts; this lets you avoid the added sugars common in commercial granolas. > Use them as a substitute for breadcrumbs when coating fish or chicken, especially if you are sensitive to gluten. > Add to smoothies; the seeds’ flavor goes well with bananas. In fact, you can even peel a banana, roll it in nut butter and roll it again in hemp seeds for a great post-workout snack. >When making pesto, swap out the pine nuts for hemp seeds; this sauce makes a flavorful topping for chicken or grilled veggies in addition to its traditional use on top of pasta. You can also make your own hemp milk. Just put a cup of raw shelled seeds, three cups of water and a pinch of sea salt in a blender and blend at high speed for up to 60 seconds. If using your milk in recipes, it’s a good idea to strain it first for a smoother product. Like the seeds themselves, hemp seed oil has become popular. Look for an oil that’s raw, cold-pressed and certified organic; the color is generally a deep, rich green. The flavor has been described as “nutty” or “earthy,” making it a good pairing for bolder-tasting, more savory foods instead of lighter, sweeter fare. Always store hemp seed oil in the fridge, as its high omega content leaves it prone to spoilage if left at room temperature for more than a few days. For that reason, never heat hemp seed oil. Instead, use it in salad dressings, as a bread dip or in foods such as homemade hummus.

G L A:  T H E  G O O D  OMEGA-6

There are two types of omega fats, omega-3s (which hemp seed contains) and omega-6s (which hemp seed also contains). In most people’s diets, the ratio of 6s to 3s is seriously out of whack, leading to excessive inflammation. But the omega-6 found in hemp, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), is an exception to the rule. GLA actually fights inflammation; some women have found that GLA helps reduce such annoying premenstrual symptoms as bloating and breast tenderness.

© Copyright 2020 Discover Life Magazine. All rights reserved.