Hemp is quite an amazing plant, used not only for food but also to make things like paper, clothing and textiles, biofuel, beauty products and certain recreational products that may or may not be legal, depending on where you live.
Not all hemp is drugs, though. Hemp that is grown for seed and fiber comes from a different kind of plant than the one that is used to grow marijuana. The hemp we eat still contains very small quantities of THC (less than 0.3% compared to upwards of 20% for drug-producing plants). We would have to eat immense quantities of hemp to feel even the slightest effect of this.
Hemp is a very environmentally friendly, since it grows very fast and does not require pesticides. It was one of the first plants to be domesticated by humans and contains strong fibers that make it ideal for textile production. Hemp does not contain gluten and is therefore a good choice for sensitive people since there are no known hemp allergies.
Hemp seeds are the richest known source of polyunsaturated fats and have a balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids (a ratio of about 1:3) that is optimal for humans. Most of us consume too much Omega-6 and too little Omega-3, which causes an imbalance that can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, arthritis and diabetes. If you eat a lot of processed food and junk food, chances are that you are already getting too much Omega-6, and it would be advisable to stay away from hemp oil (though hemp seeds are still OK). Omega fatty acids are essential, which means that we can only obtain them through food. A proper balance is important for heart function, healthy hair, skin and joints and heart function.
Hemp seeds are full of vitamins, minerals and enzymes and contains all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential ones that the body can not produce by itself. Hemp is great for vegetarians who need to add more protein to their diet, and, unlike flax seeds (another great vegetarian source of protein) hemp seeds are more easily digested and do not need to be crushed before eating. Just like flax seeds, hemp seeds contain 33% protein, the difference is that 65% of this comes from an important protein called globulin edistin and is otherwise found mainly in the blood plasma of animals. Globulin edistin is a simple protein that our bodies need to build the immunoglobulins necessary to fight infections. The only way to ensure your body has enough amino acid materials to build these globulins is to eat foods high in globulin proteins. So, if you don’t eat meat, hemp should be an important part of your diet.
The recommended daily dose of hemp seeds is 3-5 tablespoons, while hemp oil is 1-2 tablespoons. Consuming more isn’t dangerous, but not recommended in the long run. Hemp oil should be stored in a dark glass container (if it’s a good kind it should also be sold like that), while hemp seeds and hemp protein should be stored in opaque containers. After opening, all hemp products should be stored in the refrigerator and be consumed within 8-12 weeks. Hemp oil is not recommended for cooking since it does not stand up well to heat. Use it for salads and smoothies and cook with coconut oil instead.
Try mixing hemp seeds, hemp protein and/or hemp oil into your morning smoothie. Sprinkle hemp seeds on salads for lunch. Or, try and make your own hemp milk (using the same methods you would to make oat- or nutmilk). If you don’t like the taste of hemp (let’s just say many consider is acquired), the best thing would probably be to “hide” it in your smoothies.