My passion for hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds) started 12 years ago when a friend shared his astonishing weight loss transformation with me. He lost more than 120 pounds by eating a diet high in hemp. From his success story, I was motivated to see how hemp could help my nutrition clients meet their health goals. One taste of these little green gems, and I was hooked. There are many seeds that boast superfood status but few taste this fantastic!
Hemp seeds are nutty and sweet like pine nuts but offer a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Flax and chia seeds share the omega-3 benefits, but when they get wet, their mucilage fibre gets slippery and sticky. Hemp's crunchy yet creamy texture makes it the most versatile vegan omega-3 source. Try it in soup instead of dairy to add creaminess. Its high protein content makes it a perfect addition to meal replacement bars, cereal, porridge, salads, pesto, pasta, dressings, sauces, smoothies, desserts and side dishes.
More from Chatelaine
- Raspberry ketones: Are they really a weight-loss miracle in a bottle?
- Gazpacho: Cool off with this homemade and vitamin-packed recipe
- The health benefits of fermented foods
- Nine tips to help you snack healthier
- Seven health benefits of salmon and a vitamin-rich summer recipe
Why you should heart hemp
Hemp seeds contain both essential fatty acids necessary for muscle and joint repair. They also have all the essential amino acids in an easily digestible form. Two tablespoons (30 g) of hemp hearts contain seven grams of protein — equivalent to the same amount found in a large boiled egg.
What's more, 65 percent of the total protein content of hemp seed comes from an easily digestible protein called edestin, which is readily absorbed and utilized by the human body. Edestin has the unique ability to encourage the creation of antibodies, which fight against foreign invaders and boost our immune system. It is also hypoallergenic, meaning it has a low allergy potential, making it a great replacement for soy and peanuts (provided it is processed in a factory free of tree nuts.)
Here are five more reasons to fall in love with hemp hearts:
1. Fight inflammation
Hemp seeds contain an especially beneficial type of omega-6 fat called GLA that works in the body as an anti-inflammatory massager. GLA can decrease inflammation, helping people suffering from asthma, arthritis and muscle pain. GLA also supports healthy hair, nail and skin health.
2. Improve heart health
Hemp hearts sure live up to their name! The fatty acids in hemp help lower bad LDL cholesterol and improve cholesterol ratio. They are rich in phytonutrients and anti-aging antioxidants such as vitamin E that protect the cardiovascular system from damage.
3. Reduce muscle cramps
Hemp hearts are a rich source of magnesium, which has been shown to reduce headaches and muscle cramps as the mineral is involved in proper muscle relaxation. Athletes are prone to magnesium loss from sweating, so adding hemp seeds to shakes can prevent post workout cramps. Hemp also provides substantial amounts of zinc, calcium, manganese and iron. These minerals are important for repair of tissues and maintenance of the immune system.
4. Balance hormones
Many women use hemp hearts to help with hormonal imbalances that cause menopausal symptoms including hot flashes and depression. It is also helpful for PMS symptoms due to its GLA and magnesium content. Hemp hearts blended with blueberries makes a great breakfast smoothie.
5. Improve immunity
Hemp hearts are high in alpha linolenic acid, a type of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fat that can improve immune function. The other nutrients in hemp help ensure the fat is used effectively in the body. They also contain powerful immune modulators capable of reducing allergies, a cause of inflammation.
Bust the blues hemp salad
If you want a true stress busting salad this combo will do the trick. The sprouts provide great B vitamins that nourish your nervous system. The red pepper provides exceptional vitamin C that is important for adrenal health. Blueberries have been shown in clinical trials to reduce the stress hormone cortisol. The nutty flavour of the hemp hearts pair nicely with blueberries and the mood-boosting fat in hemp make this a truly happy salad!
4 cups sunflower and pea sprouts
½ cup red pepper, sliced
2/3 cup blueberries
1 cup snow peas
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp pesto or lemon juice
1 tsp honey
Pink salt, to taste
¼ cup hemp hearts (shelled hemp seed)
1. Combine sprouts, pepper, berries and snow peas into a large bowl.
2. Combine oil, pesto, honey and salt into a small mason jar and shake vigorously until well mixed.
3. Pour over salad and top with hemp seeds.
Yield: Makes 2 large salads
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. She is the author of Meals That Heal Inflammation.
Connect with Chatelaine: