Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Delicious, Nutritious and Super Versatile: Why You Should be Eating Hemp Seeds

Forget breadcrumbs! Haven't you heard that menu items like hemp-crusted fish are all the rage these days? And what about sprinkling some hemp seeds on your parfait or oatmeal instead of flax or chia seeds once in a while? The possibilities for using hemp seeds are endless. Not only are they a refreshing change from the classic, foods made with hemp seeds get super-charged when it comes to nutrition and flavour.

Despite coming from the same plant as THC-containing Marijuiana, hemp seeds are THC-free. Although they've been on the market for a while in various forms including protein powders, granola bars and cereals, hemp seeds are quickly gaining popularity among health-conscious crowds, foodies and regular folks alike, and for good reason. Even Dr. Mehmet Oz had excellent things to say about hemp seeds on his show.

Not only are they high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fibre, they're also a plentiful source of GLA, or Gamma Linolenic Acid, which is another potent anti-inflammatory compound that is rarely consumed in the Western diet. GLA is also touted as a remedy for autoimmune disorders, arthritis, eczema, and PMS. The best sources of GLA are plant oils like evening primrose, borage and hemp oil as well as spirulina and whole hemp seeds.

Although other seeds like flax, in addition to their oils, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, hemp oil has been called "nature's perfectly balanced oil" thanks to it's 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Among it's relatives in the plant oil department, hemp seed oil stands out because it contains all 3 of 0mega-6, omega-3 and GLA. Containing roughly 80% polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is one of the best plant sources of PUFAs available.

Hemp seeds are also special and unique because they are high in easily digestible protein and contain all of the essential amino acids required for optimal health. With their distinctive pumpkin seed-like taste, hemp seeds and the protein that is made from them are an excellent addition to oatmeal, baked goods or savoury dishes like meats and fish.

If you haven't given them a try just yet, don't fret - they will surely be hard to miss in your local grocery store or favourite restaurant in the not too distant future!