Thanks to the negative social stigma associated with Hemp’s sister, Marijuana (high THC Cannabis), Hemp is a little misunderstood.
Spoiler, Hemp is not a drug. And it certainly won’t get you high.
Hemp is an ancient, quick-growing and extremely useful plant, out of which we can make fabric, plastics, biofuel and insulation. Hemp fibre can even be used as a fire-resistant building material .
Is there anything this little plant can’t do? Seemingly not. Added to your diet, Hemp can also help to dramatically improve your health.
Innovative Hemp foods are more than vegan-friendly, they’re jam-packed with nutrients.
Understanding Hemp foods
On the 12th of November 2017, Australia amended its Food Standards Code to allow the sale of low-psychoactive (low THC) Hemp seed for food use.
As we’ve brought the terms “psychoactive” and “THC” into the mix, it’s a good time to look at the difference between Cannabis, Marijuana and Hemp.
In short, Marijuana generally contains a large amount of the psychoactive THC (the stuff that gets you high). Hemp on the other hand is always low THC. So low that you couldn’t possibly get high if you tried.
All Hemp foods are made from “industrial Hemp”. No Marijuana in sight. Now that’s all cleared up, let’s get to the good stuff – the food!
Only hulled Hemp seeds can be sold in Australia. Hulling seeds and removing their crunchy outer jackets prevents consumers from germinating the seeds and growing their own stash of Hemp plants.
Hulled Hemp seeds, or hearts, have a light nutty flavour and can be eaten raw or used as an ingredient in recipes too numerous to mention.
One of the main benefits of eating these little nuggets of Hemp is their protein content. Hemp seeds are around 25% protein which is even more than super grain quinoa.
A rise in veganism in Australia has put many of us off cow’s milk and on the hunt for more nutritious alternatives.
Hemp milk might be the answer. Products like MaMilk and Hemple insist Hemp milk is flavorful, creamy and delicious in a flat white. There’s something in these claims as both brands are on supermarket shelves and in coffee shops and juice bars across the country.
Hemp milk is made by cold-pressing Hemp hearts. The resulting liquid is then pasteurised using high-pressure pasteurisation (HPP) to extend shelf-life.
Home-made Hemp milk can last up to five days in a jar in your fridge.
And while store-bought varieties won’t last as long as your soy or almond milk options, new and innovative companies are promising to increase shelf life.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF HEMP MILK
One cup of Hemp milk contains the following :
Carbs: 1.3 grams
Protein: 4.7 grams
Fat: 7.3 grams
Calcium: 2% of the Daily Value (DV)
Iron: 7% of the DV
Hemp milk is also a good source of magnesium, zinc and vitamin B1.
It’s worth considering the huge alternative nutritional value on offer. Hemp milk has protein levels higher than what you’d find in rice or almond milk. It also contains high levels of those good fats and essential fatty acids that your body requires to generate new tissue and membrane.
Finally, Hemp milk is sustainable. Soy milk, the leading dairy alternative, is largely made from GMO plants. Hemp is not GMO and grows without depleting soil nutrients and without the use of chemicals.
Another popular way to get Hemp into your diet is with Hemp flour. To make Hemp flour, Hemp seeds are cold-pressed to extract their oil. The resulting “Hemp cake” is then milled into a fine powder, perfect for baking.
There are many reasons to get behind Hemp flour:
Hemp flour is gluten-free. Being gluten-intolerant is a huge pain, especially if you love bakeries and all that they do. If you are intolerant to wheat or other grains too, then finding a flour that doesn’t upset your stomach can be a challenge. That’s where Hemp steps in. Hemp seeds contain no gluten, are organic, and do not cause bloating and inflammation associated with gluten and wheat intolerance.
Hemp flour is full of protein. People who don’t eat meat or dairy need to pay closer attention to the amount of protein they consume and most take a supplement to stay healthy. Hemp flour is 33 per cent protein. And while Hemp flour is not recommended as a like-for-like alternative to a protein supplement, it can give your diet a huge protein boost.
Hemp flour is full of amino acids. Hemp flour contains Omega 3, Omega 6 and GLA (gamma linolenic acid). Collectively, these chemicals are amino acids and come with a whole host of health benefits. Fatty acids can reduce inflammation and improve the function of our hearts and brains.
Hemp flour is full of fibre. Fibre’s great and most of us could do with adding more of it to our diets. Fibre is not only beneficial for keeping our digestive system ticking over as it should, it also lowers our risk of developing heart disease, cancers and diabetes.
Hemp flour is full of vitamins and minerals. The most commonly-used flours are heavily processed. During processing, the majority of the lovely vitamins and minerals present in raw flour grains are lost. The production of Hemp flour is much gentler and it retains much of the Hemp seeds’ magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, thiamine and other important vitamins and minerals.
You can use Hemp flour to make all kinds of sweet and savoury baked goods like brownies and bread rolls. And while hemp flour may not rise like traditional flour, you have the option to mix it with other types of wheat-free flour, like the almond variety.
For the uninitiated, protein powder is a dietary supplement. People use protein powders alongside an exercise regime designed to help them lose weight or build and tone muscle. Usually drank in shake form, protein powders come in whey, soy and casein protein varieties.
But now there’s a new kid on the protein powder block. Hemp protein.
Hemp protein is made by cold-pressing Hemp seeds to remove the seeds’ natural oils. The resulting Hemp seed cake is then milled and sifted into a powder before going through an extra sifting stage to remove much of the fibre, leaving refined protein behind.
This is the key difference between the production of hemp protein powder and other protein powders.
We’ve written an entire article on Hemp Protein, check it out here.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF HEMP PROTEIN
Hemp protein is as pure as can be!
Plant-based and gluten-free, Hemp protein has a complete amino acid profile, which means it’s ticking all the boxes. Like the other Hemp foods we’ve looked at, Hemp protein is a good source of magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium and B Vitamins. And Hemp protein is the world’s best source of edestin protein, known for being super easy to digest.
Due to the cost of Hemp seeds, many Hemp foods are still a little pricey for the ordinary Australian. However, it’s been estimated that the Australian Hemp Industry could be worth $3million annually within the next few years .
As the industry grows and more Australian farmers are able to produce Hemp on home soil, the cost of the raw material will fall. And thanks to the availability of Hemp milk, oil, flour and protein powder, more cafes and restaurants are already integrating Hemp foods into their menus.
Full of protein, fibre and essential vitamins and minerals, Hemp won’t get you high, but it will certainly help you toward a healthier self.