Hemp is a plant grown in the northern hemisphere that takes about 3-4 months to mature. Hemp seeds can be consumed or used to produce a variety of food products including hemp milk, hemp oil, hemp cheese substitutes and hemp-based protein powder. Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor. Hemp milk is made from hulled hemp seeds, water, and sweetener. Hemp oil has a strong "grassy" flavor
Hemp is commonly confused with marijuana. It belongs to the same family, but the two plants are very different. Marijuana is grown to contain high amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that is responsible for its psychoactive properties. Hemp describes the edible plant seeds and only contains a trace amount of THC.
Nutritional breakdown of hemp
Hemp is available in a variety of forms, including oils and powders.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a two tablespoon serving of hemp seeds weighing 20 grams contains: (1) 111 calories, (2) 6.31 g of protein, (3) 9.75 g of fat, (4) 1.73 g of carbohydrates (including 0.8 g of fiber and 0.3 g of sugar), (5) 14 milligrams (mg) of calcium, (6) 1.59 mg of iron, 140 mg of magnesium, (7) 330 mg of phosphorus, (8) 240 mg of potassium, (9) 1.98 mg of zinc, and (10) 22 micrograms (mcg) of folate. Hemp seeds also provide vitamin C, some B vitamins, and vitamins A and E.
Possible health benefits of consuming hemp
The nutritional content of hemp is linked to a number of potential health benefits.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming two 3.5-ounce servings of fish, especially oily fish, each week. This is because fish is a major source of omega-3 fatty acids. If a person does not regularly consume fish, they may not be getting enough DHA or EPA.
Hemp is a plant-based source of concentrated omega-3 fatty acids.
However, the fatty acids that hemp contains are alpha-linolenic acids (ALA), which are poorly converted to DHA and EPA in the body at a rate of only about 2 to 10 percent. Despite this inefficient conversion rate, hemp is one of the richest sources of ALA, and so still represents a very good source of healthy fat, particularly for those who do not consume fish or eggs.
Hemp contains a specific omega-6 fatty acid called GLA and hemp oil contains an even higher percentage of GLA.
Hemp seeds also contain phytosterols, which help in reducing the amount of cholesterol in the body by removing fat build-up in the arteries.
Hemp contains all 10 essential amino acids, making it a good plant-based protein source. Hemp does not contain phytates, which are found in many vegetarian protein sources and can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals.
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