So here I am sitting in a consultation with a patient chatting away regarding nutrition and nutritional deficiencies when I notice he is giving me a strangest look. Now this is not the first time this has happened and I knew right away what was on his mind. So I asked him, “you are wondering why I smell like pot, right?” He nervously laughed and replied with a solid yes. Being holistically minded does not mean I am a pot smoker, it does however mean I like hemp seeds (also known as hemp hearts) and when I decide to snack on them mid afternoon, by the handful I might add, my breath gives off the distinct aroma of weed. I’ve never been a pot smoker, just not my style, but the nutrition bang you get from snacking on the seeds just can’t be beat. So I often find myself explaining this to whoever is in my office at the time. I really must remember not to snack during my clinical hours.
Why do I love hemp seeds so much? Because they are PACKED with healthy fats, protein and many of the minerals our body requires for optimal health. They are so delicious and incredibly nutritious that they should be in everyones fridge (no not the pantry).
Let’s look at the breakdown.
Hemp seeds contain more than 30% fat (the good kind). They are rich in two of the essential acids, linoleic acid which is Omega 6 and alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3). They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties which has some pretty good heart health benefits. Not to mention high amounts of the amino acid arginine which is used to produce nitric oxide, which leads to lowered blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease.
25% of their total calories comes from high-quality protein. That blows chia seeds and flax seeds out of the water. They only contain around 16-18%
Fatty acids have been shown to help immune function in the body, Being a good source of both polyunsaturated and essential fatty acids. For those of you on skin medications or suffering from itchy skin this could help.
Don’t forget the vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc.
For those of you looking to have a more plant based lifestyle hemp seeds are a great plant based source of protein. 1-2 tbsp provide about 11 grams of protein and are considered a complete protein, along with quinoa these are two of my go to protein sources on Meatless days. Both hemp seeds and quinoa contain the amino acid lysine, which is normally lacking in plant based protein.
Back up a second, what exactly makes them a complete protein? Well they contain all the essential amino acids that our bodies require but cannot produce. This means they contain significant amounts of methionine and cysteine, along with high levels of arginine and glutamic acid. Plus it’s digestibility is good. Unlike various other sources where the rate of digestion is not as high like certain grains, nuts and legumes.
Ladies… are you suffering from menopausal symptoms or PMS? Try one of my favourite recipes at the bottom for a prolactin reducing shake. Prolactin is the hormone which causes a lot of PMS trouble. Reducing is key and you can do so by it by adding hemp seeds, which are high in gamma linolenic acid – which produces prostaglandin E1 which in turn reduces the effects of prolactin, and therefore reduces the symptoms of PMS. I call these little guys the balancing act to my hormone protocol. They are great for menopausal women and fabulous for those trying to balance their hormones.
For those with digestion issues, so basically all of us, you will find they are high in fiber. They contain both soluble (20%) and insoluble (80%) fiber. For those of you fighting to regain the balance and heal leaky gut this is important. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in theft, its a valuable source of nutrients for beneficial bacteria, these little guys need all the help they can get. It helps reduce the spike in blood sugar. and regulates cholesterol as well. As far as insoluble fiber, this adds bulk to your poop, helping waste pass through the gut. One catch though is that they have to be whole hemp seeds, the hulled hemp seeds or hemp hearts actually contain minimal amounts of fiber as it mostly resides in the shell.
So be careful with those well meaning articles that tell you to add hemp hearts for a fiber boost, you just won’t get it if you aren’t incorporating the shell. Don’t panic though, I add a little psyllium or inulin fiber to my favourite shakes and voila problem solved.
Check out this fantastic recipe courtesy of Melissa Ramos of Sexy Food Therapy. You can add this to any shake or drink alone.
Creamy Cherry Hemp Milk
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1/2 cup soaked cashew nuts
- 1/4 cup frozen cherries
- 1″ fresh, peeled ginger (optional)
- 3 tbsp hemp hearts, raw, hulled
- 3 drops stevia, of sweetener of choice
Blend and enjoy!