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Hemp seed is making a name for itself beyond its typical hippie profile…and for a good reason! It, like our favorite ancient grain quinoa, is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids necessary to build proteins in the body. This may not seem like a big deal, but the vast majority of all complete proteins are found from animal sources. This makes hemp a superfood, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Another benefit of the protein found in hemp is that it scores a relatively high protein digestibility corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS), which translates into easier digestibility of the protein.

hemp

Hemp offers a healthy array of fats

Hemp is also a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAS) and a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAS). Hemp goes the extra mile when providing you with PUFAS by providing their omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in an ideal ratio (3:1). Lower ratios of omega 6s (which are found prominently in the American diet) to omega 3s (which are more difficult to find in food) have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic disease and suppress inflammation. Omega 3s promote heart health, brain health, healthy cholesterol levels and may even reduce the risk of cancer and depression. Hemp seeds also provide plant sterols which can reduce cholesterol absorption and promote healthier blood cholesterol levels.

The benefits do not stop there!

This nutty-flavored seed also promotes digestive health by providing about 2 grams of fiber for every 2 tablespoons of seeds. It is a source of antioxidant vitamin E, as well as other trace minerals.

The best part is that hemp is easy to incorporate into your diet. It can be as easy as sprinkling some seeds in your oatmeal, blending them in with your smoothie, adding them to your salad, or even just eating a slice of our new Superfood Bread.

hemp_in_oatmeal

So, how will you add this super seed to your diet? Let us know in the comments.

If nutrition is important to you, get our guide to "Whole Grains & Your Health."

Get Our Guide to Whole Grains

**Important Note: The U.S. Air Force states that "Studies have shown that products made with hemp seed and hemp seed oil may contain varying levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient of marijuana which is detectable under the Air Force Drug Testing Program. In order to ensure military readiness, the ingestion of products containing or products derived from hemp seed or hemp seed oil is prohibited. Failure to comply with the mandatory provisions of this paragraph by military personnel is a violation of Article 92, UCMJ."

Resources:

Small, E. and D. Marcus. 2002. Hemp: A new crop with new uses for North America. p. 284–326. In: J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds.), Trends in new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ncnu02/v5-284.html Accessed 5/2014.

House J, Neufeld J, Leson G. Evaluating the Quality of Protein from Hemp Seed (Cannabis sativa L.) Products Through the use of the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score Method. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2010, 58 (22), pp 11801–11807

Davis B. Vegetarian’s Challenge — Optimizing Essential Fatty Acid Status. Today’s Dietitian. Vol. 12 No. 2 P. 22. 2/2010. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/020810p22.shtml Accessed 5/2014.

Image credits:

Bowl of hemp seed: photo credit: digiyesica via photopin cc

Bowl of oatmeal: photo credit: anthimeria via photopin cc

Hi, I am Melissa! I’m a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and I have been the Nutrition Specialist for Great Harvest since December of 2010. I got my start in nutrition at Colorado State University where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Science with a focus in Dietetics. I went on to graduate from the Dietetic Internship Program at the Baptist Health System in San Antonio and then work as a Medical Nutrition Specialist in Houston. My love of the outdoors and the opportunity to work at one of Outside Magazine’s Top 100 Best Places to Work brought me to Montana and Great Harvest. My favorite part of my job is being able to work with an amazing group of fun and intellectual individuals who are passionate about making healthy eating a delicious experience while giving back to communities across the country.