Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Superfood Spotlight Series: Day 8: Hemp

Happy Tuesday!:) 

I hope you all had an excellent start to the week and that you're enjoying some spring weather! I got out for a late night walk last night and enjoyed the peaceful breeze after dark as a fantastic way to unwind from the day. I love how revitalizing nature can be like that!

Speaking of unwinding, today's superfood is a great way to help you rest, recharge, and renergize yourself all at the same time! It's also Earth Day, which is the perfect time to promote this delicious, "earthy" superfood.

If you haven't heard of this superfood yet, allow me to introduce you to one of my long-time favorites....



I first started using hemp protein powder back in 2008 when I was looking for an easy-to-digest protein powder. I never cared for meat, don't digest beans and legumes well, and was tired of eating eggs, fish, and yogurt all the time. Luckily, I found hemp and everything changed. 

Hemp seeds are one of the most healing, energizing, and easy-to-digest plant foods you can eat. Just in case you don't know, they do NOT contain THC, the chemical in marijuana, despite coming from the same botanical family. 

Hemp seeds are little powerhouses of superfood powers as I hope you'll see below..but first...

What is Hemp and Where Does It Come From?

Hemp seeds are the edible part of the Cannabis plant, and look somewhat like a larger sesame seed in size and appearance, with slightly green hues.  Unlike most seeds we know of today, such as flax, chia, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds, hemp seeds are rich in unique fibers that have been used for economic sustenance in cultures all across the world. Hemp fiber is extremely durable and many cultures have often used it to make fabrics, living supplies, and even clothing, just to name a few ways hemp has been used throughout history. 

Most hemp is grown in Canada, which produces optimal growing conditions hemp plants need for the healthiest growth. It's also illegal in the United States because the government has grouped hemp into the same category as marijuana, though it has no THC (the addictive drug chemical in marijuana).

What Does Hemp Taste Like? 

Hemp seeds have a very earthy taste, which is to be expected due to their high chlorophyll content.  Hemp seeds are much softer and easier to chew than other seeds, and have quite the unique taste. Hemp protein powder is made from raw, cold-milled hemp seeds, and to me, is one of the best-tasting plain protein powders I've ever had. In comparison to rice protein, which is bland in taste, hemp protein has a slightly nutty taste and very hearty mouth feel. 

Why Use Hemp?

 Hemp seeds are one of the best sources of omega 3 fats, and are  extremely high in protein, chlorophyll, magnesium, iron, B vitamins, and fiber. They also have a 100% digestibility factor, making them perfect for someone on a vegan or omnivore diet looking for adequate protein intake.  Hemp is also a GREAT option to build lean-body mass if you're into fitness or strength-training as well.

Here are 10 Fast Health Facts About Hemp:

1. Hemp seeds contain 45% of your daily magnesium needs in just 3 tablespoons. 
2. Hemp seeds contain 25% of your daily needs of omega 3 fatty acids in just three tablespoon. 
3. Hemp seeds contain GLA's, which are fatty acids that help your body convert the omega 3 fatty acids in hemp into a usable form for your body. This gives you a more well-rounded intake of essential fatty acids (EFA's) that your body can easily absorb and use.
4. Hemp protein is the perfect alternative to grain-based or dairy-based protein if you don't tolerate those options.  Hemp protein contains all essential amino acids your body needs to thrive and function at optimal levels. 
5. Hemp can cure constipation and digestive disorders due to its high fiber content and ease of digestibility. It also causes no pain or bloating unlike other fiber-rich foods. 
6. Hemp protein is rich in chlorophyll that lowers inflammation in your body and can reverse joint pain and arthritis. Got muscle pain? Eat some hemp and you'll be good!
7. Hemp seeds reduce depression due to high amounts of B vitamins, magnesium, and omega 3's. They have been extremely beneficial to me for relieving anxiety, depression, and general sadness (and so much better than turning to sugar!)
8. Hemp consumption can raise your immunity due to high levels of edestin, an easy-to-digest plant protein found in hemp. Your body needs edestin for optimal immune function, and can easily use it to repair itself quickly.
9. Hemp protein is a fantastic beauty remedy to clear acne, help your hair grow, and strengthen your nails!
10. Best of all, hemp seeds do not contain any cholesterol unlike all sources of animal protein. They are beneficial to your heart, joints, your skin, digestive system, and your entire body. 

*Did You Know?*
Unlike grains, soy products, beans, legumes, or nuts, hemp seeds contain no phytates, which are found on the exterior of most plant foods containing proteins. Phytates can disrupt digestion, promote mineral deficiency in the body, and lead to pain and bloating. Hemp is a great replacement to grains and beans in your diet if you're sensitive due to its unique nutritional profile. 

What Type of Hemp is Best?

  • It's so important to trust your hemp manufacturer of choice. There are three main companies who sell hemp products in Canada, which are Nutiva, Manitoba Harvest and the Living Harvest/Tempt brand. I've only used Nutiva and Manitoba Harvest, so I can technically only vouch for those two. 
  • I would suggest both Nutiva and Manitoba Harvest brands. I'm partial to Manitoba Harvest because to me, the products taste fresher and I adore the company. The owner of the company actually started Manitoba Harvest after he started using hemp and lost over a 100 pounds and reduced several health disorders as a result. 
  • I also support Manitoba Harvest's sustainability efforts and their continual charity efforts to the environment.  
  • In terms of buying from a company that USES hemp seeds or protein in their products, ONNIT, Amazing Grass, Garden of Life, and Sunwarrior are all fantastic sources to choose from that use organic and/or non-GMO hemp. 

There are many varieties of hemp products on the market: seeds, butter, oils, protein powders, superfood mixes, protein bars, and more.  Which one is best for you?

Personally, I think they're all pretty great, with one exception. I avoid all hemp products with added sugar, even coconut sugar, which is found in vanilla and chocolate-flavored hemp proteins by Manitoba Harvest and Nutiva. 
I hope one day these companies will jump on board the stevia train, but until then, I go with plain options.

Luckily, both companies make PLAIN hemp protein, which I love!

I go with Manitoba Harvest Hemp protein, which comes in three different options.  You can buy hemp protein either higher in protein, fat, or fiber.

 The three options are:
  • Hemp Pro 70 (all protein, no fiber, little fat),
  • Hemp Pro 50 (mix of protein and fiber), and
  • Hemp Pro Fiber (which has a little more fat and higher fiber with less protein). 

I use  the Hemp Pro 50 from Manitoba Harvest, which has a well-rounded nutty taste that's got 7 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein per 4 tablespoon serving. Not too shabby! 

I buy the large, 5 pound tub, which saves you more money and lasts up to 75 servings.  You can find it in smaller containers, such as one pound, or two pounds if you want a smaller dose. It also comes in all three variations (70/50/Fiber) in all three sizes as well. 

It's got a great amino acid profile, it's vegan, very filling, and super-simple to digest. Not to mention, it's a beauty and protein supplement all in one- yes please!

Nutiva makes similar varieties with similar protein contents for around the same price if you want to purchase from them as well. They also taste fantastic, and are very fair in price.

In terms of hemp seeds, I LOVE Manitoba Harvest hemp seeds (hearts), which are so rich, nutty, and incredibly fresh! You can buy them in stores, or online. They come in both organic and non-organic varieties. I go with organic, just to be safe! Nutiva's hemp seeds are all organic if you want to go with that brand too. 

Both Nutiva and Manitoba Harvest are non-GMO, just so ya know!:)

I also don't eat hemp oil, which is a little heavy for my stomach, but I do use it as a body oil, and it is amazing for your skin!

How To Use Hemp

You can literally use hemp protein or hemp seeds in anything really. I'd suggest using them raw instead of heating them to protect the fatty acids, which turn rancid when heated. 

Here's how I use hemp:

Hemp Protein:
  • Smoothies
  • Mixed with yogurt to make pudding
  • Mixed with almond milk and stevia to make pudding
  • Sprinkled on top of smoothies for a fun topping
  • Anywhere I want added fiber (oatmeal, etc.)
  • Raw protein bars (or bites)

Hemp Seeds (Hearts)
  • Salads
  • Hemp milk
  • Smoothies
  • Raw energy bars (or bites)
  • On top of smoothies

You can literally use the seeds or protein anywhere, and you'll notice HUGE benefits from any way you choose. Mood, energy, beauty, digestion, and many other benefits are all possible just from one or two servings a day. 

My Favorite Hemp Recipes
It's pretty obvious how much I love hemp, since it appears in tons of my recipes. For a full list of hemp recipes, visit my recipes page. Here are some of my favorites to get you started!

*All these recipes are vegan, sugar-free, soy-free, and gluten-free*

I also use it in ALL my smoothies these days, so feel free to check a few of those out too!:)

Other Hemp Resources:

I can't imagine life without hemp in it!:) It's so delicious, good for you, and keeps your body and brain in tip top shape!:)

So you tell me, do you use hemp? How so? 

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