I’ve been using hemp seeds for years. They are super nutritious, fabulously nutty and add a delicious crunchy, creaminess to salads and cereal (especially porridge). It turns out, counter-intuitively, shelled hemp seeds are more nutritious than whole ones. Which is great, because they are far more enjoyable that way too!

RawChocCo-HempShelled-web-2013-03Hemp seeds are an excellent way to boost protein intake. Unique in their composition of essential fatty acids, hemp seeds offer the optimal ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 nutrients. Their distinct nutty flavour makes them a delicious and healthy addition to any salad, dressing or smoothie.

Hemp is a member of the Cannabis family, as is Marijuana. Hemp seeds and protein powder however, contain no more than 0.001% THC, which is well under the EU legal limit of 0.2%, with no potential of harmful side effects. Hemp is increasingly gaining publicity for its exceptional health benefits. Its amino acid profile is unmatched in comparison to more common sources of proteins such as meat, milk, eggs and soy, thus elevating hemp from a mere substitute for vegetarians and vegans to a key component in healthy eating.

Interestingly, when the peel is removed, the percentage of essential nutrients actually increases in the hulled seeds: the protein content increases by 8% (reaching more than 30% in total). A shelled seed is considered 40% more nutritional than a whole one, making shelled hemp seeds an ideal choice for gaining maximum benefit from hemp.

Hemp’s main nutritional advantage over other seeds lies in the composition of its oil and in its protein which contains all of the essential amino acids in the best possible ratio. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fatty acids (EFAs) which cannot be produced in the body and so must be obtained from food.

Another standout attribute of hemp is that 65% of its protein is a globulin called edestin – a protein that also occurs in our blood. Globulins are used in the production of antibodies, which attack foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.

As well as being a sustainable source of protein with hardly any cholesterol-raising saturated fats, hemp is noted for being highly digestible and has not been associated with the dietary intolerances that often accompany other plant-based proteins like wheat and soy.

For further hemp discussion, inspiration and recipes see Pearsnotparsnips post