If you’ve been avoiding all the latest hemp products thinking they contain loads of the mind-altering chemical THC, it may be time to separate truth from myth.
The Truth: Hemp is a seed — it is not marijuana. Yes, all hemp products contain delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (commonly known as THC), though the residual level in hemp products is very small, usually 1 or 2 parts per million.
Hemp has gotten a bad reputation over the years for no good reason. The plant and its products are full of health benefits — with very tiny traces of the psychedelic chemical THC, which is found in marijuana plants. People are finally starting to catch on to the trend: According to the Hemp Industries Association, sales of hemp products ranging from clothing to non-dairy milk grew to a $581 million industry as of 2013. Here are a few of the healthy hemp products you may want to add to your shelves.
Hemp seeds are a great addition to any diet. One ounce of hemp seeds contains 10 grams of protein — 21 percent of the recommended daily value. Hemp protein contains all 20 known amino acids, including the nine essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce. Bonus: Its protein is much more digestible than other seeds, like flaxseeds, and won’t leave you feeling bloated. Hemp seeds are also high in iron and minerals, such as zinc and phosphorus, and taste like sunflower seeds or pine nuts. A popular way to work hemp seeds into your diet is by adding them to smoothies, but they can also be added to salads or granolas; actually, the possibilities are endless.
Hemp oil may be the new extra-virgin olive oil. Hemp seeds are pressed cold to yield oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to prevent coronary heart disease. Our bodies cannot produce these fats, so it’s important to get them through your diet and hempseed oil is a great source. The aliphatic alcohols contained in hempseed oil have been known to lower cholesterol, and one of the antioxidants it contains is beneficial against degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Much like the seeds, hempseed oil has a nutty flavor that tastes great as a salad dressing, and in fact it’s best to use the oil cold to maximize its health benefits. Because of its low smoking point, it is not an ideal oil for cooking and has a short shelf life.
Hemp milk is a great alternative for people with lactose intolerance and soy or milk allergies. Though hemp milk doesn’t have quite as much protein as soy or cow’s milk, it still contains about 2 grams per cup. It has a creamy texture and is a bit thicker than skim milk or other dairy alternatives. If you can’t partake of other dairy products, this is a great, healthy alternative source of protein. Give it a try — you might enjoy the flavor!
The Bottom Line: Hemp products are healthy additions to your diet — and a great choice if you have allergies or other dietary restrictions that prohibit you from eating dairy or soy products.