You’ve probably seen hemp seeds popping up on the Instagram feeds of wellness bloggers as a garnish for their pimped avo toasts and porridge recipes…
But, until recently, hemp was actually illegal to buy and consume as food within Australia. While the wellness community down in Oz has celebrated the new legislation, it has also opened up quite a few questions. What’s so great about these seeds anyway? And, why were they illegal for consumption for so long? Here goes…
What are hemp seeds?
These tiny white seeds – which are sometimes called hemp hearts – come from the hemp plant – and while they are the same species as cannabis – they contain miniscule amounts of THC, which is the hallucinogenic compound found in marijuana. So, no, eating these seeds won’t get you high! Hemp seeds are also bursting with healthy fats and essential amino acids, making them a fantastic source of protein – especially for vegetarians and vegans. In fact, hemp seeds contain 50–70 per cent more protein than chia seeds or flaxseeds!
What are the health benefits?
Not only are hemp seeds a great plant-based source of protein, but they’re also a great non-animal source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are super helpful in reducing inflammation in the body as well as improving brain function and treating skin conditions like eczema. Hemp seeds are also chock-full of essential amino acids, including the nine that your body can’t make. And if that isn’t enough incentive ladies, hemp seeds have also been shown to help reduce symptoms of both PMS and menopause!
How do you use hemp seeds?
Luckily, hemp seeds are super versatile so they can pretty much be added to anything! Instagram is flooded with pictures of hemp seeds sprinkled on avo toast, porridge, yoghurt and smoothies, but you can also add these seeds to your salads, stir them through your chia puddings and sprinkle them on top steamed green veggies – it doesn’t matter if the dish is sweet or savoury!
Why were hemp seeds illegal for so long?
There have been several attempts to legalise the sale of food-grade hemp in the past, but it was continually rejected on the grounds that it may have been able to deliver a positive response to drug tests. But, the likelihood of this was deemed impossible, and finally, hemp seeds were welcomed into the food profile of Australia!
Our in-house dietician, Chelsea, loves these seeds for their plethora of positive compounds!
“Hemp seeds are little protein powerhouses and we are so glad that they have finally been legalised in Australia! Other than being an awesome source of plant-based protein, hemp seeds are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and E. Another amazing thing about these tiny little seed is that they contain phytosterols – natural chemical compounds that help to lower blood cholesterol levels. And, one tablespoon of hemp seeds provides 11g of protein – about the equivalent of two eggs!”
Keep your eyes peeled as we’ll have a few brand new recipes containing hemp popping up on our blog super soon!
And, just a final tip on storage…
Much like nuts, hemp seeds are best stored in the fridge or freezer to prevent them going rancid. Once you’ve opened the bag of seeds, transfer them to an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze for up to a year. If you leave them sitting in the pantry you can expect them to last around 3–4 months.
Have you tried hemp seeds yet?