A seed revolution is occuring in our midst. Hemp, chia, flax and canary seeds are excellent, nutrient-rich choices. Since these seeds can be costly and expire quickly (most, like hemp, are best stored in the refrigerator), buy a small bag of one seed and, when finished, switch it up. Each seed has a unique nutritional profile, so enjoy the variety and keep 'em moving by spoon, fork or straw!
Hemp seed is a wonderful source of dietary fiber, both insoluble and soluble, in a ratio of 4:1, says a report published in the Biosystems Engineering Journal by a team of researchers from Ankara University, Turkey. Insoluble fiber is best for bulking up the stool and easing the passage through the digestive tract, thereby reducing symptoms of both diarrhea and constipation. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, is responsible for slowing glucose absorption and increasing the digestive and gastric juices, which further ease the passing of bowels. Soluble fiber also stimulates bile juice, which reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the body. Overall, the effects of these two types of fiber on the body can help you avoid a number of mild to serious health conditions.
Hemp seeds -- sometimes called "hemp hearts" -- are sprinkled on foods, pressed for oil, ground into protein powder and made into milk. Afraid of psychotropic side effects? Don't be. While these small, pale-beige to dark-brown seeds form the edible part of the hemp plant (aka pot, ganja, weed, grass, Mary Jane, doobage), they don't contain THC, the active drug found in hemp leaf.
We carry Raw, USDA Certified Organic Shelled Hemp Seeds by Nutiva. They are the highest quality Hemp Seeds available. Nutiva's Shelled Hemp Seeds are cold-processed (under 104°F) from raw, live hemp seeds. Nutiva utilizes a mechanical process to remove the hard shells, yielding delicious shelled hemp seeds. The shelled hemp seeds are stored in refrigerated warehouses at temperatures below 40°F. They are not heat sterilized like many other brands of Shelled Hemp Seeds. Nutiva’s purpose is to produce the highest quality organic superfoods, providing superior nutritional value to their customers. They support sustainable agricultural practices and give a fair return to the farmers on whom we depend. They donate 1 percent of their sales to groups that promote sustainable agriculture. Nutiva was one of the first food companies to place the Non-GMO (Non-Genetically Modified Organism) symbol on its labels.
In the United States, the public's perception of hemp as marijuana has blocked hemp from becoming a useful crop and product," in spite of its vital importance prior to World War II. Ideally, according to Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the herb should be desiccated and harvested towards the end of flowering. This early cropping reduces the seed yield but improves the fiber yield and quality. In these strains of industrial hemp* the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content would have been very low.
Separation of hurd and bast fiber is known as decortication. Traditionally, hemp stalks would be water-retted first before the fibers were beaten off the inner hurd by hand, a process known as scutching. As mechanical technology evolved, separating the fiber from the core was accomplished by crushing rollers and brush rollers, or by hammer-milling, wherein a mechanical hammer mechanism beats the hemp against a screen until hurd, smaller bast fibers, and dust fall through the screen. After the Marijuana Tax Act was implemented in 1938, the technology for separating the fibers from the core remained "frozen in time". Recently, new high-speed kinematic decortication has come about, capable of separating hemp into three streams; bast fiber, hurd, and green microfiber.
Hemp was used extensively by the United States during World War II to make uniforms, canvas, and rope. Much of the hemp used was cultivated in Kentucky and the Midwest. During World War II, the U.S. produced a short 1942 film, Hemp for Victory, promoting hemp as a necessary crop to win the war. U.S. farmers participated in the campaign to increase U.S. hemp production to 36,000 acres in 1942. This increase amounted to more than 20 times the production in 1941 before the war effort.
Hemp seeds have long been prized as a high-quality source of plant-based protein and omega fatty acids. A single serving of hemp seeds, about two heaping tablespoons, provides 10 grams of protein and 10 grams of omegas. Hemp also packs in all nine essential amino acids, which we need to get through diet since our bodies don't produce them naturally. Hemp seed oil, which is the oil derived from pressed hemp seeds, contains the most essential fatty acids of any nut or seed oil. Of the three main hemp products on the market—seeds, oil, and protein powder—hemp seeds will provide the broadest spectrum of nutritional benefits per serving.
Although cannabis as a drug and industrial hemp both derive from the species Cannabis sativa and contain the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), they are distinct strains with unique phytochemical compositions and uses. Hemp has lower concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), which decreases or eliminates its psychoactive effects. The legality of industrial hemp varies widely between countries. Some governments regulate the concentration of THC and permit only hemp that is bred with an especially low THC content.
Hemp is used to make a variety of commercial and industrial products, including rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation, and biofuel. The bast fibers can be used to make textiles that are 100% hemp, but they are commonly blended with other fibers, such as flax, cotton or silk, as well as virgin and recycled polyester, to make woven fabrics for apparel and furnishings. The inner two fibers of the plant are more woody and typically have industrial applications, such as mulch, animal bedding and litter. When oxidized (often erroneously referred to as "drying"), hemp oil from the seeds becomes solid and can be used in the manufacture of oil-based paints, in creams as a moisturizing agent, for cooking, and in plastics. Hemp seeds have been used in bird feed mix as well. A survey in 2003 showed that more than 95% of hemp seed sold in the European Union was used in animal and bird feed.
Despite this progress, hemp businesses in the US have had difficulties expanding as they have faced challenges in traditional marketing and sales approaches. According to a case study done by Forbes, hemp businesses and startups have had difficulty marketing and selling non-psychoactive hemp products, as some online advertising platforms and financial institutions do not distinguish between hemp and marijuana.
Considering its popularity from long ago, when even our forefathers appreciated the value of hemp seeds, it seems unusual that the plant would have such a bad reputation today. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp plants in their gardens. Hemp paper was even used for the Declaration of Independence, and Benjamin Franklin produced hemp paper at his mill. The environmental advantages and nutritional benefits of growing industrial hemp seem to many to be worth lifting its restrictions.
Most health organizations agree that the human body needs a 3 or 4:1 balance of omega 6 over omega 3. Hemp seed is the only seed where this ideal balance occurs. It does not occur in flax, almond, walnut, soybean or olive oil. Daily use of flax seed can lead to dangerous imbalances since flax seed oil has a balance of 1:4 instead of a healthy 4:1 omega-6 over omega-3.
Hemp plants grow brown popcorn kernel-sized hard seeds. Inside these hard seeds lie soft, white or light green inner kernels that are packed with essential amino acids, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can't really derive a lot of nutritional value from the unhulled seeds, so when you see a bag at the store labeled "hemp seeds," what you're actually buying is those soft inner kernels, also known as hemp hearts. Hemp hearts can be pressed to make hemp seed oil, leaving behind a byproduct that can be turned into hemp protein powder. You can find all of these hemp products at health food stores, or a well-stocked grocery store like Whole Foods.
Millennia of selective breeding have resulted in varieties that display a wide range of traits; e.g. suited for a particular environments/latitudes, producing different ratios and compositions of terpenoids and cannabinoids (CBD, THC, CBG, CBC, CBN...etc.), fibre quality, oil/seed yield, etc. Hemp grown for fiber is planted closely, resulting in tall, slender plants with long fibers.
John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.