The other day my mom asked me what the difference was between hemp, chia and flax seeds? I’ll be honest, I was a little stumped. I know they are all good sources of essential fatty acids and high in fiber but as for what differentiates them, I was not so sure. So I started looking into it and thought I might share some of my findings.
I’ve broken my research up into three parts. Each part will feature information on the nutritional profile of hemp, flax or chia seeds. Since all this information is useless unless we can apply it i’ve included a recipe using the featured seed.
I hope you learn something or at the very least test out a delicious recipe 🙂
I don’t know about you, but hemp makes me think of hippies twirling around and drumming in their organic homemade moomoos. It’s true that hemp does in fact have many non-edible uses. In the past hemp was used for making paper, clothes, ropes and oil for lamps and many people continue to use it for these items today. Most notably hemp is often associated with Marijuana. Just to be clear, you cannot get high for smoking or eating hemp! Marijuana and hemp both come from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa L., but from different varieties, similar to the concept of different dog breeds. Weed is from the flowering tops and leaves of psychoactive varieties of Cannabis. Hemp seeds on the other hand are obviously the seeds but come from non psychoactive plants. Hemp is legal to grow everywhere…and well we all know where Marijuana is legal…
BUT this post is about the nutritional benefits of hemp! So let’s get to it.
1) Hemp seeds contain all 20 Amino Acids (the building blocks of protein) including the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies are unable to produce on their own.
2) Hemp contains the highest botanical source of essential fatty acids (Omega 6s and Omega 3s), with more essential fatty acids than flax or any other nut or seed
3) Hemp seeds have a perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6s and Omega-3s. This is important because excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids or a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is common in Western diets, promotes the pathogenesis of many diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer and many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. At the same time increased levels of omega-3 or a low omega-6/omega-3 ratios prevents the development of these diseases.
4) Hemp seeds contain a high protein percentage of the easily digestible and complete proteins that strengthen immunity and fend off toxins. One ounce (about two tablespoons) of hemp seeds contains 9 grams of protein!
5) Hemp seeds are high in vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and iron.
6) Hemp seeds are a rich source of phytonutrients, the disease-protective element of plants with benefits protecting your immunity, bloodstream, tissues, cells, skin, and organs.
I’ve only included these 6 points but hemp offers many other benefits. Click the link at the bottom if you’re interested in exploring more.
Clearly hemp seeds are a great addition to a healthy diet. Like anything they should be consumed in moderation. As I mentioned above, an excessive or uneven amount of omega6-omega3 ratio can cause a host of negative reactions in the body. This is true of all fatty acid containing foods (chia, flax, nuts, other seeds etc…). Hemp may contain the highest amount of these fatty acids compared to other seeds but also has the benefit of the perfect 3:1 ratio so if eaten in limited quantities it is definitely the best option. Hemp for the win!
There are many different ways to incorporate hemp seeds into your diet. My favourites include sprinkling them on oatmeal, adding them to smoothies or incorporating them into snack bites to up the protein as I do in the recipe below.
I think this post is long enough so let’s get to the good stuff…Print
Lemon Hemp Bites
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 15 balls
- 1 cup cashews
- 1 cup dates
- ¼ cup hemp seeds (shelled)
- ¼ cup vanilla protein (I used Vega)
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of ½ a lemon
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- In food processor pulse cashews and dates together until broken down (about 2 mins)
- Add in all other ingredients (except lemon juice) and process for 1 min.
- While processor is running add in juice of half a lemon until all ingredients come together to form a large ball.
- Divide into 15 medium sized balls for an easy energy boost! Store in refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for a month.
For more information on hemp seeds click here
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