Hemp is the new superfood that everyone is talking about! We’re here to unravel the mystery behind this wonderful plant food.
What is hemp?
Not everyone knows what hemp actually is and, unfortunately, some people think that it’s the same as ‘marijuana’. This is because they both come from the same plant, Cannabis sativa, but they are actually quite different.
The main difference between hemp and marijuana is the THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) content. THC is the cannabinoid that gives marijuana its psychoactive effects. Hemp has very low levels of THC (less than 0.3%) while marijuana has high levels. So hemp is totally safe for human consumption.
Is hemp legal for food consumption in NZ?
Yes! Hemp was approved for food consumption on the 12th of November 2018.
Why you should eat hemp seeds and hemp seed oil
This is where it gets exciting! Hemp seeds are a nutritional powerhouse that are rich in vitamin E, folate, magnesium, and iron. Plus they’re gluten free and vegan.
An excellent source of plant‑based protein
Hemp seeds provide all the essential amino acids that are more commonly found in animal products, so hemp seeds can be considered to be a complete protein source. They are also very easy to digest.
Rich in healthy fats
Hemp seeds contain the essential fatty acids (EFAs) omega-3, 6 and 9, in the right ratio for good health. Our bodies cannot make these fats so we need to get them from our diet.
One of the omega-6 fatty acids that hemp contains is gamma-linolenic acid, which can help with counteracting inflammation. This is important for our health because, if inflammation becomes chronic, it can start to damage healthy cells and organs.
Hemp seeds may also be good for your heart. Gamma-linolenic acid, along with arginine which is also in hemp seeds, have been linked to a reduction in the risk of heart disease. This is due to the nitric oxide in hemp that dilates and relaxes the blood vessels, leading to lowered blood pressure.
The gamma-linoleic acid and oleic acids found in hemp oil can play a vital role in skin health and have even been shown to help people suffering with eczema.
High in fibre
Hemp seeds contain high amounts of fibre—both soluble and insoluble—which has been shown to aid digestive health. Fibre feeds the good bacteria in our gut which can help to maintain and regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Is hemp an eco-friendly crop?
Yes! Hemp has many awesome environmental benefits:
- Hemp thrives on less water than most industrial crops.
- It is naturally pest resistant, so it does not need pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, which can have adverse effects on our environment and waterways.
- Per hectare, hemp can remove roughly 11 tonnes of C02 from the atmosphere each year—much more than the equivalent area of trees.
- Hemp can actually condition the soil that it was planted in. Because of its deep tap roots, it helps to hold the soil together, reducing erosion, and the roots also loosen the soil, allowing more delicate plants to grow afterward. What’s more, hemp can raise the level of nitrogen in soil, so it is used to rotate with other plant-food crops to raise the yield of those crops.
- Bees love hemp! And we need bees to keep the cycle of life turning on our planet.
So, how can I incorporate hemp into my diet?