Flax and chia seeds may have their fans, but there’s a new It-seed in town: hemp.
With serious, oft-repeated praise from health-food celebs, like vegan lifestyle guru Alicia Silverstone, and real life integrative doctor Andrew Weil, the humble hemp seed is becoming the emblem of healthy haute cuisine. This lesser-known variety of the cannibas sativa plant, they say, has more to offer than flax and chia seeds—and they’re not talking about a contact high.
“Hemp has an incredible nutritional profile that can help people fill some holes in their diet,” says Ashley Koff, a registered dietician who’s partial to the healthy benefits of hemp:
–Hemp is a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids—which our bodies can’t make and we must get in food, including the elusive GLA (gamma-linolenic acid).
-It contains important nutrients like iron, magnesium, and vitamin E.
-Hemp is a complete protein, meaning it can provide your body with all of the essential amino acids, a definite plus for vegetarians and vegans. “Having more whole-food, complete-protein options means you don’t have to rely as much on a protein bar,” says Koff.
So how to include hemp into your diet?
1. Eat the seeds. They don’t have to be ground (like flax), so you can sprinkle them onto just about anything. Koff recommends tossing them on a salad, over fresh berries, or into a soup.
2. Blend hemp (protein) powder in your morning smoothie.
3. Use hempseed oil instead of olive, as long as you don’t cook with it, since it will go rancid at higher temperatures.
4. Pour in hemp milk in place of dairy, almond, soy, or rice.
We promise, it won’t give you the munchies. —Lisa Elaine Held