The fruit of the Cannabis plant is a nut so nutritious that it is easily classified as a superfood, both for us humans as well as for many of the animals that we raise. Mostly the term “hemp seed” is used instead of hemp nuts or hemp grain, so we use it here, but all three refer to the same fruit. Once harvested, hemp seeds can be processed into one of several food products, including shelled seeds called “hemp hearts,” toasted hemp seeds, protein and fiber powders, as well as hemp seed oil. These can be eaten as is or added to a wide assortment of foods to enhance flavor and nutrition.
Hemp seed is comprised of roughly a third each of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Most of the carbs in hemp seed is insoluble fiber, which plays a critical role in healthy digestion, while the protein in hemp seed contains all of the essential amino acids needed for human health (low in only lysine), is high in the two healthful and easily digestible proteins albumin and edestine, and has been shown to lower the risk of kidney disease. Hemp seed oil contains nearly all omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the ideal 3:1 ratio for human health and is also high in tocopherols (Vitamin E), a potent anti-oxidant. Furthermore, hemp seed oil can be used in applications ranging from body care products such as soaps and lotions to premium wood sealer.
Besides providing healthy sources of the three macronutrients, hemp seed contains a long list of vitamin and mineral micronutrients, including folate, thiamine (Vitamin B6), niacin (Vitamin B3), riboflavin (Vitamin B12), magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, iron, and zinc. Furthermore, hemp seed contains phytosterols, which compete with and thus lower the absorption of cholesterol.
Packed with nutrients and a low-glycemic index while free of gluten, lactose, trypsin inhibitors, oligosaccharides, and GMOs, it’s easy to see why hemp seed should be part of everyone’s diet.