- What is a superfood? A nutritionally dense food–typically plant-based (but also some fish and dairy)–that are thought to be good for one’s health. Blueberries, salmon, kale and acai are just a few examples of foods that have garnered the “superfood” label.
- What separates hemp from other superfoods?
- Can it get you high?
Hearts and Nubs
Hemp seeds are said to be the most nutritionally complete food source in the world. That’s a pretty hefty claim out the gate.
There’s a myth that most people can’t get their “complete” proteins from plants. A complete protein contains all nine essential amino acids needed to build, bind, and repair muscles and tissue. Hemp seeds (more commonly known as hemp hearts), and hemp ‘nubs’ (shelled hemp seeds) are the primary source of nutrition.
And while the hearts and nubs are chock full of supernutrients, they don’t get you high like its leafy counterparts do. Mint Lounge breaks down its historical contributions (mainly in Indian cuisine) and what’s edible and what’s not–today we’re focusing just on the edible hearts and nubs (it’s just fun to say).
Now let’s break down the actual nutritional facts. A great deal of our citations come from Chana Davis, PhD and an article she wrote for Tenderly on Medium–as well as Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D. over at Medical News Today.
Davis breaks down all nine essentials in this article and explains why “incomplete proteins” is a myth. That being said, Hemp provides a similar, if not an average higher, percentage of all daily averages when compared to veggies, beans, seeds, grains, and nuts–and is probably comparable to meat and dairy.
In a similar vein to non-plant-based protein sources, 25% of the calories we consume from hemp seeds come from protein–but require a smaller dosage. Hemp can provide equitable amounts of protein when compared to beef and lamb.
30 grams (g) of hemp seeds provide 11g of protein. For reference, according to the USDA 30g of beef (ground 70/30) only provides 4g of protein. The closest meat protein that can provide that level of nutrition at that dose is chicken, still clocking in at only 6g of protein for a 21g chicken wing with the bone and skin removed.
It’s also worth noting at some point in the food chain ALL proteins are derived from plants. If you consume meat, that protein was developed by the base protein structure of plants–all life is dependent and derivative of some form of chlorophyllic or photosynthetic process.
That being said, most plants do lack the amino acid lysine. But fun fact: hemp hearts are rich with it.
Most nuts, grains, seeds, and veggies have some degree or small percentage of fats (both saturated and unsaturated)–nuts and seeds more so than veggies and grains. But relatively few plants have a whopping 30%+ fat content.
Hemp is considered a “perfect balance” plant. Similar to sunflower seeds, it has a balanced concentration of alpha-linolenic acid (better known as an Omega-3) and linoleic acid (or Omega-6). Most plants with unsaturated fats contain only these two, but hemp hearts also contain gamma-linolenic acid (another Omega-6 variant).
These fat soluble amino acids are considered “brain boosters,” helping immensely with cardiovascular health. Healthy omega dosages have also been linked to heart health by maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol, as well as supporting a healthy immune system.
Minerals and Vitamins
In addition to containing all nine proteins, 3 forms of unsaturated fats, and all essential amino acids–there’s a wealth of vitamins and minerals in hearts and nubs. Most prolifically including (but not at all limited to):
- Vitamin E
- B Vitamins
- Vitamin B-6
Each one of these vitamins and minerals (a few of which, like Zinc and B, are essential) could take up an entire blog post of its own. Know that such densely packed sources of rich vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are uncommon–while also carrying such a breadth of fats, proteins, and amino acid variables.
We’re not done yet. In addition to those additions, Hemp is a great source of fiber. Plants are the only source of natural fiber on the planet, and can provide either soluble, or insoluble fiber.
Hemp provides both (20% soluble–80% insoluble).
You can read it more in depth here, but the key takeaways should be:
Dissolves easily in water and is broken down into a gel-like substance in the colon. It also can–
- Lower fat absorption and help with weight management.
- Lower cholesterol
- Stabilizing blood sugar (glucose) levels
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Feeds the healthy gut bacteria
Does not dissolve in water and is left intact as food moves through the gastrointestinal tract. But can also help–
- Prevent constipation
- Lower the risk of diverticular disease
- Reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
Both Help You:
- Feel satiated or full after meals (helping you listen to your body, and often eat or snack less later on)
- Lower disease risk
- Incorporate hemp into more of your diet.
- It’s a bountiful source of many key vitamins, minerals, acids, fats, fibers, and proteins.
- Hemp takes less water, a shorter life cycle, and fewer pesticides to grow.
- It’s not associated with the extracts of the leaf that merit mental relief, psycho-reactive or mind-altering properties
- Hemp hearts and nubs can be eaten raw, cooked, or taken supplementally
Like what you’ve read about hemp? Give it a try.