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Tasty, nutritious, and versatile hempseed foods and supplements are high on the list of health-conscious shoppers in natural health stores.

Tasty, nutritious, and versatile hempseed foods and supplements are high on the list of health-conscious shoppers in natural health stores.

Resembling the seeds of cultivated grains, hempseeds are historically documented as a food source in ancient China. Today hempseeds are scoring a culinary hit with natural food fans everywhere.

The surging popularity of this deliciously nutty little seed has led to the development and marketing of an expanding array of food products. Burger patties, breakfast cereals, baked goods, frozen waffles, snack bars, cheese, nut butter, oil, and condiments based on hempseeds are finding their way to our dining tables while natural supplement producers are featuring organically grown Canadian hempseed protein and oil.

Omega Power

One primary reason for the increasing popularity of hempseeds is their naturally occurring omega fatty-acid profile. Hempseeds provide a blend of readily assimilated omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fats. Each of these omega fats performs a wide range of important physiological functions in the human body ranging from acting as an anti-inflammatory to regulating cholesterol levels and modulating immune response.

Pure Hemp Oil

Canadians are most fortunate to have organic hempseed growers and processors in Manitoba who make a variety of hemp-food products including pure organic oil. While all hempseed-source foods contain a blend of omega fats, these healthy fats are most concentrated in pure liquid hempseed oil and encapsulated hemp-oil products. Antioxidant-rich, natural vitamin E in the form of alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-tocotrienol are also present in hempseeds.

A lush golden green colour, hemp oil imparts a rich, buttery flavour that adds fresh, nutty richness when lightly drizzled on leafy green salads, steamed vegetables, baked potatoes, steamed whole grains, and fresh-baked bread.

Hemp oil can also be blended into protein drinks and fruit smoothies for essential fatty acid fortification. Elderly people, especially those who are convalescing and underweight, can benefit from the addition of these omega-rich calories in their daily diets. Hemp oil should be stored in the refrigerator, used quickly, and never heated.

Hempseed "nuts"

Perhaps the most popular of all hemp based snack foods are hemp "nuts." Technically, hempseeds are categorized as a fruit, as are sunflower seeds. Along with their protein, essential fat, and complex carbohydrate profile, hemp nuts provide a good mix of dietary fibre, lignans, and phytosterols that may protect against certain hormone-related cancers. Simply eat them as you would hulled sunflowers seeds; hemp nuts are a delectable and nutritious topping sprinkled on porridge or vegetable and fruit salads or used as any other nut or seed in your favourite recipes. Keep the package tightly sealed and refrigerated after opening.

Nut Butter Spread

Made from shelled, lightly roasted, ground hempseeds, hemp nut butter can be used as you would any other nut butter as a spread for sandwiches, crackers, and celery. You can also use hempseed butter as part or all replacement for recipes calling for peanut butter or other nut butters. Cookie and candy recipes can be adapted successfully by substituting some or all of the nut butter with hempseed butter.

McHempy Meals

Forever gone are the days when a burger could only mean a piece of fried hamburger meat between two bleached white, fluffy buns. Good riddance. Now the latest organic plant source burger patty made from hempseeds is available at natural food and health stores. Easy to make, simply heat your hemp burger patty in a lightly oiled cast iron skillet or in the oven. Dress it up with all your favourite burger trimmings: shredded lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes, saut? mushrooms, pickles, organic ketchup, and Dijon mustard. Serve on a lightly toasted whole grain burger bun. Now enjoy some guilt-free, wholesome burger satisfaction.

Hempseed Protein

Evidence continues to mount that eating more plant-source protein and less protein from animal sources is healthier. Hempseeds are a well-utilized source of complete protein, supplying all the essential amino acids. Hemp protein also contains a unique plant protein component called edestin. Edestin is a globe shaped (globular) protein with the same structure as the enzymes, antibodies, and blood and hormone proteins in our bodies.

Cholesterol- and sodium-free, shelled hempseeds contain approximately 35 percent protein, 46 percent fat, and 12 percent carbohydrate. Hemp protein retains its natural macronutrient ratio of complex carbohydrates and essential fats.

Hempseed protein powders are a convenient source of a balanced ratio natural food which can be blended with water, fruit juice, or other nut milks to make energy shakes and nutritious smoothies for the whole family.

More Hemp Foods

Like the soy food revolution of the 80s and 90s, the race to create a vast array of animal-free hemp foods has started. Watch for more hemp foods; hemp milk, hemp cheese, hemp ice cream, hemp flour, and even hemp beer are all in the development line-up.

And don't worry, the only "high" you'll get from hemp foods and supplements comes from the satisfaction of knowing you are doing a good thing for your health while supporting Canadian organic hemp farmers and processors. Bon appetite, dude.



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