Hemp, the seedy truth

The 12th of November 2017 is a day that will go down in history. But today is the day that foods made from hemp seed are able to be sold in Australia and New Zealand. The rest of the world caught onto this many years ago, but Food Standards Australian and NZ have been dragging their feet for many years and have finally given in to the overwhelming pressure to allow us to eat it.

Why all the excitement? Firstly, hemp seeds (AKA hemp hearts) are a very nutritious food containing more protein than flax seeds or chia seeds, about 30% fat, plenty of vitamin A and E along with the minerals phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron and zinc. Need any more convincing?

The Chinese have apparently been using these seeds for at least 3,000 years, the protein in hemp seeds is considered complete as it has all the essential amino acids (great news for the vegans out there), there’s omega 6 with and omega 3 in good ratios (although the 3 is the less preferred version ALA) and there’s plenty of fiber, both soluble and insoluble versions, to aid in digestion.

So what are the down sides? Are there any? Are you likely to get a high off them?

Like any other food that is high in polyunsaturated fats, there is the risk of digestive issues as our digestive tracts struggle to cope with so much. If you do notice some diuretic effects, just back off on the consumption and build up from about 1tsp to the recommended dose of 2tbs or just below bowel tolerance.

There is no narcotic effect from hemp seeds (sorry to disappoint some of you), but the amounts of THC found in the seeds is quite negligible and you would have to eat a massive amount meaning there would be a massive gut ache rather than a high. My advice, if you really must, stick with the smoking! It’s probably cheaper too.

There will be some other hemp products on the market too like hemp oils. Like any seed oil, I would advise to proceed with caution as many oils today are made with questionable processes which may involve high heat and some chemicals in the extraction process. As the oils in hemp seeds are of the polyunsaturated variety, this means that they are prone to oxidation from heat, light and oxygen. I would advise that you use only the whole seeds (they will be hulled) and keep them away from heat sources. So if you want to add them to your cooked food, add them afterwards so you’re not overly heating the seeds.

When buying your seeds, stick with Australian grown. Not just to be patriotic or supporting local business, but quite often imported seeds are sprayed or irradiated when coming into the country. Using Australian grown means a better chance of getting a good, healthy product.

Apart from that, get some hemp into your diet and enjoy the experience!

Run Well

Chris O’Driscoll

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