The hemp or bhang shrub is one of the oldest plants providing usable fibre. The seeds have been used as food by the native communities of Uttarakhand and Himachal from time immemorial.
Canada, France and China are major producers of hemp. Once banned, the US has legalised the growing of hemp and the UK has followed suit as it is now used as medicine to alleviate many ailments, even cancer, much to the chagrin of the pharmaceutics!
A winter crop, the hemp seeds are harvested in late autumn and shall soon find its way into the health food stores of Mumbai and Delhi. An insight into the amazing nutritional value will prompt you to include this wonder seed on your kitchen shelf!
Hemp Seeds are Packed with Nutrition:
- The seeds are high in plant protein; 3 tablespoons of the seeds have 9.45 g protein. They are a complete source of protein i.e. they provide all the 9 essential amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks of all proteins. The body cannot produce all nine of these acids so a person must absorb them through the diet. Especially rich in the amino acid called arginine which benefits heart health hemp is essential for the elderly.
- Unsaturated Fats. Hemp seeds are a source of omega 3 & 6 fatty acids and also provide a balance of these acids. These fatty acids help regulate blood pressure, reduce triglycerides and slow development of plaque formation in arteries. It also promotes skin and hair health.
- The seeds have a lot of fibre. Consuming these fibre rich seeds helps reduce appetite, helps in weight management, stabilizes blood sugar levels and promotes health of the gut. Though it is best to purchase unhulled hemp seeds but sadly, what is sold in the health food stores are hemp hearts which are hulled and thus devoid of the fibre.
- Vitamin E is a major ingredient of the seeds. Hemp oil and hemp powder are used in the cosmetic industry.
- The seeds are also rich in phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, iron, zinc and vitamin B.
Benefits of Hemp Seeds:
Adding the seeds to your diet will give immense benefits, usually visible in a month’s time.
- Roast hemp seeds and sprinkle either whole or ground on cereal. Hemp hearts, which are hulled, are not roasted but you lose out on the fibre.
- Roast the seeds and grind along with salt. Use this salt on yogurt, salads, or even with generous ghee and Ragi rotis like the hill folks of Uttarakhand!
- Make a potent protein drink with hemp milk. 1/2 cup of hemp seeds ground with 2 cups of water gives a thick, creamy milk. It can be sweetened with honey or you can add dates while grinding them. This milk can be easily prepared with hemp hearts. Use this milk for your cereal or drink it plain. People in the hills use this milk when preparing cabbage, cauliflower, yam, mooli and mustard greens giving them the much-required warmth in the harsh winters.
While is has not yet gained popularity here, in the west bottled hemp milk is sold in health food stores. But what could be better than homemade fresh milk! Do try folks and let me know.
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