Hemp: A super food?

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Published December 13, 2012

| FoxNews.com

Hemp is a low THC variety of the plant Cannabis sativa, which is also known as marijuana. While marijuana is psychoactive and imparts a high, hemp does not do so. You cannot get high using hemp in any manner, regardless of the quantity.

Hemp is a crop that has been grown since antiquity, and the fiber made from hemp cloth is a major component of the U.S. Constitution, the original United States flags, and virtually all sail cloth up until the last fifty years or so. Henry Ford once built a car, the body of which was made largely of hemp plastic, which was as strong as steel.

During World War II, the United States had a nationwide program and government-sponsored black and white film entitled “Hemp for Victory,” which implored all American farmers to grow hemp as a crop to supply the U.S. military with badly needed rope, cordage and cloth. To an extent, hemp made a great contribution to the Allied war effort in World War II.

Hemp provides high quality fiber for the purposes of cord and cloth, and makes an excellent source of biomass for ethanol production. Hemp clothing is almost impossible to wear out, and hemp paper is remarkably strong and durable. Hemp does not require pesticides to thrive, making it an excellent crop from an environmental standpoint. Though the plant’s cultivation is not allowed in the U.S., it is cultivated in China, Canada, Chile and North Korea on a commercial scale, and so hemp products are available on the world market.

When mature, hemp yields an abundance of seeds. In India, I have seen sacks of these seeds in the markets, where people purchase them to cook into vegetables to boost the taste and nutritional value of a wide variety of dishes. In parts of Siberia and far northwestern China, I have driven past vast tracts of hemp that stretch on for hundreds of miles at a time. Today in the U.S., hemp seed products – such as so-called “hemp nuts,” hemp seed butters, hemp seed energy bars, hemp seed meal, hemp oil and even hemp seed milks – are widely available in natural food stores.

Hemp seed has a pleasing flavor, not dissimilar from many other nuts. Rich in complete protein and an excellent source of healthy oils – including vegetarian omega-3 fatty acids – hemp provides superior nutrition with very good taste. Hemp protein is high in globulins, types of proteins that enhance the immune system. Hemp seed butters, much like peanut or almond butters, can be used liberally on toast or employed in baked goods. The primary difference with hemp butter is its rich green color.

Hemp oil is also available today and makes a very good addition to salad dressings or in cooking. The oil has a pleasant, nutty flavor and is a versatile food. Hemp seed milks are beneficial to those who are lactose intolerant but still enjoy a “milk” of some type in cereal or coffee. Hemp seed milk is good as a base in a smoothie.  

Many websites provide recipes for incorporating hemp seed products into the daily diet. You can find recipes for baked goods, desserts and other foods through a quick search.

Hemp seed is low in sodium, contains absolutely no cholesterol, is a good source of the mineral zinc, and provides a total of about 175 calories in 30 grams of shelled nuts. You will find many good hemp seed products on the market. Incorporating hemp in your diet can boost your nutrition and make a valuable contribution to your health.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide.  His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at www.MedicineHunter.com

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