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Healthy Eating for Women

Five Ways to Enjoy Hemp Seeds

Here’s why you need this quality protein source on your shopping list.

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First things first: Yes, hemp seeds (or hemp hearts) do come from a particular variety of Cannabis sativa (aka marijuana), but they only contain trace amounts of THC and therefore will not get you high. Whether or not this is bad news for you, these seeds are still nutritional powerhouses. Here are five ways to enjoy this versatile food.

1. As a protein-packed pudding

Hemp is a complete protein, containing all 20 amino acids needed to build and repair the tissues in the body. Just 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of hemp hearts provides 9.2 grams of protein.

Power Pudding: In a Mason jar, layer ¼ cup cooked quinoa, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 2 tablespoons hemp hearts, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Cover with ½ cup light coconut milk and ¼ cup water, and top with ½ banana, sliced. Seal and place in the fridge overnight.

2. As a PM-preventative sauce

Premenstrual syndrome is believed to be caused in part by a sensitivity to the hormone prolactin. Hemp contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which has been found to reduce the effects of prolactin, and in one study, women taking a supplement that contained 210 milligrams of GLA showed a measurable decrease in PMS symptoms.

Hemp P(MS)esto: Add 2 cups fresh basil, ¼ cup hemp hearts, 2 tablespoons avocado oil, 1 clove garlic, ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional) and sea salt (to taste) to a food processor and process until smooth. Serve over spiralized vegetable noodles.

3. As a Pre- or Post-Training Treat

Hemp contains L-arginine, which is a precursor to nitric oxide. NO dilates blood vessels, which enhances blood flow, improves oxygenation of tissues, reduces inflammation and promotes recovery. NO also improves overall mitochondrial health, slowing the aging process.

Tri-Hemp Protein Balls

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • ¾ cup chocolate hemp protein powder
  • ½ cup peanut or almond butter, smooth
  • ½ cup hemp hearts
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened plain hemp milk 
  • 3 tbsp mini-chocolate chips (optional)

Add all ingredients except milk to a food processor and process until almost combined. Add milk and mix until a dough is formed. Roll dough into balls. Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to one week (or up to three months frozen).

4. As a hunger-smashing sprinkle

Hemp contains 2 grams of soluble fiber per ounce, which contributes to meal satiety and acts as an appetite suppressant. Soluble fiber also feeds the probiotics living in your gut, improving immunity and GI health.

Sprinkle onto salads, yogurt, oatmeal or smoothies for an extra pop of fiber.

5. As an omega-rich add-in

Hemp oil is one of the healthiest around, containing 75 to 80 percent polyunsaturated fats and an ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Because our bodies cannot produce these two essential omegas, we must ingest them, and getting enough means better brain function, healthier cell membranes and increased energy. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids break down easily when heated, so don’t cook with hemp oil; instead, use it to top salads, popcorn, pasta or veggies.