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Soy's new competition: hemp

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:31pm
I'm baaaa-aaack.



At the amazing organic writers' colony, they had hemp and rice and soy milk available, and I was trying to get people to try the hemp. Hemp is an environmental crop--it grows quickly and with little need of fertilizer--and thus I try to promote its use--and in particular it's annoying because IT IS BANNED in the U.S., (although hemp seeds can be imported from Canada). Many of our nation's forefathers grew hemp because it was a smart thing to do--provided food and fiber and didn't wear out the soil (hello, George Washington?) But it's banned here because of a silly, nonsensical association with druuuuuuuuugs, i.e., marijuana. Hemp products do not contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.



Hemp seeds have protein, fiber, and are also a good supplemental source of vegetarian Omega-3s, missing in soy and rice milk. Here's an article from the LA Times:



Soy's new competition: hemp

Hemp foods began filtering into grocery stores about five years ago, after the 1998 legalization of industrial hemp farming in Canada. The U.S. currently prohibits commercial cultivation of industrial hemp, but allows the import of seeds, oil, flour and other byproducts to be manufactured into ready-to-eat foods in the U.S.



The plant's shelled seed, or nut, can be added to baked goods and nutritional supplements and bars, sprinkled onto other foods such as salads and yogurt, or eaten alone as a snack. The seed can also be milled into flour, which can be used for baked goods, and pressed to make oil, which can be used in salad dressings, dips, spreads and sauces. (Due to its high unsaturated fat content, hemp oil must be refrigerated and is unsuitable for frying.)



...Hemp appeals to consumers for several reasons. It can be used as an alternative to soy products such as soy milk, which some people can't tolerate. Some people find hemp foods tasty. (We'll get to that in a minute.) Others are attracted to hemp's nutritional value. This may be its strongest draw.



The runty little nut, which resembles a sesame seed, does pack some stellar nutrients .



Two tablespoons of shelled hemp seeds contains 11 grams of protein, no cholesterol and, most important, about 2 grams of the very healthful unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).



Hemp oil also contains a good ratio — roughly 3 to 1 — of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s, says Barry Swanson, a professor in the food science and human nutrition department at Washington State University.



" That is an exceptional ratio, as far as balance is concerned, between omega 6s and omega 3s ," Swanson says.



Further, he says, hemp has other good constituents: "The gamma-linoleic acid [an omega-6] and stearidonic acid [an omega-3] in hemp are both things our body needs more of, that don't occur in very many food products."...


read more here
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