There’s no denying that hemp foods (a derivative of the cannabis seed) have received a lot of airtime in the health and wellness world as of late. Said to have an extensive list of nutritional benefits, hemp foods have been commercially available in countries such as the US, Canada, UK and other parts of Europe for many years now.
Although (extremely) late to the party, changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (FSANZ) now allow for hemp food products to be sold legally in Australia as of November 12, 2017.
Prior to this, hemp fell under a classification that prohibited all species of cannabis from being added to or sold as a food product, seeing items such as hemp seed oil fall under the beauty category with labels warning against human consumption.
Previous proposals for making hemp foods commercially available in Australia have been rejected by state and federal health ministers since 2002, fearing that it would interfere with drug testing. It was soon discovered that the low THC levels found in hemp foods will not affect readings in any way nor are the negligible traces of the chemical compound enough to make you high.
Queensland Health states that “it would be difficult for anyone who produces a positive THC test result from a police roadside drug test to successfully argue that the presence of THC in their oral fluid sample was solely a result of eating low THC hemp seed foods.”
Despite these findings, not all Aussies are convinced when it comes to the safety of hemp foods, with a recent national survey conducted by Thompson’s and Galaxy Research revealing that 39% of Australian adults believe that hemp food can impair your state of mind. Furthermore, results indicate that 36% of those surveyed didn’t even know hemp foods can be eaten and only 6% were aware that they have any nutritional benefits at all.
In line with these statistics, leading Nutritionist and Chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin is on a mission to educate Australians about the many benefits hemp seeds provide as part of a healthy diet—and debunk any myths that may cause people to miss out on what is arguably, one of the most nutritious foods now available in Australia.
“It is important to know that while hemp foods are derived from the seed of the [marijuana] plant, hemp seeds contain only a very small amount (<0.5%) of the psychoactive element THC, so they aren’t going to affect/alter your state of mind in any way,” Zoe further explains. “I was quite surprised at just how many people have misconceptions about hemp foods,” Zoe goes on to say. “Hemp seeds are actually one of the best-kept secrets for healthy eating. From a nutrition point of view, they are chock full of protein, fibre and essential fatty acids that help keep our bodies functioning at their peak! I’m so excited to see Australia finally catching up to other parts of the world in realising the nutritional benefits of hemp foods.”
Containing more protein per 100g than both chia or flax seeds, hemp seeds are considered a “complete protein” which will not only improve satiety but also assist in muscle repair post exercise.
“Hemp is a great plant-based source of essential fatty acids (EFA). They actually contain all 20 EFA’s including Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 in the perfect ratio (3:1) needed for our bodies to process. We don’t naturally produce essential fatty acids within the human body, which is why it’s important that we get them from our diet.”
The seed has a ‘nutty’ flavour and is fully digestible, meaning that it can be consumed directly without heating or soaking. When it comes to incorporating hemp foods into your diet, Zoe suggests sprinkling the seeds on your breakfast cereal or mixing hemp protein powder into your smoothies or baked goods (ha). The high fat content resembles the creaminess of an avocado so it’s a great addition to many different recipes, both sweet and savoury.
Hemp foods can also be added to bliss balls or toasted as a topping for salads or crust for fish or chicken—and if you’re feeling extra creative you can even use them to make hemp seed milk as a substitute to dairy.
It’s packed full of soluble and insoluble fibre which can assist in digestive health and contains vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc (just to name a few).
Geez, talk about an overachiever.
“Besides their many nutritional benefits, hemp seeds are also low allergy, naturally free from gluten and great for anyone who is allergic to nuts,” Zoe adds. “They are also appropriate for both vegans and vegetarians.”
So there you have it! Are you ready to start incorporating hemp foods into your diet? The Thompson’s Hemp Seed Range is now available to try from pharmacies and health food stores across Australia. Visit https://thompsonsnutrition.com.au/ for more.