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Staying #HealthyAtHome With Hemp During COVID-19

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

The COVID-19 health crisis has taken the globe by storm. With states issuing shelter-in-place orders, or in Kentucky, “Healthy at Home,” direction, many of us are finding our daily routines disrupted. Whether its work, childcare, or education, we’re having to figure out how to operate under these unprecedented circumstances, oftentimes neglecting what’s most important… our health.

Our mental, physical and emotional well-being should be a top priority. This can be difficult considering the enormous amount of stress and anxiety many of us are experiencing because of this pandemic. Stress and anxiety can weaken the immune system, lowering our body's defenses and creating an environment for illness thrive. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial we take steps to cultivate a healthy lifestyle for ourselves and for those around us.

Hemp products are just some of the many tools that can help you feel and look your best while navigating through daily challenges brought on by the coronavirus. Whether it's incorporating hemp foods into your daily diet, using hemp-infused body products, or taking hemp-derived supplements, the hemp plant can play a powerful role in your new healthy at-home routine. Here’s how:

Whole Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are produced when the male hemp plants pollenate the females, or when monoecious varieties (containing both male and female sexes) pollinate themselves. The tiny brown seed produced is considered a “superfood,” packed with protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids. Its rich nutritional profile provides a variety of potential health benefits, from antioxidant effects to heart, skin, and joint improvement.

  • Protein | Essential amino acids (EAAs) are the building blocks of protein. They are crucial in the synthesis of muscle growth and the prevention of muscle catabolism as well as mental health. The body cannot produce EAAs on its own, so we must get them through our diets. With all nine EAAs, hemp seeds are considered a complete source of plant-based protein. Hemp seeds are especially rich in an amino acid called arginine, which has benefits for the heart.

  • Healthy Fats | Like EAAs, essential fatty acids (EFAs), cannot be produced by the body. Of particular interest to our health are the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6). It has been estimated that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the typical Western diet is almost 10:1 due to increased use of vegetable oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids as well as reduced fish consumption. A deficiency in omega-3s could contribute to chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The hemp seed contains the ideal 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 EFAs to help create a better bodily balance. The gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6, found in hemp seeds has also been linked to reducing inflammation, which may decrease your risk of diseases like heart disease.

  • Fiber | Since whole hemp seeds have the outer shell intact, they have significantly more dietary fiber than shelled (hemp hearts). In particular, insoluble fiber. Dietary fiber is important for maintaining digestive health, helping to speed up the elimination of toxic waste through the colon and promote gut health. It also plays a role in lowering your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Hemp fiber can help curb your appetite and make you feel full, longer, without a significant amount of calories meaning it can help with weight control to help prevent or reduce obesity.

  • Vitamins and Minerals | According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), adult Americans do not typically get enough calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D, and E. The hemp seed contains significant amounts of phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and Vitamin E, along with iron, sodium, manganese, zinc, and vitamins B1 and B2. These are all vital for achieving optimal health.

Whole hemp seeds are crunchy with a nutty flavor and can be eaten whole, roasted or toasted, and tossed in salt or seasonings. They make a great addition to salads, pasta or quinoa dishes, or multi-seed bread and crackers. Some breweries even use them to make beer. While hemp seeds can be eaten whole, they can also be processed into a variety of by-products that are easily incorporated into foods, body care, or industrial products.

Hemp Hearts (Shelled Hemp Seeds)

Shelled hemp seeds, commonly called hemp hearts, are the soft inner part of the seed with the outer shells removed. They have a light nutty flavor and contain many of the benefits of the whole seed, without the added crunch from the shell. One serving of hemp hearts, approximately three tablespoons (30g), contains about 10g of protein, 11-12g of healthy fats and provides about 50% (210mg) of the daily recommended amount of magnesium. Since the shell is removed, there is significantly less fiber than the whole seed with just 1.2g.

Hemp hearts are the most popular hemp food by-product, and they can nutritionally enhance just about any meal without notice. Typically preferred over whole hemp seeds, the hearts make a great topping on salads, pasta, ice cream, yogurt, pudding, oatmeal, etc. They can also be added to cooked vegetables, falafel, burgers, hummus, pesto, baked goods, and desserts. Hemp hearts can also be used to make hemp butter, hemp milk, and hemp crusts.

Non-Dairy Hemp Milk

While it isn’t a direct by-product of the seed, hemp milk is a delicious plant-based, nut-free alternative to dairy milk. Compared to other non-dairy milks, like soy or almond, hemp is the top pick for calcium content with one 8-ounce serving supplying nearly 45% of the recommended daily allowance. Like hemp hearts, it’s also rich in heart-healthy fatty acids. Since hemp milk is nut-free and produced from a non-GMO crop, it is also less likely to cause allergies or various health issues associated with soy.

Typically made with just two ingredients, hemp hearts and water, hemp milk is easy to make at home and can be enhanced with natural sweeteners or flavors. It has a light nutty taste and sits somewhere between almond and soy milk texture-wise, depending on how much water is added. Hemp milk can be enjoyed on its own, in cereal, smoothies, shakes, or used in place of dairy milk in just about any recipe. Coffee lovers suggest it produces better “latte art” than soy.