This consumer guide provides the information you need about buying this delicious seed product in NZ, along with what they are, how they’re made, and their many benefits to human health.
Hemp hearts are made from the seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp cannabis sativa has been cultivated for centuries as early as 6000 BC, and was cultivated in China for its seeds and oils for use in foods, found in many common menu items.
Hemp hearts are raw, hulled hemp seeds. People often eat them, as they are the soft, chewy center found inside the shell of the hemp seed. They have a subtle nutty flavor and can be consumed raw. Hemp seeds can be purchased whole for those who wish to get more fibre in their diet.
Hemp hearts are rich in omega fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are filled with healthy fats. A serving of 30 gram (3 tablespoons) has almost 15 grams of fat, of which 1.4 grams are saturated, 1.6 grams are monounsaturated, and 11.4 grams are polyunsaturated (omega-3 and omega-6). That’s half their weight in fat, with 30% of the remaining being rich in protein.
What health benefits do hemp hearts have?
Hemp hearts are very nutritious, and a great source of vitamin E and minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc. They are also a great source of plant-based hemp protein with roughly 25% of the calories coming from protein, which is quite high. Hemp heart protein is also a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids needed to rebuild and maintain.
These seeds have a place alongside some of your favorite dishes as a nutty topping, sprinkle them on salads, granola, cereal, or popcorn; smash them into a veggie burger; or blend them into smoothies.
Yes, they are legal in NZ. First, the hemp plant is first grown and then harvested. The seed is the only part that is not discarded. In New Zealand due to the legalities surrounding hemp consumption, only the seed may be used for human consumption. Luckily, water and rainfall levels in New Zealand are conducive to growing hemp.
The hemp seed is shelled to remove the outer fibrous layer, leaving the softer inner seed. This is what is considered a hemp heart.
You can purchase hemp hearts in NZ from most local supermarkets in the health food or baking aisles, or from a health food store.
Hemp hearts have a range of health benefits with their fatty acid rich profile, complete spectrum of all nine essential amino acids for protein, along with an impressive array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also used to make hemp milk.
They contain GLA (gamma-linoleic-acid), which supports healthy hair, nail and skin health. They're also high in alpha linolenic acid, a type of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fat that can reduce your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
They have the same level of protein as soybeans, which in roughly 30 grams (3 tablespoons), there’s 9.5 grams of protein. So about 30% of the weight is protein rich amino acids; the building blocks of healthy muscle, skin, hair and tissue.
Hemp based protein powder is largely made up of albumin, which most closely resembles the protein building blocks of our DNA. This makes plant based protein superior for building muscle tissue.
Soybeans have been well regarded for centuries for their complete protein, alongside hemp seeds, before the hemp plant was thrown in with marijuana and banned in 1930. These laws were later reviewed and since 2008, kiwi farmers have been growing hemp in NZ for it’s nutrient rich oils and other beneficial properties.
Given that hemp seeds are a complete plant-based source of protein, they make an excellent addition to a plant-based diet such as vegetarian or veganism. They’re an easy addition to most dishes, especially now with several hemp foods and beverages available from burgers to beer.
Fatty acids are crucial for human health, yet the body cannot produce them. Most of us understand by now that omega-3’s are vital for our own health and to that of human development, during gestation, breastfeeding and beyond, yet so few of us place importance on eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
But it’s not just the fatty acids we need, we also need the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 to be roughly 3:1 according to most experts. That means about 25% of the fatty acids (fats in our diet) need to be omega-3, to keep inflammation at bay and optimize healthy functioning (and development in babies and children).
This is especially important in the case of pregnant or breastfeeding women’s health as the body will simply use the mother’s stores of omega-3 to supply the developing baby. If a mother’s store of omega-3 becomes low, she’s the one who experiences the negative side effects of low omega-3 levels such as dry skin, hair and soft or brittle nails, rough patches of skin, attention and concentration problems, irritability, mood swings, energy and fatigue, poor sleep quality, and sore or stiff joints.
Hemp seeds also contain an impressive array of vitamins and minerals and are especially rich in:
They are also a good source of iron, zinc, and B vitamins, including:
Cannabdiol (CBD) is found inside the hemp plant, however, hemp hearts do not contain CBD due to the fact they are hemp seeds. CBD is found in other parts of the cannabis plant, but not in the seeds.
You cannot get high from the hemp seed as it does not contain any of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is found mostly in the bud of marijuana. Industrial hemp is also generally devoid of any THC due to legal limits keeping THC levels lower than 0.3% in most countries including New Zealand.
So there you have it. We hope this news has covered everything you need to know about this delicious hemp food.
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