Hope everyone had a great weekend. Did you all enjoy the post by one of the wonderful Whitty Nutrition volunteers last week? Some of the other ladies are working on some exciting projects and blog posts as well!
Oh! And what about the awesome photos by my wonderful friend Miranda of Miranda Lynn Photography? If you are a Manitoba local and want an amazing photographer for an engagement, wedding, baby, or business photo shoot definitely look her up! Her website is currently under construction to add more awesome-ness but check her out on facebook by clicking THIS link!
Let me know what you think of the website and blog changes! Always love to hear your feedback :)
So this week's topic stemmed from a wonderful little free sample I received in the mail last week from Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods. I LOVE free samples, especially when they're food! There are some perks to being a dietitian that's for sure :) Now, this sample wasn't my first encounter with hemp hearts and in fact I have a half empty bag in my cupboard right now but still ... FREE SAMPLES! It also inspired me to do a little digging on the benefits of hemp hearts to share with you all (it helped that Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods included a nice little summary about their product as well).
Picture retrieved from: http://manitobaharvest.com/category/13/Hemp-Hearts.html
So what are hemp hearts exactly?
Hemp hearts are raw shelled hemp seeds that come from yes, the cannabis plant family. And yes, by cannabis, I mean marijuana plants. But hold on a minute, just to be clear, the industrial plants used to produce hemp hearts contain very low levels of THC (the psychoactive ingredient responsible for the effects of marijuana) and eating hemp hearts will not make you experience any sort of 'high'. 1
There are many reasons to try out hemp hearts as a part of your regular diet - here are just a few.
1) Hemp hearts contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Both of these fatty acids are 'essential,' which means your body cannot produce them on it's own. The omega-3 content is of particular interest since this is a nutrient that many people who don't eat fish regularly, may be lacking. Keep in mind that unfortunately, the omega-3 content of hemp seeds is in the form alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Without boring you with the metabolic details, this means that your body has to turn the ALA content into a more useful form into the body (DHA & EPA) which it can only do in limited capacity. Fish is still your best bet for maximizing you omega-3 intake, however every little bit helps! 2
These essentially fatty acids are important for health and play many roles in brain, nerve, and eye development in infants, helping to prevent and treat heart disease, possibly reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and perhaps playing a role in the prevention of dementia although more research is needed in this area. 3
2) Hemp hearts are a COMPLETE, plant-based protein
If you forget what you learned in THIS post about complete vs. incomplete proteins I'll give you a quick reminder. Complete proteins, are proteins that contain all essential amino acids. In other words, they have all the building blocks your body needs to build and repair cells, maintain a healthy immune system, form hormones and enzymes, and basically keep your body happy and healthy! Pretty important stuff! 4,5
Many plant-based foods have incomplete proteins, which means they are lacking some essential amino acids. This can present a problem for vegetarians that don't consume meat which is a large source of complete protein in many people's diets. It is important that vegetarians consume a variety of foods that contain COMPLIMENTARY amino acids (to ensure they are getting them all), or focus on eating enough complete plant-based proteins - such as hemp hearts! 4,5
Hemp hearts not only have all of the amino acids we need to stay healthy, but they serve them up in a pretty good dose. Only 3 Tbsp of hemp hearts contributes a whopping 10 g of protein - that's pretty impressive!
3) Hemp hearts are a good source of fibre
Once again, if you've forgotten what THIS post taught you about fibre (or THIS post) - I'll remind you. Fibre is an amazing, indigestible carbohydrate that has many health benefits include keeping you 'regular,' reducing bad cholesterol, and helping to manage hunger and blood sugar levels. 4
A 3 Tbsp serving of hemp hearts as 3 grams of Fibre! That's more than an entire BOWL of some cereals (think Rice Krispies).
4) Hemp hearts taste great and are easy to add into a variety of dishes
If you've never tried hemp hearts, I think you'll be in for a pleasant surprise. Hemp hearts have a nutty, earthy taste, a soft chewy texture, and blend well into foods like oatmeal, cereal, homemade granola bars, yogurt, and even casseroles, salads, and sauces.
Other things I love about hemp hearts (especially those by Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods) is that they are grown locally and sustainably, are a great meat alternative that is also acceptable for my vegan friends, come in an organic variety for those so inclined, and are easy to access since they are available in most grocery stores.
Some things to keep in mind
Now that I've just spent all this time praising the benefits of hemp hearts I do want to mention a few things you may want to keep in mind. Hemp hearts, although a wonderful source of many vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, are also very calorie dense because of their high healthy fat content. Those 3 Tbsp we talked about earlier pack a punch at 170 calories, which means that it's important to stick to a small serving size with this product. More isn't always better, so use hemp hearts regularly for their many benefits, but don't eat 1 cup at a time!
Another reason to keep your serving size small? Hemp hearts come with a fairly hefty price tag at some retailers averaging around $10.00 for an 8 serving bag. Look to stock up when the product is on sale and remember that small health food stores often have a higher prices than other larger retailers.
Oh! And once opened remember to keep your hemp hearts in the fridge or freezer in order to preserve freshness!
Remember that many other nuts and seeds will have similar health benefits to hemp hearts, however giving them a try to add some flavor, variety, and nutrition into your daily routine receives this dietitian's stamp of approval!2
To learn more about Manitoba hemp hearts and other hemp products, check out the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods website by clicking HERE.
They also have a cool pinterest page, a facebook page, and a youtube channel.
They had a great video on their website that I included below for your viewing pleasure! Hope you'll learn something new from this post - I know I sure did while writing it!
Oh, and ps. - No I don't work for Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods and I was not compensated by them for writing this blog nor sharing my opinions. Just a dietitian who appreciates a great, local product . . . oh and of course free samples ;)
1) Health Canada. About hemp & Canada's hemp industry. (2012, November 30). Retrieved June 20, 2015, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca.proxy2.lib.umanitoba.ca/hc-ps/substancontrol/hemp-chanvre/about-apropos/faq/index-eng.php#a6
2)Callaway, J. (2004). Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview. Euphytica, 140(1-2), 65-72. doi:10.1007/s10681-004-4811-6
3) Dietitians of Canada. (2013)Eating guidelines for omega-3 fats. Practice Based Evidence in Nutrition. Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://www.pennutrition.com.proxy2.lib.umanitoba.ca/viewhandout.aspx?Portal=UbY=&id=JMbrUAM=&PreviewHandout=bA==
4. Mahan, L. Kathleen., Escott-Stump, Sylvia., Raymond, Janice L.Krause, Marie V. (Eds.) (2012) Krause's food & the nutrition care process /St. Louis, Mo. : Elsevier/Saunders,
5. Smith, D. (2015, June 3). The ultimate guide to protein supplements. Retrieved June 22, 2015, from http://greatist.com/fitness/protein-supplement-nutrition-guide