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Food in focus: Hemp seeds

Dubbed a super food, hemp seeds are rich in protein, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. But with small traces of THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis), you might be wondering if they are safe to eat.

Is hemp the same as cannabis?
Cannibus species low in THC (or delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) are typically known as hemp and contain little to no THC (up to 0.5%).

Hemp seeds come specifically from the plant Cannibus sativa, which is not the same as the marijuana plant, although they are part of the same Cannibus family.

The use of hemp in foods is highly regulated. In fact, of the low THC varieties permitted for use in Australia and New Zealand, it’s impossible for hemp seeds to have any psychoactive effect – regardless of how much you consume.

Are hemp seeds healthy?
Hemp seeds have been recommended for their health benefits for centuries - they were first mentioned as a medication in ancient Egyptian text.

They’re considered a minimally processed whole food and are a valuable source of iron, zinc and magnesium. The seeds may also play a role in promoting good skin health because they’re rich in plant based omega 3 essential fats – even richer than walnuts.

Hemp seeds are known to be a good source of high quality protein and provide 9.9g of protein per 30g serve (most nuts offer between 2-6g of protein per 30g serve). They also contain beneficial phytochemicals and antioxidant compounds that may help to lower blood pressure.

Are hemp seeds safe to eat?
There are no harmful or psychoactive effects from eating low THC hemp seeds. They provide a valuable source of key nutrients that support good health. In terms of taste, low THC seeds offer a delicious nutty flavour and can easily be added to salads, smoothies, soups and sauces and even sprinkled on peanut butter with toast.

Hemp seeds can be purchased online or found in health food stores around New Zealand. Check out our Lemon Coconut Quinoa Porridge recipe with hemp seeds here.