Can hemp seeds get you high?
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Raw hemp seed chocolate fudge balls are a high-protein snack. Photo: Supplied
- Should this superfood be illegal?
Hemp seed sales are on the rise. The seeds taste delicious, are highly nutritious yet come with a whiff of illegality.
Two stockists contacted by Fairfax Media were too nervous to be named in this article.
”I’ve heard of recent crackdowns on retailers,” said one.
Hemp seeds are readily available in shops, but trade occurs on a ”don’t ask, don’t tell” basis. It is illegal to sell them for human consumption. They can be sold as ingredients for a facial scrub, for example, but a shopkeeper can’t sell them to a customer who divulges an intention to sprinkle them on cornflakes. This is despite no evidence that you can get high on hemp seeds or hemp-seed oil.
”Drink as much hemp-seed oil as you like. It’s not going to happen,” says one retailer who is often asked about its powers.
”Hemp contains no or very low levels of THC, the chemical associated with the psychoactive properties of marijuana,” according to Food Standards Australia New Zealand. The authority says hemp seeds do, however, contain protein, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. FSANZ considers hemp to have THC levels sufficiently low to make it safe for consumption.
A ministerial review about the legality of hemp seed, taking into account the FSANZ position, was due to conclude last week, but is now expected to go on until later this year. The last review was in 2002, when health ministers rejected a bid to legalise food derived from hemp, saying it could send a confused message to consumers and could affect drug-testing results.
”We have to position them at a certain place in the store,” explains one retailer. ”That’s why they’re with the cleaning products, rather than with the rest of our superfoods.”
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Hemp seed tastes delicious and are highly nutritious. Here’s a recipe for raw hemp-seed chocolate fudge protein balls. But beware, they come with a whiff of …
You Can’t Get High from Hemp Seeds, but You Can Get Healthy
Cannabis is in the news these days with a heady layer of hype concerning marijuana’s new legal status in Colorado and Washington state. But perhaps marijuana’s cousin, the hemp seed, should be in the spotlight, too for its beneficial effects on health. More superfood than psychoactive, hemp seeds have been around for most of human civilization. They contain no THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the active substance in marijuana that makes you feel high (and later, hungry). Hemp seeds don’t give you the munchies – in fact they squelch your hunger, thanks to a nutritional profile high in fiber, fat and protein.
Hemp seeds are heavy with oil, which make up half of their weight and consist of 80 percent essential fatty acids. One tablespoon of hemp oil each day provides all the essential fatty acids you need, including an ideal balance of omega-6 and omega-3. Essential fatty acids protect the heart and brain, lower triglycerides, reduce inflammation and bolster the immune system. Because of hemp seeds’ fatty acid profile, some people consider hemp seeds as the perfect food.
Protein makes up another one-third of the weight, and every two tablespoons of hemp seeds contains 5 grams of digestible protein. Low in carbohydrates, they also can be a part of low-carb and Paleo diets.
However, hemp has gotten a bad rap in many modern cultures do to its association with marijuana. While many people, including President Obama, ascertain that marijuana is no worse than alcohol, others still connect hemp and marijuana with a cloud of reefer-madness and bleary-eyed hippies. That’s unfortunate, because hemp has been cultivated and consumed since the dawn of civilization. It may have even been one of the very first domesticated crops. Hemp was used for medicine, clothes, ropes, paper, fuel and building materials for centuries until it was banned out of association with marijuana – which is a totally different breed of cannabis altogether.
Hemp seeds are used to create seasoning mixes, hemp cheese, hemp milk and other dairy-like products. You can use them at home in all kinds of recipes and as a topper to dishes like salads and oatmeal. With a mild, nutty taste and creamy texture, hemp seeds are an easy addition to many dishes – and an easy way to increase your intake of essential fatty acids.
Hemp seeds are usually sold raw and hulled. Because of their high oil content, hemp seeds will oxidize and turn rancid in a very short period of time. They should always be stored in a dark, airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
Here are some ideas how you can eat hemp seeds and incorporate more essential fatty acids into your diet:
– Sprinkle in a fruit smoothie
– Top off your oatmeal or hot cereal breakfast
– Blend into rice pilafs
– Add to baked goods: breads, pancakes and desserts
– Combine with oats etc. to make granola
– Use to top off fresh green salads
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Hemp seeds won’t get you a buzz like their cousin marijuana, but they will get you healthy.