A new age fad, the term superfood is trending and amassing traffic in google as well as in retail & household shelves. So what are superfoods and why is there so much chatter around them? Have we been consuming the wrong foods all along?
A superfood is nutrient dense food containing a high amount of micro and macro-nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, omegas etc. In other words, they are powerhouse of nutrition. These foods have been part of staple diets of all regions in various forms, however have now been coined as something special as new age science backs up all the reasons with evidence. Most of these plant based superfoods although consumed in the past, had lost their way once the meat & dairy industry exploded into its being promising that it was the solution for the worlds hunger and nutrition. Plant based superfoods are now making their inroads back into our diets to the exposed fallacies of the arguments made by the meat & dairy industry.
While people in many parts of India especially Uttar Pradesh, Himachal, Orissa have traditionally consumed hemp seeds in the form of chutneys, toasted hemp seeds or nubs (shelled hemp seeds) for centuries. Hemp / cannabis being banned during the majority of the industrialization phase in India, across the globe, word about the benefits of hemp seeds never got out.
Nutritional breakdown of hemp seeds says that the seeds contain 42% of fats, 30% of protein and 18% of carbs. Our body needs essential fatty acids (EFAs) that cannot be produced by humans and can only be obtained through diet. Dietary supplements with oils that contain EFAs and other poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) help in promoting healthy development. The seed oil obtained from hemp seeds constitutes of over 90% in unsaturated fats that reduce risks of heart diseases. It is a rich source of two essential fatty acids (EFAs), linolic acid, also known as Omega 6 and alpha linoleic acid, also known as Omega 3. Optimal Omega6/ omega 3 ratio is between 2:1 and 3:1 and its imbalance has leads to various diseases like CVH, cholesterol etc. The omega 6: Omega 3 ratio in hemp seeds is nearly 2.5:1 which is a rarity; whereas for flax seeds, the ratio is 0.2 and for soybean 7. Hemp seed oil is a perfect plant- based source of omega-3 fatty acids (ALAs) which can only be derived from plant based sources. ALAs are also converted by our body to EPA & DHA omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for the body.
The hemp seed protein primarily contains edestin and albumin. Both high storage proteins have all 9 essential amino acids (which our body can’t produce) and are easily digested, resulting in efficient nutrient absorption. Hemp has a similar amino acid profile to soy and egg white protein and is therefore considered a high-quality protein. Plant based complete protein sources are scarce in nature, making hemp seeds a very valuable addition to vegan or vegetarian diets (in-fact any diet).
Raw Hemp seeds have 50% dietary fiber which supports normal bowel movement and stabilize blood sugar levels. Hemp seeds are also rich in Vitamin E and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron and Zinc.
Hemp seeds can be consumed directly raw, toasted or as an ingredient to produce a variety of food products like sandwich spreads, dips, nutrition bars, protein powders for regular consumption and athletic consumption, chutneys, pesto, most of which you will soon find at Hemptyful!