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Hemp, the Perfect Plant Protein

I know there is some confusion on what hemp actually is and what differentiates it from cannabis. Hemp comes from the same family of plants as Cannabis sativa, however, the type of hemp that is used for industrial purposes and human consumption has been bred to contain very low levels of the active ingredient in marijuana and higher levels of fiber, oil or seed. Hemp seeds are very nutritious, containing nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp not only has a high protein content, but its protein is more easily digested and absorbed than other plant-based proteins. 91–98% of the protein in ground hemp seed is digestible. This means that your body can use almost all of the amino acids in hemp protein for important bodily functions, such as repair and maintenance. It's also high in fiber and essential fatty acids and its protein is more soluble than other plant-based proteins, making it an easy addition to your morning smoothie or oatmeal.

In addition to high-quality protein, fiber and essential fatty acids, hemp seeds also contain a handful of micronutrients that help keep your body healthy. These minerals work together synergistically to provide other various hemp seeds benefits. Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium work together to keep your bones and teeth strong, while iron makes sure your red blood cells stay healthy. Zinc and manganese make up the foundation of many enzymes, which are proteins that are vital to ensuring that necessary chemical reactions are carried out in your body.

A three tablespoon serving of hemp seeds contains:

20 milligrams of calcium

3.6 milligrams of iron

180 milligrams of magnesium

450 milligrams of phosphorus

3 milligrams of zinc

2.1 milligrams of manganese

Hemp hearts can be purchased at most grocery stores, and at health food markets everywhere. They can be easily incorporated into your regular routine. I sprinkle the hearts on my salads as the nutty crunch adds a great dimension to my greens. I also add several tablespoons to my morning oatmeal, along with almonds, dried cranberries, honey, ginger and cinnamon. You can also eat them by themselves as a nutty snack. Mix in your yogurt or kefir, it adds a nice nutty flavor and boosts the protein so you stay full longer. You can add to green smoothies and to granola. Add to soups and chili and any other meal you eat hot in a bowl. Sprinkled on top of a fruit salad is super yummy also. Add to baked goods like muffins or pancakes. The sky is the limit!

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