7 ways to include Hemp in your diet

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A versatile superfood, hemp can be incorporated into meals in a variety of ways from poha, upma to shakes and smoothies.

Hemp has been used in Ayurveda since time immemorial. It is said that it was found in Himalayas and also finds mention in Vedas as one of the five sacred plants. Also used to make various narcotics, its bad reputation has overshadowed its popularity as a medicine and a superfood. This powerful ancient plant, however, can be used however for treatment of many health issues be it arthritis, piles, insomnia, whooping coughs among others. Hemp has made a comeback in recent years and courtesy its rich nutritional profile is now being recognised as a superfood. (Also read: Arthritis to piles; lesser-known health benefits of cannabis or bhang revealed by Ayurveda expert)

"Hemp seeds, similar to chia or flax seeds, are a natural and vegan source to replenish the body with important nutrients. Brimming with omega fatty acids, essential amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, hemp seeds are proven to improve brain and heart health and provide nourishment to the skin and hair. Due to their multifaceted applications and enhanced bioavailability, they are increasingly being touted as the go-to superfood for daily wellbeing," says Dr. Harshad Jain, Ayurvedic Medical Practitioner, Bombay Hemp Company, BOHECO.

A versatile superfood, hemp can be incorporated into meals in a variety of ways:

1. Consume it raw

You can simply consume 1 tablespoon of hemp oil twice a day. Its nutrition dense formulation aids in balancing hormones, strengthening immunity, lowering cholesterol levels, and much more. Similarly, hemp seeds can be consumed raw as well. They function as a healthy snack and can be munched upon while getting through the day.

2. Include it in your breakfast

Hemp hearts have a light nutty flavour and are a rich source of fibre. They are known to boost energy levels, enhance muscle function and curb untimely cravings. Sprinkling a spoonful of these over a warm bowl of oatmeal, poha or upma, or adding them to your granola bars, will cover your daily intake of hemp and set you up for the day.

3. Blend into shakes and smoothies

Hemp seeds might look tiny, but they are loaded with protein and can instantly elevate the taste and protein levels of your smoothies. 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain about 9.5 grams of protein, which is more than what can be found in one egg. Blending the powder into your juices, smoothies and shakes is the perfect way to fuel yourself before and after workouts.

4. Hemp for baking

Hemp can be included in various ways in one’s diet, and a great way to do that is by mixing it in batters while baking. Adding hemp seeds to whole wheat muffins or various breads and biscuits is a healthy addition to your baked goods. Since hemp is plant-based, it is even suitable for people looking for vegan substitutes while baking.

5. Hemp milk

It is not widely known, but milk can be made using hemp seeds. Like any other plant-based milk, hemp milk can be made at home and it is fairly easy to do so. Blending hemp hearts with water in a 1:2 ratio gives you organic, nutritious milk which can be added to coffees, teas or smoothie bowls.

6. Hemp protein powder

You can get hemp protein powder from a variety of brands these days. Unlike Whey protein, hemp powder is completely organic, natural and vegan. It is loaded with proteins Edestin and Albunim, making it more bioavailable and 91-98% more digestible compared to other plant-based proteins. The powder can be blended with milk or water as a part of your diet. Additionally, a dash of it can be added to whole wheat or refined wheat flour to make healthy chapatis, or for baking a batch of healthy, protein-rich desserts.

7. Hemp seed oil

Another variation of hemp is hemp seed oil, which is derived by cold pressing hemp seeds. It is a light, non-greasy, highly nutritious oil containing a healthy dose of fibre, iron, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, magnesium and vitamins, and can be drizzled over salads, dips or pasta to give a healthy boost to regular meals. It can even be used to make pesto and hummus, cauliflower or potato mash, and as a condiment wherever possible.

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