In traditional India, hemp products such as the seeds, aka 'hemp hearts', and hemp 'nubs' (shelled hemp seeds) were actively consumed by people for years as a food product, cooking accomplice, or using the seed to extract oil. However, urban Indians have recently been acquainted with the multiple nutritional benefits associated with the hemp plant. In fact, companies today are calling hemp seeds a superfood because of their high nutritional value and are trading in packaged hemp food products.
The hemp crop undergoes organic growth without the use of pesticides or herbicides. It is also a multipurpose crop that can also be used in crop rotation to eradicate pesticide effects, soil remediation, weeding fields, and bio-absorption of heavy metals and contaminants.
However, hemp has always been linked to myths that need to be busted. Rohit Shah, the co-founder, and CEO of Hemp Horizons mentions that the Rising awareness among Indian consumers about the benefits of industrial hemp and increasing legalization to cultivate industrial hemp in many parts of the country is expected to drive its market in India. The Mint reports, “Hemp Horizons manufacture hemp products for several brands in the sector and retails its own products under the brand name 'Health Horizons'.”
It is important to realize that hemp seeds obtained from the plant Cannabis sativa contain comprise only minimal amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound.
What are the nutritional benefits of hemp?
Hemp encompasses numerous health benefits and several essential nutrients required by our body. Even though it is a nut, the seeds have high nutritional value. It is a powerhouse of eight essential amino acids present in quantities enough to meet the body’s needs, thus proving to be a complete alternative protein source for vegans and vegetarians. The antioxidant effects help reduce symptoms of numerous ailments, improving the health of the heart, skin, and joints.
Hemp seed oil is also considered to be a valuable dietary intake. Further, Hemp is known to have two essential fatty acids, namely, omega-6 and omega-3 and gamma-linolenic acid, a nutrient linked to several health benefits. Hemp seeds that can be eaten cooked, raw or roasted, are an exemplary source of vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, among others.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 116 calories and the following nutrients:
- Protein-9.47 g
- Carbohydrates-2.60 g
- Fat-1.20 g
- Total fatty acids-14.62 g
- Monounsaturated fatty acids-1.62 g
- Polyunsaturated fat-11.43 g
- Saturated fatty acids-1.38 g
Why is the acceptability of Hemp nutrition products needed in India?
For over 12,000 years, the hemp plant has been grown across the world, with India giving recognition to its distinct properties thousands of years ago in the Atharva Veda. It has high medicinal value and can be used for the treatments of severe ailments like cancer. In India, it has been legalized in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, with Himachal Pradesh proposing its legalization.
The association of Hemp with marijuana which contains up to 20% or more psychoactive drugs requires awareness and the need to break this taboo linked with it. Hemp comprises less than 1% of this psychoactive drug and thus, its acceptability can only be gained by vocalizing its wide-reaching benefits.
Can you get high after consuming a food item made from these seeds?
Procured from the Cannabis Sativa plant, these seeds are often confused with cannabis which is derived from other parts of the plant. Thus, hemp does not extend any mind-altering properties and is extremely safe and beneficial, and is a completely different commodity.
What are the innovative ways to make Hemp products?
Raw hemp products can be used in a plethora of ways. With approval from your physician, the seeds and nubs can be consumed raw every morning or added to regular food. It not only adds to nutritional value but also does not compromise on the taste. The powdered plant is a useful ingredient in smoothies and milkshakes or sprinkled on salads, or the oil can be used for cooking or as a salad dressing.
Hemp has also been incorporated into traditional Indian cuisines. In Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, villagers make 'bhang ki chutney' and use hemp salt, which is consumed as an everyday food item owing to its nutritional benefits.