In Australia, the sale of hemp has now been fully legalised. Previously, hemp ingredients were only legal in personal care and cosmetic products. So what does this new legislation mean for you? Game-changing access to a nutritional powerhouse, that’s what!
So why was hemp illegal in the first place? The stigma around hemp comes from people using the terms “hemp” and “marijuana” interchangeably. In reality, hemp and marijuana are actually two different plants! Under the new law, marijuana is still illegal, but we finally have access to the incredibly versatile and useful hemp plant. To straighten out the confusion, it’s important to understand that hemp is related to marijuana, but has almost no THC, which is the active component in marijuana. This means that if you smoke hemp, you’ll just get a headache – and lawmakers have finally understood that there is no reason to associate hemp with psychoactive ingredients found in marijuana.
The hemp plant itself is a good fit for Australia’s interior climate. Hemp uses less water than many other crops, is drought-tolerant, and restores vital nutrients to the soil. The plant is also extremely fast-growing, meaning that multiple harvests can be made in a year. Its tough, fibrous leaves can be used for a remarkable number of purposes, including paper, clothing, and even plastics or bio-fuels! Now that the sale of hemp is fully legal, it opens the door for farmers to participate in a budding industry that is worth some $1 billion globally.
The most useful part of the plant, however, may be its seeds. The seeds are found at the base of the plant and resemble small nuts. They have an agreeable, nutty flavor and can be used whole or milled. So what’s the big deal? Hemp seeds are truly a nutritional powerhouse! Besides packing as much (or more) protein as soy and beef, on a gram-to-gram basis, they are a complete amino acid source, making it an ideal vegan protein substitute.
Hemp is an edestin-based protein which is highly bioavailable, meaning your digestive system can digest its nutrients easily. Not only that, but the fibre content of hemp is comparable to flax and chia seeds and they are possibly the best plant-based source of healthy Omega-3 fats that researchers have found to date.
As hemp is cold pressed and therefore undergoes minimal processing (no chemical or acidic extraction processes are used in isolating the protein molecules), the balance of Omegas 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids are maintained. These fatty acids have important roles in healthy brain, lung and eye development; and play a role in heart health and immune function. Not only this, but hemp contains GLA, a source of omega 6 that is hard to come by and is touted for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Hemp naturally retains its magnesium, iron, zinc and vitamins B1 and E and the seeds, meal and oil are popular in baked goods, smoothies, sauces and even beer. Hemp is naturally gluten-free and suitable for those on a paleo diet.
Ultimately, the legalistion of hemp means that we will now have a new source of plant-based protein that is healthy and more environmentally sustainable. Like other plant-based products, the nutrients found in hemp seeds will degrade if put through heavy processing. If you’re looking to get the most out of these amazing seeds, look for hemp products that are cold-pressed or otherwise minimally processed, and don’t contain other ingredients. Now that the stigma has been lifted, support local farmers and improve your own diet with one of these amazing hemp products today.