As a modern food, hemp seed is usually sold and packaged without the seed’s protective outer shell. Shelled hemp seed has many brand and trade names including hulled hempseed, dehulled hempseed, hemp hearts, and hemp nut. This seed “meat” is sold on its own, but is also the principle ingredient in a wide variety of naturally processed foods, including granola, milk, butter, chips, ice cream and breads.
Why shell the seed? Many people find the shells pesky to eat and somewhat messy (think of sunflower seeds). Removing the shell makes the seed softer, which is more attractive to modern consumers and food lovers, and also makes the seed a more flexible and useful ingredient in home and commercial shelf-ready recipes.
Shelling is something of a “black box” mechanical process that uses friction, gravity and screens to separate shells from the seed meat. Chemicals are not necessary for a good separation of material, its all physics.
So what’s left afterwards? A good mix of protein and healthy fats. Shelled hemp seed is about 35% protein, and contains up to 45% oil (see hemp seed oil for a discussion on hemp seed’s omega-3 and omega-6 content). In this food form, there is also some dietary fiber and other carbohydrates present (see hemp protein for more on dietary fiber).
What makes hemp’s protein so interesting? Hemp seed contains a nutritionally significant amount of 8 essential amino acids, including arginine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valime. Hemp also contains taurine and histidine, important amino acids for premature infants and children respectfully.
The presence of these nutrients helps regulate many common conditions including cardiac function, insulin balance, mood stability, skin and joint health.
As well, hemp protein contains vitamins including tocopherols (Vitamin E), phytosterols and trace minerals.
The protein structure of hemp is of high quality and contains two globular proteins, albumin and edestine. This structure is very similar to proteins present in the body’s blood and is thus very digestible. Hemp seed protein is also appears to lack antinutrients which are found in soy which interferes with protein uptake. When compared to more common sources of proteins such as meat, milk, eggs, cheese and soybeans, hemp is a competitive choice, making hemp excellent source of nutrition for anyone committed to a meat reduced diet.
Hemp protein does not contain phytoestrogens – plant chemicals that mimic the body’s natural hormones. An overabundance of hormones, especially estrogen and chemicals that mimic estrogen, has been linked to certain types of cancers and developmental abnormalities in infants.
Unlike other protein heavy beans, hemp does not cause gas, which might be a cause of comfort for some. Its nice nutty flavor also makes eating hemp more enjoyable.
How do you use shelled hemp? They have a texture and size similar to sesame seed so they are an easy addition to almost any meal. One can sprinkle shelled hempseeds on nearly anything. For example, you can add them to oatmeal for breakfast, salad or soup for lunch and cooked pasta for dinner. With some healthy oil, shelled hemp can be mixed into a buttery spread for bread. They can also be soaked in water, filtered and chilled to be used to make homemade hemp “milk” and ice cream.
Global Hemp, Inc makes no implied or express warranty regarding use of this guide; it should not be relied on in providing, or in lieu of seeking professional, nursing or medical advice, assistance or care.