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Superfood Hemp
What’s the deal with the cannabis trend?

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It is considered a sustainable food trend: hemp is increasingly found in oils, teas and pasta. But not all are as good as expected.

The hemp plant has lost its wicked image: medical cannabis is being used more and more in therapy, society is discussing legalization, and in the supermarket you can buy hemp oil, hemp seeds or products enriched with it, such as chocolate, pasta or even grilled sausages. And not only that: For more muscles there is hemp protein powder, hemp tea for drinking, beer flavored with hemp flowers or lemonades with hemp extracts. Demand is booming, especially among the younger generation, according to trend research by the Zukunftsinstitut.

But what is really about the superfood hemp?

In Europe only the so-called industrial hemp is allowed to grow, which only contains small quantities of the notorious THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) which has an intoxicating effect (there are only exceptions for medical cannabis). The cultivation of this industrial hemp is extremely environmentally friendly: it grows outdoors, makes hardly any demands on the soil and requires little water, fertilizer or pesticides. And: the use of energy is close to zero.

The three to five millimeter large seeds of hemp are edible. If you press the seeds, you get a high-quality oil that is rich in polyunsaturated fats – and therefore super healthy. It also provides extremely rare fatty acids that are said to lower blood pressure and have an anti-inflammatory effect.The oil is suitable for cold cooking, it should not be heated: simply mix it into salad dressings or drizzle over steamed vegetables. It tastes tart and nutty and therefore goes better with rustic greens such as frisée, dandelion, asparagus, types of cabbage and sauerkraut. Tip: The good fats make the hemp oil go rancid easily, so keep it in the fridge and use it up quickly.

What else? Hemp seeds are more than just a good supplier of oil, namely very high in protein with an average protein content of 25 percent and also rich in fiber and micronutrients such as vitamins E, B, magnesium, calcium and iron. “Hemp seeds are absolutely healthy, similar to nuts,” confirms Daniela Krehl from the Bavarian Consumer Advice Center.

The downside of the hemp hype

And do you prefer peeled or unpeeled? “The shelled seeds have the advantage that the nutrients are more readily available, but they contain less dietary fiber and don’t last as long,” explains Krehl. On the other hand, unpeeled hemp seeds would ideally have to be crushed or soaked, so that you can better benefit from the healthy ingredients. For example, you can sprinkle the seeds on muesli, yoghurt or salads, mix them in smoothies or bake them in bread. Hemp flour can also pimp baked goods. In products such as hemp spreads, they provide at least small amounts of the valuable ingredients and are really good for our health.

On social media and in Internet forums, the cannabis seeds are all sorts of other things superpowers awarded: They should help the muscles to recover faster after a workout, make them slim and lower blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels. “None of this has been scientifically proven,” Krehl dispels this myth. “Individual foods, no matter how healthy they are, cannot influence such complex processes in the body.” That’s why appropriate health advertisements are not allowed on the packaging.

The same applies to CBD products such as CBD oils and chocolates, bars, soft drinks or chewing gum containing CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a substance found in hemp flowers. In contrast to THC, it is not intoxicating, but is said to work all sorts of medical miracles, such as being anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic and pain-relieving or even making you immune to corona. But here, too, evidence is lacking. Manufacturers are therefore not allowed to make any health advertising. “But if an influencer claims: The CDB product XY helped me to survive the exam stress, then that is considered an expression of opinion and is not legally prosecuted,” warns Krehl. CBD has indeed shown effects in high doses in medical studies and is therefore used in medicines to treat epilepsy, for example. “However, there is often little in over-the-counter CBD oils or capsules,” says Krehl.

Amounts of THC can unintentionally find their way into products containing CBD

Another problem with all foods containing hemp and CBD: investigations by the authorities repeatedly find the intoxicating THC in them. Because during harvest or storage, hemp seeds can come into contact with the flowers, leaves and stems of the plant and become contaminated as a result. And THC can also be enriched during the extraction of CBD from the flowers. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) therefore warns above all against hemp tea, food supplements containing hemp such as CBD oils or hemp extracts. There were partly THC amounts here, like those found in a joint. And according to the BfR, this can lead to dizziness, tiredness, reduced responsiveness or increased heart rate. The effects can be intensified with alcohol or medication.

Pregnant women and children should therefore generally only consume a small amount of hemp products. The rule of thumb is: “Products from the Internet are always associated with a greater risk than food from the supermarket,” says Krehl. You can even buy THC foods such as fruit gums online, the sale of which is illegal in Germany.

reading tip: Here we explain what hemp seeds do and how you can use them.

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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