Americans are supposed to get five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables every day. This equates to roughly two cups of fruit and two-and-a-half cups of vegetables. Although this is the recommended amount that should be eaten according to the USDA (United States Dietary Association), most of the American population don’t even come close to meeting this recommendation. In Australia, government dietary guidelines recommend about five serves of veggies per day (where a serve is defined as around 75 grams) and two serves of fruit a day (a serve is about 150 grams). As you can see, serving sizes vary based on the country an individual resides in. Fortunately, a plant consumed for centuries due to its plethora of medicinal, therapeutic and nutritional benefits, Cannabis sativa, has more recently attracted the label superfood from numerous researchers and physicians, whom note Cannabis is worthy of incorporation into the human diet in some way or another.
Cannabis’ many medicinal and therapeutic benefits are well established, but the nutritional benefits of Cannabis are still gaining recognition and public coverage. ‘Superfoods’ are unprocessed foods rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients, often derived from fruits, vegetables and herbs. Under this definition, numerous doctors believe Cannabis can be grouped into the superfoods category. Besides Cannabis’ array of medicinal and therapeutic benefits, the plant is an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients. In general, there are various parts of Cannabis that can be consumed, such as leaves, stems and buds, heated or not. To reap Cannabis’ nutritional benefits though, consuming raw parts of the plant is the way to go.
Hemp seeds contain a multitude of nutritional benefits that can help improve one’s diet. Hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa (same species), but is grown to produce industrial and commercial products including food, animal feed and other useful materials like rope, textiles, paper and hempcrete. Generally, hemp seeds are consumed for their high nutrient and protein content, especially by vegans and vegetarians. Additionally, hemp seeds are consumed for their fatty acid content in the form of Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s. Overall, humans need to consume a regular amount of fatty acids, particularly due to benefits they have on our heart and brain. Research has found when one consumes Omega fatty acids, inflammation can be reduced, ADHD and arthritic pain can be better managed and high cholesterol can be combatted.
The presence of Omega fatty acids in hemp seeds is worth noting because they also help in the area of protein production. Hemp seeds serves as a much healthier alternative for those who don’t consume fish but need to get their serving of fatty acids. They’re an excellent source of Vitamin E (and other tocopherols), zinc, magnesium, iron, liver enzymes, antioxidants and protein. Not only is hemp extremely versatile, some of its other nutritional benefits include: vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, high plant-based protein content, high Omega fatty acids content, simple to digest, FODMAP suitable, paleo, ketogenic and diabetic-friendly.
Although various cannabinoids deliver medicinal and therapeutic benefits when they’re heated up or decarboxylated, the true nutritional benefits come from the consumption of raw cannabinoids. Some raw cannabinoids’ benefits:
- Improve productivity and efficiency of cells within the body
- Initiate the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) to activate antioxidant release
- Released antioxidants act as a ‘cleaner’ by removing damaged cells from the body
- When orally ingested, therapeutic benefits are achieved more effectively
- Can be incorporated into diet in numerous ways
You can grind up raw Cannabis leaves, buds or stems to use as seasonings or toppings for salads, soups, stews, oatmeal, porridge etc. Also, juicing raw Cannabis leaves is nutritionally beneficial, according to Dr William Courtney. He recommends using 20-30 big leaves or two or three raw buds daily to reap numerous nutritional and therapeutic benefits. You can also grind up raw Cannabis parts and add to smoothies, shakes and sauces.
All humans and mammals have an ECS, one of the most integral physiological systems involved in the establishment and maintenance of one’s health and creating homoeostasis across all bodily systems (balance). This system plays a vital role in the functioning of the brain, endocrine and immune tissues. The ECS plays a significant part in the secretion of hormones associated with reproductive functions and stress responses. In addition, the ECS regulates homeostasis and influences the function of the food consumption centres of the body’s central nervous system (CNS) and gastrointestinal tract activity. Throughout our bodies are endocannabinoids and their receptors (CB1 and CB2), which are within the brain, connective tissues, glands, immune cells, and various organs. Within each tissue, the ECS plays a role in maintaining homoeostasis, which is the maintenance of a stable internal environment regardless of different instabilities in the external environment.
One study stated the following about this integral system: “This system plays a significant role in a wide range of physiologic processes and behaviours including neurogenesis, neural development, immune function, metabolism and energy homoeostasis, synaptic plasticity and learning, pain, emotional state, arousal and sleep, stress reactivity and reward processing/addiction to other drugs of abuse”. Overall, not only is Cannabis medically and therapeutically beneficial, this plant and byproducts of it can be nutritionally beneficial if raw forms of it are consumed. Whether you want a vitamin, nutrient, or mineral boost or an improvement in your well-being, try consuming raw cannabinoids and/or hemp seeds and see how much it improves your health and lifestyle.
Adapted from Top three reasons why cannabis is a powerful superfood