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As heart-friendly seeds and oil or dairy-free ‘milk’, this age-old crop has shaken off its hippy reputation to enter the mainstream


What is it?

Hemp, also known as Cannabis Sativa, has a cultivation history going back at least 10,000 years; it’s been used to make fabric, paper and, recently, eco-friendly cars. Laws passed in North America in the 1930s lumped hemp in with the narcotic marijuana (same species, different plant) so production was halted, but farming continued in parts of Europe and China.

How is it used?

A highly sustainable crop, it can be eaten in seed form or made into oil, dairy-free ‘milk’ and protein powders. Its nutty taste works in both sweet and savoury dishes – ideal for those with nut allergies seeking an alternative to nut oils for dressings, for example. A 30g serving of seeds can be sprinkled over salads, blended in juices or whizzed into gluten-free ‘breadcrumbs’. And the milk is delicious with cereal and porridge.

The nutrition facts

Hemp seeds are high in protein (around 9g per 30g) and contain all 20 amino acids (protein building blocks). Both the seeds and oils provide essential fatty acids, while hemp oil has one of the lowest saturated fat contents of all oils (even less than olive oil, although slightly more than rapeseed) and is rich in polyunsaturated fats. Indeed, studies show that hemp seed may be linked to better heart health. Hemp ‘milk’ is a great option for dairy-free diets and is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

From the shop to your table

There are plenty of versatile products to help you incorporate hemp into your diet at any time of day. Here are a few of our favourites…

Good Hemp Unsweetened Dairy Free
£1.49/1 litre, Waitrose,
Nutritional information per 100ml: 23kcal, 2.7g fat, 0.3g saturates, 0.1g sugars, 0.1g salt

Linwoods Shelled Hemp
£5.79/225g, Ocado
Nutritional information per 30g: 185kcal, 15.7g fat, 1.7g saturates, 0.3g sugars, 0g salt

Biona Organic Hemp Seed Oil
£6.99/250ml, health food shops, Ocado
Nutritional information per 1tbsp (11ml): 99kcal, 10.2g fat, 1g saturates, 0g sugars, 0g salt

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