New national research revealed in January, shows over two million Australian adults are unlikely to ever benefit from one of the world's most nutritious plant-based foods – hemp seeds – partly due to incorrect perceptions that the seeds can alter your state of mind. Leading Australian nutritionist and chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin, released the survey results as part of an education campaign aimed at clearing up these common misconceptions and highlighting the nutritional benefits of edible hemp seed products.
Hemp foods are a favourite with the health conscious in many other parts of the world. However, most Australians are not aware that hemp is now available as a healthy, tasty and nutritious food, which does not contain the amount of THC chemical known to alter one's state of mind and bodily function.
The national survey results highlight this confusion with nearly four in ten (39%) Australian adults under the impression that hemp foods are the same as other baked goods containing illegal (THC containing) ingredients.
One in five (20%) Australians are also concerned about whether these foods are legally permitted to be sold and consumed in Australia. Hemp seeds were acknowledged as a nutritious addition to a healthy diet by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) when regulation changes came into effect allowing the sale of these low THC hemp seed foods in Australia from mid-November 2017.
For years, hemp seed foods have been a pantry staple for international consumers seeking healthy food options. When added to a healthy diet, they offer a number of nutritional benefits. Hemp seeds are a good source of protein, they contain all three of the essential fatty acids (Omega 3, 6 and 9) needed for the human body to function and they also contain dietary fibre which can aid digestion.
The release of the new research coincides with the launch of Thompson's Hemp Foods Range in Australia, which includes Hemp Seeds, Hemp Wholefood powder (chocolate and unflavoured) and Hemp Seed Oil. Thompson's is well known in Australia for high quality supplements.
Well known nutritionist and chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin is a huge fan of using hemp seeds in her cooking and is on a mission to educate Australians about the nutritional benefits. She's excited to see Australia finally catching up to other parts of the world in realising the nutritional benefits of hemp foods.
"Hemp seeds are one of the best kept secrets for healthy eating. From a nutrition point of view, the amino acids help with healing and repair of our muscle and tissue and essential fatty acids support the function of all our cells. They are also packed full of fibre to assist with healthy digestion. They really are the little pocket rockets of the food world," said Ms Bingley-Pullin.
"Hemp seeds are the perfect addition to your family's pantry because they are incredibly nutritious and also taste fantastic! My daughter Emily loves my hemp banana pancakes and they are really simple to whip up so we can do it together. I'm really thrilled the Thompson's Hemp range is now available in Australia."
Gerald Quigley, Community Pharmacist and Master Herbalist, also noted with concern that so few Australians would consider their local pharmacy when evaluating choices for a healthy diet.
"This survey showed that only 2% of Australian adults would consider visiting a pharmacy for advice on a healthy diet. Pharmacists are well placed to provide advice on nutritious health foods like hemp seeds that Australians are not yet familiar with. These misconceptions are really going to get in the way of people realising the indisputable benefits of hemp seed foods which is a real shame," said Quigley.
Hemp seeds are low allergy and appropriate for both vegans and vegetarians.
People interested in trying Thompson's Hemp Seed Range can visit their local Pharmacy or health food store.
Question: What is hemp?
Zoe Bingley-Pullin: Hemp is considered one of the most nutritious plant based foods in the world. Research shows many Australians simply associate hemp with clothing and textiles, but many people don't realise it's actually also a nutritious (and tasty) addition to a healthy diet.
Hemp seeds (also known as hemp hearts) are the most nutritious part of the plant. They are also much more eco and environmentally friendly to produce than many other superfoods.
Hemp foods are a favourite with the health conscious in many other parts of the world including the USA and Canada and have been available there for many years. Hemp seeds were acknowledged as a nutritious addition to a healthy diet by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) when regulation changes came into effect allowing the sale of these low THC hemp seed foods in Australia from mid-November 2017.
It is also important to know that while hemp foods are derived from the seed of the plant, hemp seeds contain only a very small amount (<.5%) of the psychoactive element THC so they aren't going to affect your state of mind in any way.
Question: What types of hemp products will we find at the health food store?
Zoe Bingley-Pullin: I'm really excited to see Australia finally catching up to other parts of the world in realising the nutritional benefits of hemp foods.
My favourite, the new Thompson's Hemp Foods Range, includes hemp seeds, hemp wholefood powder - in both chocolate and unflavoured - and hemp seed oil.
The range is now available to try from pharmacies (like Chemist Warehouse) and health food stores across Australia.
Question: What are the nutritional benefits of hemp?
Zoe Bingley-Pullin: Hemp seeds are one of the best kept secrets for healthy eating. From a nutrition point of view, they are full of goodness that helps keep our bodies functioning at their peak!
Hemp is a plant-based source of essential fatty acids (all 20 including Omega-3 and Omega-6) in the perfect ratio (3:1). Essential fatty acids are crucial to support the structure and function of all our cells in our body. This means it's a complete protein which helps the healing and repair of muscle and tissue. The human body doesn't produce essential fatty acids, which is why it's important that we get them from our diet.
Hemp seeds are high in 'good fats' and this gives them a smooth texture which helps create a sensation of creaminess in recipes – similar to the effect you get with something like avocado.
So, you can see why they are considered one of 2018's 'superfoods to watch', besides their supercharged nutritional benefits, hemp seeds are also low allergy, naturally free from gluten and great for anyone who is allergic to nuts. They are also appropriate for both vegans and vegetarians.
Question: How and why should we add hemp seeds to our smoothies?
Zoe Bingley-Pullin: Hemp seeds have a lovely mild, slightly nutty flavour and the high fat content makes it easy to emulsify and incorporate into recipes from smoothies to homemade hummus.
As a busy working mum, I know making health eating can be tough even for me!
I love adding a scoop of the Thompson's Wholefood Powder and a spoonful of Thompson's hemp seeds to my regular green smoothie in the morning. It helps it really pack a punch and I know the nutrients will keep me going well into the day.
Question: How else do you use hemp, in the kitchen?
Zoe Bingley-Pullin: Hemp seeds are the perfect addition to your family's pantry because they are incredibly nutritious and also taste fantastic!
The Thompson's Hemp range is incredibly versatile and can be used in your favourite recipes from sweet dishes to savoury dinners. The seeds can be easily added to smoothies and bliss balls, added to salads or used to crust fish or chicken. You can also make hemp seed milk which is a great non-dairy option. The wholefood powder is a great substitute for recipes calling for regular flour and the oil is perfect for delicious salad dressings as well as homemade dips or sauces like pesto.
Question: Were you surprised that "over 2 million Australians are being put off by misconceptions about whether hemp foods can actually impair your state of mind"?
Zoe Bingley-Pullin: I was quite surprised about just how many people have misconceptions about hemp foods. Working in health and nutrition I've been a fan of hemp and known about its nutritional profile for many years but for many consumers this is likely the first time they are hearing about it.
Hemp foods are not going to interfere with or alter your state of mind in any way, but that doesn't stop people from thinking that they will.
A recent national survey conducted by Thompson's showed nearly four in ten (39%) Australian adults are under the impression that hemp foods are the same as other baked goods containing illegal (THC containing) ingredients.
It also highlighted that one fifth (20%) of Australians are also still concerned about whether these foods are legally permitted to be sold and consumed in Australia. They are!
These misconceptions are causing them to miss out on one of the most nutritious foods out there. That's why I'm so passionate about educating people about the benefits of hemp seed foods and encouraging them to try them for themselves!
Question: Can you share a recipe that features hemp products?
Zoe Bingley-Pullin: My daughter Emily loves my hemp banana pancakes and they are really simple to whip up so we can do it together. It's an easy weekend recipe that always gets a great reception.
Hemp Banana Pancakes
Prepare: 5 min
1 x banana
1 x egg
¼ cup Thompson's hemp seeds
¼ cup Thompson's hemp wholefood powder
coconut oil for cooking
In a small bowl, mash the banana and add egg, Thompson's hemp seeds, Thompson's hemp wholefood powder, turmeric and cinnamon until a smooth batter forms.
In a medium size small pan, heat oil and drop tablespoons of the mixture into the pan. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes and flip. Repeat until all mixture is cooked.
Top pancakes with toppings of choice and enjoy!
Interview by Brooke Hunter